A gust of cinnamon from a pine-wreathed glühwein stand while the carousel plays Frosty the Snowman, and neon snowflakes decorate the neoclassical columns. A Pavlovian sense of festivity fights with my inner Scrooge. On the journey, there were still smudges of autumnal ochre on the wooded hills outside the train window. But Oxford, an hour’s ride from London’s Marylebone station, is in Christmas mode. I’m planning festive cultural tourism in my old home city, including visits to places in Philip Pullman’s books; His Dark Materials is currently enlivening Sunday nights as a BBC One drama. First stop is the Ashmolean Museum, 10 minutes’ walk from Oxford station. The world’s first museum has had a £61m revamp in the last decade and ancient treasures are newly revealed. The Last Supper in Pompeii exhibition (adult £12.25, 12-17s £6, until 12 January 2020) recreates Roman feasts from mosaics, rusty pruning hooks and carbonised … [Read more...] about Oxford at Christmas: a car-free trip to a city of dreaming spires
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Virgin Galactic showed off its updated Spaceport America on Thursday. The taxpayer-funded facility, located in a remote part of the New Mexico desert, will serve as the headquarters for running the company's commercial space operations. The interior will connect customers with every aspect of the space tourism experience, including windows that provide views of the hangars, vehicles and mission control monitors. There is also a preparation area for pilots and a lounge for passengers and their family members, all designed to fit the theme of the facility's southwestern desert location. The control center is "primarily focused on spaceflight operations, which also incorporates communal spaces designed for use in the future by Virgin Galactic customers, along with their friends and families," the company said in a statement. It is all aimed at creating what Virgin officials call an "unparalleled experience" as customers prepare for the trip to space. Read more: Fly me to the moon - … [Read more...] about Virgin Galactic unveils new spaceport mission control
Not so long ago, I was waiting for my order in a Chinese takeaway when I Believe I Can Fly by R Kelly came on the radio. No one paid a blind bit of notice. The DJ didn’t make any comment about Kelly. It was just another song, another five minutes to fill up the airwaves. Would that happen now? Finally, after years of the stench of sexual misconduct following him around like a swarm of gnats, Kelly may have reached his tipping point. It is true he has never been convicted of anything, but he has settled out of court with women who have accused him of sexual offences, and almost no one, at this point, has come forward to defend him. That is thanks in huge part to the reporting of the Chicago journalist Jim De Rogatis, who has spoken to and – crucially – listened to so many of the women who wanted to talk about what Kelly did to them. Yet despite the years of stories about Kelly, until last week the music industry had never taken action against him. Then, last Friday, … [Read more...] about Spotify sidelines R Kelly. The Academy expels Bill Cosby. Who’s next?