Our industry is unrecognisable to what it looked like 20 years ago when I first started out in the licensed trade. Having good food, reasonably priced drinks and excellent customer service are no longer virtues to brag about, they are now the norm and the expectation of every customer who comes into our bars.
Next Saturday is more than just another showpiece. It is a celebration of an art form still in its infancy really, with plenty of potential to mutate and transform. It could also be a starting point for a whole new generation of would-be graffiti artists, whether they chose to spray on walls, plaster stickers on lamp-posts or paste photocopied art on tatty old buildings.
In 2013, Magnum Photos and Multistory commissioned nine photographers to capture the state and spirit of British manufacturing - its variety, its people and its processes. Given the difficult economic conditions, that was quite a challenge. Yet the resulting exhibtion, Open for Business, is a fascinating insight into an industry that is surviving, even thriving, against quite extraordinary odds.
I was paradoxically condemned to be both pretentious and a philistine. I was both too smart and too dumb. I was, ultimately, just plain old wrong. My family's condemnations were, much like A Midsummer Night's Dream, rather bland and confusing.
In the next few weeks, there will be new wave of 18-year-old youngsters beginning one of the most important and challenging chapters in their lives. I'm sure the stresses are beginning for the eager youths, seeking to get away from their family homes to start university
If you're a debut author and not exactly awash with cash (like me), it's tempting to ask your friend's brother/sister/cousin who has a bit of experience with Photoshop to whip something up for you - but I'd avoid this. I worked with a graphic designer on mine and in the end we went for something fairly simple but striking
This exhibition from the Cultural Institute at King's College London offers a fascinating insight into a creative mind. Well known for her writing, this exhibition looks at Beryl Bainbridge's painting and drawing in the context of her writing output, and how each fed the other.
It is a very exciting thing for the locals to have a thriving art gallery in their midst and it is the buzz of the town, and beyond. The car park at the new gallery complex is crowded as we drive in and you immediately get the sense and scale of visiting a publicly-funded gallery or house.
Stress in our modern culture is deemed to be negative; something that only the weak have and the reason for mass depressive illnesses - but what isn't understood or factored is that stress if controlled and managed correctly can improve the quality of your life.
They share a name, they share a similar population size coupled with a strong industrial past but now they share a similar vision albeit 4200 miles apart.
The event had something interesting to say about obedience. If we all went in, no one taking part or listening to direction from Marina or the gallery assistants, nothing would happen. It relied on participation or obedience.
Moving abroad is a scary prospect. The fear of the unknown is, in some way, present for everyone - even those whose intrepid spirits drive them around the globe. However, it is also exhilarating and, often, intoxicatingly addictive.
Being cultured isn't easy. You have to go to things, absorb those things, tell people about the things you absorbed and pretend they have enriched your life in some way and then answer questions when people start asking you stuff.
If you have some collateral, that doesn't mean you shouldn't invest. And I may have a solution for you - dealing in modern art and vintage late twentieth-century furniture. You may think this is the reserve of the posh and rich. But, as a one-time working-class lad from East London, I can tell you it absolutely is not.
Included in the display are a number of iconic images from the protests, including the funeral cortege for Emily Davison, the suffragette who died in a protest at Epsom Derby. Her funeral was an extraordinary occasion. Thousands of suffragettes accompanied the coffin, most of whom in the WSPU uniform of white, purple and green.
I spoke to festival director Sorcha Carey about what can be expected at the Edinburgh Art Festival this year.