The Birdman of the Tower of London and the Missing Ravens

“It’s a very small world, he says, raven-keeping, “and being quirky is part and parcel of it, because it’s so full on”.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Jan 21, 2021
Length: 19 minutes (4,982 words)

‘Talk About First World Problems’: What Would the Pandemic Have Been Like in 2005?

How would he have handled a pandemic? It’s hard to imagine him getting involved in the sort of denialism, laced with conspiracy theory and a dash of anti-Chinese racism, that the Trump administration has fostered.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Dec 20, 2020
Length: 11 minutes (2,900 words)

Michele Kirsch: My Life As a Cleaner in London

Michele Kirsch on working as a cleaner in London, England, and the fascinating, unspoken social rules that keep a cleaner-cleanee relationship “shipshape and Bristol-fashion.”

Source: The Independent
Published: Oct 25, 2015
Length: 9 minutes (2,481 words)

How Noma Took Tokyo

The Copenhagen-based restaurant Noma is regularly rated as the world’s best; Tokyo is the gourmet capital of the world, with more Michelin stars than any other city. For five overwhelming and intense weeks, Noma came to Tokyo, with a waiting list of 60,000 diners. But could a restaurant renowned for its “local” focus succeed in a foreign city?

Source: The Independent
Published: Feb 15, 2015
Length: 8 minutes (2,035 words)

My Elf Self

Sedaris recalls his time working as a Macy’s elf during the holiday season:

“Today was the official opening day of SantaLand and I worked as a Magic Window Elf, a Santa Elf and an Usher Elf. The Magic Window is located in the adult ‘Quick Peep’ queue. My job was to say, ‘Step on the Magic Star and look through the window, and you can see Santa!’ I was at the Magic Window for 15 minutes before a man approached me and said, ‘You look so fucking stupid.’

“I have to admit that he had a point. But still, I wanted to say that at least I get paid to look stupid, that he gives it away for free. But I can’t say things like that because I’m supposed to be merry.

“So instead I said, ‘Thank you!'”

Source: The Independent
Published: Dec 9, 1995
Length: 11 minutes (2,921 words)

The Boy Who Had Two Lives

When Binjamin Wilkomirksi’s account of his childhood was published in 1995, it was hailed as a classic among Holocaust memoirs. Then the fraud allegations began.

Source: The Independent
Published: Jun 6, 1999
Length: 27 minutes (6,864 words)

Masters of illusion: The great management consultancy swindle

It’s cost the NHS £300m and its practitioners are wielding the axe at magazine giant Condé Nast. But is it all just smoke and mirrors? Ex-management consultant Matthew Stewart recalls his career in the “efficiency business” – and reveals its dark arts

Source: The Independent
Published: Sep 17, 2009
Length: 11 minutes (2,942 words)

Deborah Orr: We feel sorry for abused children. But what about damaged adults?

Educational facilities for children like Sonnex have improved so little under Labour

Source: The Independent
Published: Jun 11, 2009
Length: 4 minutes (1,206 words)

The dark side of Dubai

Dubai was meant to be a Middle-Eastern Shangri-La, a glittering monument to Arab enterprise and western capitalism. But as hard times arrive in the city state that rose from the desert sands, an uglier story is emerging. Johann Hari reports

Source: The Independent
Published: Apr 7, 2009
Length: 35 minutes (8,766 words)