Monday, 4 February 2019


One of my top guys.  Astounding how he manages to make pictures that are both pleasing and true.  Hockney owes a lot to him.  I think especially that purple shadow colour. Hitchens too, I think.

Many of my favourite pictures are painted from above - as from a step ladder.  The dining tables, Marthe in the bath etc.. 

And all those nudes of Marthe, his lifelong companion, how intimate they are, and they give a clue as to the trick Bonnard performs: His world is tremendously used, imperfect, and wholly familiar.  It is, in a sense, comic (not haha - indeed occasionally boohoo).  Wittering now, so here are some pics.

Sunday, 3 February 2019


“Black Panther” - was told it was fairly ordinary.  Had enough of suerhero movies anyway.
“BlacKkKlansman” - Kevin Allen said it was pants, so not going.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” - can't stand Queen
“The Favourite” - must see list
“Green Book” - absolutely wonderful
“Roma” - moving, beautiful, lots of dog-poo.
“A Star Is Born” - cracking stuff.  Good chemistry
“Vice” - meh, may watch one day.

Remarks, recommendations, disagreements welcomed.  Is 'The Favourite' as good as 'Green Book' is the only question I need answering otherwise. 

Friday, 1 February 2019



Egan, Brennan, O'Carroll and Kelly.
Four Londoners from County Kerry.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

BOOKS 2019

DAVID COPPERFIELD by Charles Dickens
TZILI by Aharon Appelfeld
A WEEKEND IN NEW YORK by Benjamin Markovits
A HANDFUL OF DUST by Evelyn Waugh
THE NEIGHBOURHOOD by Mario Vargas Llosa
TO THROW AWAY UNOPENED by Viv Albertine (unfinished)

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Heidelberg pics

Flying visit to Heidelberg in depths of winter.  Zoo and cinnamon snails.  And Gawain and the Green Knight (Cal) and David Copperfield (self).  Thomas, Nora, Johanna best hosts evs.

Monday, 7 January 2019

David Copperfield's Women

Can there be another book so highly populated with female characters?  It is a book, featuring Mr Micawber and Uriah Heep, no less, dominated by women.  I had never really noticed this before.  I read it first when i was 16, when I suppose I must have identified strongly with DC.  A second reading, I think in my thirties or forties, I simply luxuriated in.  Now these women strike me powerfully, as though Dickens is giving something away about himself.  And just as women are - despite all those godawful homogenising identity politics fascists we're hectored at by - just as people are - they are all quite tremendously different and themselves.

Clara Copperfield
Miss Murdstone
Betsey Trotwood
Mrs Gummidge
Little Em'ly
Mrs Gummidge
Miss Mowcher
Mrs Steerforth
Rosa Dartle
Mrs Crupp
Mrs Micawber
and more, I'm sure, whose names for the moment escape me. 

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Friday, 28 December 2018


Well, of the BBC's selection, I've read just one: the new Reacher.  I did read Sally Rooney's first novel, 'Conversations with Friends' but it failed to whet my appetite for 'Normal People'.  I did read some books published this year - a good novel by Cressida Connolly, set among Mosleyites on the south coast, an honest and tear-inducing memoir by Louisa Young, welcome new poetry by Douglas Dunn, a collection of medical anecdotes, both funny and moving, by Keyvan Moghissi, and a terrific book about 'Where Eagles Dare' by Geoff Dyer.  Another very good thriller was Henry Porter's 'Firefly'.  And now I'm halfway through David Copperfield (third time).  It'll be the first book I finish in 2019.  Putting the mark high for what is to come.  Looking forward to it.  Aren't books great?

Though I don't intend to read anything on this list - sorry, 'ultimate guide' - here is what provoked the above.


I heard a few weeks before Christmas that a very good friend of my Mum and Dad - of the family - had died. He was terrifically distinguished, but I wasn't aware of his academic or intellectual significance when I was a boy, which is when I knew him. Well, I understood that he was interested in things - in the children of his friends for example. He would question us, in that lovely gentle Jewish South African voice, both quizzical and knowing, about what we were up to - I am sure we gave very dull answers, but he never showed disappointment. We went to stay with the Klugs in Cambridge (where my mother had first met Aaron) every Whitsun holiday. They had a lovely house with a big dining table - the white cloth stretched for miles up and down it - a largish garden we made the most of, and a half timbered Morris estate. 'They' were Aaron and Liebe and Adam and David. Adam was ferociously intelligent, a good deal older than I was. I seem to recall that he ran samizdat into the eastern bloc or something... He died of cancer, I learn, at some horribly early age. David was younger than I was, but almost certainly cleverer. He is, I believe, an academic of note. Liebe had been a dancer. She and I tried to get a sort of UK-SA arts programme going after Mandela was released, but probably through my indolence it came to nothing. Liebe was no-nonsense, but had a wonderful, full laugh. I'm very sorry to have lost contact with the Klugs. They were an important part of my childhood. Aaron was a kind of model human being.

Books on the back of 'Negative Caopability'

Marianne Faithfull's new album is entitled 'Negative Capability'.  On the back of the cover is a photo containing the following books.

Oscar Wilde / Оскар Уайльд  [that's OW in Russian - there's no title otherwise]
Vladimir Nabokov - Letters to Vera [his wife]
Chet Filippo - Hank Williams, Your Cheatin' Heart
Frances Yates - The Art of Memory (I'm especially impressed by this - I once read a book by Frances Yates called The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age, and was dead proud to have done so).
Henrietta - Henrietta [I need help with this one]
Peter Siskind - Easy Riders
Barry Miles - title unshown, but could (might well) be In the Sixties
Sleeping Beauty and other Fairy Tales
Unidentifiable volume
The Complete Pelican Shakespeare

The phrase 'negative capability' was coined by Keats to describe Shakespeare's ability to render truth beyond the reach of mere fact or reason.

In the gatefold:
Howard Jacobson's Kalooki Nights and A. N. Wilson's After the Victorians (both authors, it so happens, with whom I have had conversations). I have not, however, met Andrea di Robillant, the author of Lucia in the Age of Napoleon. Other titles are generally indecipherable, although there is one called 'Happenings', which is probably about, you know, 'happenings', those occasions that take place in art galleries where nude persons cover themselves in paint or blood or feathers and roll around making marks, remarks or merely spectacles of themselves.


Not only a fascinating portrait of love (requited and otherwise), libraries, life, objection, doubt, forestry, war, Israel, Palestine, quakers, art, and peace, but also beautifully put, and finely edited.  And a lovely object in itself.  Plus an outstanding Foreword.  Well, a Foreword anyway, by me.

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Saturday, 22 December 2018