…up in a puff of smoke

It probably came as a surprise to most to see that The Economist’s ‘Country of the Year’ for 2013 was Uruguay.  Their decision was in no small part down to the nation’s recent move to regulate the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. “Prohibition”, observed the late American economist Milton Friedman, “is an attempted cure that makes matters worse—for both the addict and the rest of us.”  It’s time for the industry to be decriminalised and regulated, not because drug taking is acceptable, but because drugs create a problem too complicated to leave to the black market. Think of a friend who desperately wants to use cannabis but who doesn’t use it because it’s illegal.  Stumped?  That’s no surprise.  Whether they’re prohibited or regulated, those who want to take drugs will.  All we do by banning cannabis is shove them into the open arms of dealers, and hamstring society’s ability to …

Corporate names: Verbal identities

“ONE has to go back 213 years to find the first TSB branch in the small parish of Ruthwell, Scotland. The bank, which grew and eventually merged with Lloyds 18 years ago, is now going it alone once again. And it opted to keep its old 19th century name, which is a curious choice: it runs counter a trend in corporate naming, particularly in banking.”   Read more at The Economist…

Here, There, Gone: An Interview with Sir Nicholas Hytner

Nicholas Hytner’s Othello was so good I saw it twice.  It’s not the first time Sir Nick has wowed the critics.  And I somehow doubt it will be the last as I wait outside his office, fallen into an appropriately gelatinous state to accompany the close English summer heat.  I perch comfortably, staring at black-and-white action shots of hit after hit: Adrian Lester in Henry V, Simon Russell Beale in Much Ado About Nothing, James Corden in One Man, Two Guv’nors.  If there’s such thing as a grammar of theatre, Hytner is fluent in it. These days, he needs little introduction: the Cambridge alumnus who arrived at the National Theatre in 1990 via the English National Opera, the Leeds Playhouse and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester has become one of Britain’s most well-respected directors.  One bookshelf in his office hosts a glass poster for One Man, Two Guv’nors; another …