Sunday, 25 January 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser

The Daily Telegraph has recently done one of those 'best of' lists that causes conniptions in everyone.  This time it is a list of the best TV adaptations of books.  I am connipted by the absence from this top 20 of Jack Pulman's quite brilliant War and Peace, with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.  I remember Dad telling me that the BBC hired the Yugoslav Army for the battle scenes.  I'm sure there must be production stories about that.  Also on the list is Jonathan Miller's 'Alice in Wonderland'.  It casued a bit of a fuss.  Here's a Garland cartoon that appeared at the time (1966), with Dad up a ladder (not a place I remember ever seeing him myself).


Deatils of my biography of my father here: http://unbound.co.uk/books/kicking-the-bar

See How Small

My review of Scott Blackwood's 'See How Small' is in The Spectator this week, here.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

MELVYN BRAGG ON HUW WHELDON

“Huw Wheldon was a most remarkable man, and his son Wynn has written a remarkable book about him in the great tradition of books by sons about their fathers. Huw’s impact at the BBC and the Arts in the country in the 20th Century was immense. He was a brilliant man, serious and funny at the same time, and able to interview on television some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. This is a bold portrait of a man and an age and the son who has spent half a lifetime getting to know him.” Melvyn Bragg

Read more about my biography of my father here:
http://unbound.co.uk/books/kicking-the-bar



THE SECOND COMING by W.B. Yeats

This year marks the 150th since Yeats' birth.  My friend Mary McCormack brought this to our poetry stanza (The Brondesbury Group) last night.  It was good to hear it again, and, as it always has been and always will be, it is spot on. What a poem. Originally published in 1921.


THE SECOND COMING


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W.B. Yeats

AFTER LIFE by Wynn Wheldon

AFTER LIFE

Twenty years gone, I find you occasionally
In long-untouched notebooks or my sister’s face.
And I suppose you’ll linger until we are all come
To meet you at the far edge of life.

At which point you will head off, following
The ones you loved and loved you while we wait
To greet the ones we’ve left behind, laughing
At their fears, losses and nervousnesses.

Oh, wouldn’t it be a fine thing, an afterlife?
When the whole joke was revealed and our heads
Could rest easy every night and we could wake
Without this stiffness in the bones, of the spirit.

Wynn Wheldon

This poem was originally published by Snakeskin in December 2013


Monday, 19 January 2015

BOOKS 2015

MYRTLE by Ruth Wiggins (my review on Sabotage is here)
SEE HOW SMALL by Scott Blackwood (review here)
BRING UP THE BODIES by Hilary Mantel
SILENT NIGHT by Robert B. Parker
HATCHET JOB by Mark Kermode
AQUARIUM by David Vann (reviewed here)
FREE FALL by Robert Crais
EDMUND KEAN by Raymund FitzSimons
THE BOOK OF ARON by Jim Shepard (reviewed here)
THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt
THE FESTIVAL OF INSIGNIFICANCE by Milan Kundera
LAPSTRAKE by Wendy Pratt
INDIGO SLAM by Robert Crais
VOODOO RIVER by Robert Crais
DANCING ON A ROCK by Chrys Salt
THE DEVIL'S TATTOO by Brett Evans (reviewed here)
DRAWN ON WATER by Mel Pryor (reviewed here)
FOOTPRINTS by Tim Kiely (reviewed here)
THE DISAPPEARED by Roger Scruton
EMMA by Jane Austen
LANDFALLS by Naomi Williams (reviewed here)
SUNSET EXPRESS by Robert Crais
STALKING THE ANGEL by Robert Crais
THIS NEW NOISE by Charlotte Higgins
I KNEW THE BRIDE by Hugo Williams
COHABITATION by Kate Bingham
MAKE ME by Lee Child
DICTATOR by Robert Harris
SUBMISSION by Michel Houellebecq
KOLYMSKY HEIGHTS by Lionel Davidson

T.S. ELIOT in COMPAYNE GARDENS, LONDON NW6

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Compayne Gardens has played an important part in my life too. My father visited a girlfriend here in the late 1940s. Decades later, in her own lovely flat, I proposed to my darling wife.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

KICKING THE BAR

I've been writing this for some years. It is what I call a biographical memoir of my father.  It is being published, I hope, by Unbound, the leading subscription publisher.  I say "I hope" because it all depends on my getting sufficient pledges for the book to make any kind of commercial sense.  Here's all the stuff you need to know:

http://unbound.co.uk/books/kicking-the-bar



Monday, 5 January 2015

Rembrandt at the National Gallery

A heartbreakingly tender painting. I hadn't seen it before, and it had a physical effect on me.  Odd how these things happen, unexpectedly.  I suppose one should not be surprised when confronted by peerless genius.  Speaking of which, you can keep your Michelangelos and your Raphaels, Rembrandt is The Man.  So tender, so sympathetic.  As with Shakespeare, the world is as much comedy as tragedy.  He takes the same care on an etching of a woman pissing as on a saint dying.  This painting of his son Titus usually hangs in the Rijksmusuem.

Titus, Rembrandt's son, in a monk's habit

Sunday, 4 January 2015

PRINT JOURNALISM LIVES!


Heroic philosopher son Thomas teaching my utterly beautiful grand-daughter how to read the feuillton.