Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
I ought to add that it is only six minutes long, so will not disrupt your day too greatly.
If you can't get to it on the link, try googling "new york times umbrella man"
Saturday, 19 November 2011
Was not always such a genteel pastime.
I'm not saying you were going to be knifed
Or have your gut perforated with a pool stick,
Just that you got looked at. If you've been looked at
You'll know what I mean. The smoke was good
And the stink of beer, and altogether the sense
Of usedness the place had, like an old tool.
These places are gone now
Because renewal is the luxury we have time and money for
And doesn't the year do it anyway?
Isn't it natural? Isn't there a happy bruise or two
Of purple crocuses on the green?
Don't we rejoice? I
I've not drunk in the Prince Bonaparte for years
But if I went I would miss the smoke and the spilled beer
(Though it's more Merlot now than ESB)
And even the being looked at, and I'm afraid
That in the good food and the new decor
And even the svelte young women, I would not rejoice.
NB I'm delighted to say that the great Hugo Williams has considered this poem fit for publication this week in that august and discriminating journal of fine writing, The Spectator
Further reading: The Moon under Water by George Orwell, to be found here.
Friday, 18 November 2011
Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Dissident and recipient - to communist fury - of the Nobel Peace Prize (which of course he was not allowed to collect) LIU XIABO remains in prison.
Personally I think the former KGB man and the current communist regime in China deserve one another and should be encouraged to award each prizes every year. Or perhaps they could combine and award the Occupyers a Mao-Stalin Prize for Direct Action.
Altogther very reminiscent of old communist practice. i thought China was supposed to be the 'coming' nation.
Tuesday, 15 November 2011
Thursday, 10 November 2011
After the rather wonderful Edward Thomas biography by Matthew Hollis I wanted to read ‘Into the Silence’, the book about mountaineer George Mallory that has had such rave reviews. I took a look at the price and decided against (I have subsequently ordered it from Amazon at less than half the price). Instead I picked up ‘Goodbye to All That’ by Robert Graves, a book I remember my father urging on me when I was about 17 (he and Graves got on very well during a Monitor). And it turns out that George Mallory was Graves’s Best Man (Graves could not imagine Mallory not reaching the summit of Everest).
Well, it is book of the year so far (I discount Great Expectations on the grounds that I have read it before): astounding book. It is written with a dispassionate artlessness that fails entirely to disguise the fact that Graves cannot help himself simply telling stories. Stories of school, stories of war, and stories of peace. It is, nominally, an autobiography, but a less reflective autobiography it is impossible to imagine. Instead we have a sort of Homeric approach which is all about what happens. What we make of what happens is pretty much up to us. Either the author took for granted what we would make of things or he is uninterested in weighing up or analysing. For example, it is not until the later stages of the book that his objection to the war becomes explicit (it was Graves who made sure that Sassoon was delivered to Rivers at Craiglockhart rather than court-martialled).
Graves wass proud of his regiment (Royal Welch Fusiliers), in particular the first battalion, walked whenever he could on the hills behind Harlech in north Wales, once ran a grocery shop in Islip, was a professor of English in Cairo (where he taught Nasser), was given up for dead three times, saw ghosts, was a virgin until he married, visited Thomas Hardy and knew Lawrence of Arabia.
The number of characters - people – who die may explain the dispassion. Had Graves lingered on each one we would have a had a very long book indeed. Horrifying. Getting children to read this rather than study history from dry text books would give an altogether truer picture of the Great War. A very good book indeed.
Monday, 7 November 2011
I've no idea what is going on in this picture: It looks like two lions snoozing in the sky above Ally Pally. I may be wrong. I like it very much. Check out Caitlin's Goldsmith's blog here.
Well, it's not Ally Pally - it's Crystal Pally. It is important to know that this is a BIG picture - about nine foot square.
Friday, 4 November 2011
You can hear a couple of tracks here. More to be added next week.