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The Fairmen of the Boards

The Fairmen of the Boards

Rovaniemi is not bodacious. One does not go there to hang ten. Here, on the very edge of the Finnish Arctic Circle, you’ll find Christmas song before Billabong. The town unashamedly markets itself as ‘The Official Hometown of Santa Claus’, and though I don’t see the fat man when I visit,..
Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire

I have been good at many computer games, but I have been great at only one: Tekken. The ‘King of Iron Fist Tournament’ was first developed by Japanese gaming stalwarts Namco in 1994 and a few months later became one of the early flagship titles for the new Sony Playstation...
Hell in Paradise

Hell in Paradise

Ronnie Vorswyk spends most of his days in a Napoleonic jail at the edge of the Amazon jungle. A guide in the sprawling, long-disused Transportation Prison in Saint Laurent du Maroni in French Guiana, the 60-year-old is originally from Suriname, just on the other side of the Maroni River. Being..
Winter’s Past

Winter’s Past

The Governor is a man of few words but many jobs. Sitting in his permanently oil-stained orange overalls, he looks past me, out of a window in the Pyramiden Hotel to empty buildings outside with the look of a concerned parent.  Out there, on the decaying streets of Pyramiden, Petr Petrovich is caretaker,..
The World Nomad Games

The World Nomad Games

Ordinarily it would have been golden eagles on the gopher’s mind, but on a sunny afternoon in early September, there was something else to worry about. As it emerged from its burrow in the Kyrchyn Valley in central Kyrgyzstan, the rodent sniffed the dusty air blowing north towards the border..
Life and Death in the Chocolate Box

Life and Death in the Chocolate Box

On a cool, clear evening in Buenos Aires, San Martín de San Juan, a small team from western Argentina, arrives to meet its fate at La Bombonera. Home of Boca Juniors, the largest and most successful team in the country, the stadium is the beating blue-and-gold heart of the colourful,..
Necessity Bears

Necessity Bears

Bears are fierce; bears are cautious. Bears are solitary; bears, the females at least, are dedicated to family. Bears are omnipotent; bears are vulnerable. They are everything we want to be and everything we cannot abide. Those are a lot of human characteristics to project onto another species, especially when..
Fjord Escort

Fjord Escort

It takes remarkably little time for Noah, my 13-year-old cousin, to settle into the particular smugness that comes with being in a Tesla. We may only have the Model X for a few days, and of course Noah doesn’t get to do any of the driving, but we’ve barely left..
Northern Appetites

Northern Appetites

“It’s really crazy work,” says Steve Torgersen. He’s talking about getting fresh water to his restaurant Gruvelageret, on the edge of Longyearbyen, Svalbard, but he could easily be talking generally about the challenges of supplying good food this far north. To look at Longyearbyen on a map (or in person), there’s..
The End of Greece

The End of Greece

At the end of the world, I am reluctant to report, there is excellent 3G coverage. Our understanding of the world is a little better – at least in geographical terms – than it was in the age of the ancient Greeks, but for them the Matapan, the southernmost tip..