Just back from a great and much-needed fortnight's vacation in Las Vegas - already looking forward to going back soon. I regretted not seeing Tom Jones at Caesars Palace in 1984, so his amazingly dynamic and flawless performance at the MGM Grand was a very special treat. TJ did all the classics, some cool new standards, and importantly, no 'trendy' nonsense like Nirvana cover versions. Other exceptional shows included Cirque du Soleil's Ka, and their spellbinding production O - the latter taking place at Bellagio's specially designed (at astronomical cost) aquatic theatre; it was only after seeing it that I learned about some of the behind-the-scenes magic; beautiful transparent concessions, if ever there were. Neither shall I ever forget the view from the West Rim of the Grand Canyon - more than 200 miles of beautifully clear sunny winter visibility.
I could easily write for hours on the subject of this most fascinating of cities, but here wanted to make just one other observation. On rare occasions you see small children in the revitalised downtown Fremont area or around the major theme casinos along the Strip, along with their parents, brought either in the mistaken belief that Vegas is a family-friendly city, or because there's no-one else to look after them back home. In a society and culture where children are customarily treated with such deference, and have such powerful status and protection, it's remarkable to see the invariable look of haunted bewilderment, powerlessness, and isolation on these kids' faces - it almost makes you feel sorry for them.