Seeing Alain de Botton at the Opera House was totally mind-blowing. On the one hand, walking onstage he looked like a shiny-headed geek, dressed as a philosopher would dress speaking as you would expect a Swiss, Oxford English-educated philosopher would speak. But as soon as he began, you got the sense that this was not going to be any mothballed old theoretician. De Botton’s speciality is helping us get a grip, with clarity and guile, on the everyday. This time he was in town to talk up his latest book – The News; A User’s Manuel. His basic precept it that we receive – and digest – so much news, so often, so how is it that disaster stories are often so uplifting? Why do we love seeing our politicians brought down? Why does some very important stuff get no traction compared to some very unimportant stuff that gets major play? As usual, he puts a positive, even humorous spin on things, helping us to get the best out of the news. As for the man himself, he’s a marathon – over an hour without drawing a breath, such an inspiring narrator. Me, I kinda of got an added thrill, seeing all seats full at the Opera House concert hall on a Saturday night – to hear a philosopher!