John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for April, 2020

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One Two Three Four by Craig Brown review – all about the Beatles

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Humour and skilful writing bring alive a collection of anecdotes that retell the Beatles story

In the build-up to the general election of 1987, Margaret Thatcher agreed to an interview with Smash Hits, the now defunct fortnightly pop magazine that had an estimated readership of 3.3 million. By way of attempting to avoid disaster, a prime ministerial aide called Christine Wall wrote her a briefing note that now reads as if it were intended for a visiting extra-terrestrial.

The most surreal passage was about the Beatles. “Probably the two most famous BEATLES songs amongst many hits are YESTERDAY which has been recorded by hundreds of people including FRANK SINATRA AND ELVIS PRESLEY,” Wall wrote, “and ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE which was performed live in front of 640,000,000 people on TV in 1968.” The latter dateline was wrong – the event in question actually happened in 1967. And on the day of the interview, it was clear that Wall’s brief and inaccurate summary had failed to sink in: before it ended and she got back to privatising everything, Thatcher had managed to credit the Beatles with recording the Tornados’ 1962 hit “Telstar”.

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Posted in Guardian RSS | No Comments »

One Two Three Four by Craig Brown review – all about the Beatles

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

Humour and skilful writing bring alive a collection of anecdotes that retell the Beatles story

In the build-up to the general election of 1987, Margaret Thatcher agreed to an interview with Smash Hits, the now defunct fortnightly pop magazine that had an estimated readership of 3.3 million. By way of attempting to avoid disaster, a prime ministerial aide called Christine Wall wrote her a briefing note that now reads as if it were intended for a visiting extra-terrestrial.

The most surreal passage was about the Beatles. “Probably the two most famous BEATLES songs amongst many hits are YESTERDAY which has been recorded by hundreds of people including FRANK SINATRA AND ELVIS PRESLEY,” Wall wrote, “and ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE which was performed live in front of 640,000,000 people on TV in 1968.” The latter dateline was wrong – the event in question actually happened in 1967. And on the day of the interview, it was clear that Wall’s brief and inaccurate summary had failed to sink in: before it ended and she got back to privatising everything, Thatcher had managed to credit the Beatles with recording the Tornados’ 1962 hit “Telstar”.

Continue reading…

Posted in Guardian RSS | No Comments »

Do you live in Plymouth and have a story to tell about coronavirus?

Saturday, April 18th, 2020

If you live in Plymouth, we’d like you to tell us about issues and experiences you feel are being overlooked during the Covid-19 outbreak. Share your stories

Anywhere But Westminster’s Life in Lockdown series is aiming to build a film about the Covid-19 crisis around life in a single city, and we’ve chosen the Ocean City: Plymouth.

We know the city is a fascinating place, full of amazing community spirit and a sense of innovation. And we know that there are parts of Plymouth that reflect big themes of inequality and disadvantage, too often ignored. The city is also full of small businesses that will need help to get through this massively difficult period.

We’re already collecting video from some of the people who run the city, and some organisations doing amazing work to help people most affected. But we need to know a lot more. Do you live in Plymouth and have a story to tell about issues and experiences you feel are overlooked? Are you involved in an organised effort to make sure no one is isolated or ignored? Are you going to work during the crisis, in the public or private sector, and open to telling your story?

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Planned obsolescence: the outrage of our electronic waste mountain

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Unrepairable phones and laptops are one of the scandals of our throwaway society. But the pushback is building – and the coronavirus crisis has added more pressure for change

‘Imagine you showed someone a smartphone 20 years ago. You said: ‘Here’s this thing, it’s going to be awesome, and it’ll cost $1,000. But the manufacturers are going to glue the battery in, and you’re supposed to get rid of it when the battery wears out.’ You would have thought that notion was completely bananas.”

Nathan Proctor is talking via Google Hangouts from Boston, Massachusetts, about an allegedly central feature of modern manufacturing known as planned obsolescence. This is the idea that some of the world’s biggest companies have been selling us products either knowing full well that they will only last a couple of years, or having deliberately built a short lifespan into the itemor its software.

The companies that make millions of smartphones should just not make them to break

Many of our products are still in use after five years

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Posted in Guardian RSS | No Comments »

Planned obsolescence: the outrage of our electronic waste mountain

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

Unrepairable phones and laptops are one of the scandals of our throwaway society. But the pushback is building – and the coronavirus crisis has added more pressure for change

‘Imagine you showed someone a smartphone 20 years ago. You said: ‘Here’s this thing, it’s going to be awesome, and it’ll cost $1,000. But the manufacturers are going to glue the battery in, and you’re supposed to get rid of it when the battery wears out.’ You would have thought that notion was completely bananas.”

Nathan Proctor is talking via Google Hangouts from Boston, Massachusetts, about an allegedly central feature of modern manufacturing known as planned obsolescence. This is the idea that some of the world’s biggest companies have been selling us products either knowing full well that they will only last a couple of years, or having deliberately built a short lifespan into the itemor its software.

The companies that make millions of smartphones should just not make them to break

Many of our products are still in use after five years

Continue reading…

Posted in Guardian RSS | No Comments »

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