Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Roll on Saturday and the start of the Six Nations.
Sorry no Romania.  They used to be fairly good at rugby.

Monday, 20 January 2014


Astoundingly, I have seen all these 2013 releases. About as mainstream as it gets, I confess, but then, being one, I like to champion the middle brow. My top ten (OK, eleven) in no particular order are the coloured ones.  And so many unseen: Despicable Me 2, Frances Ha, GoodVibrations, etc etc
The Impossible
Django Unchained
Zero Dark Thirty
Iron Man 3
Star Trek Into Darkness
Before Midnigh
The Heat
Alan Partridge
The Lone Ranger
Kick Ass 2
Kings of Summer
About Time
The Great Beauty
The Great Hip Hop Hoax
White House Down
Blue Jasmine
Sunshine on Leith
Captain Phillips
Enough Said

Hunger Games: Catching Fire
American Hustle
In A World... 

Blimey - loads of good flims!

Anyone else have a list?

Saturday, 18 January 2014


PRIVATE VIEW: FEBRUARY 2nd, 12.00 - 6.00

Friday, 17 January 2014


The times are not simple; poets able
must eschew clarity and humble sense

and essay something more, hmmm, unhumable.
Death must not be death alone but give offence.

The blackbirds’ nest plundered by a magpie
on the lookout for glinting chickseye.

The eyeless chicks turfed out and taken by
a soft furred fox, healthy, protected, sly.

But one must not draw conclusions. Even
speculation is questionable, Steven.

Poetry police’re behind the heather,
helmets glinting. Unclouded weather:

we remain not invisible. It is clear
the world’s back-to-front, as in a mirror.

Wynn Wheldon

May 2012

This poem was first published in The Rialto (no. 76) at the end of 2012


I am spoiled for talented nieces.  Here is yet another. I have no idea who sang the original version.

Thursday, 9 January 2014


RSC at the Barbican
January 9th, 2014

Director: Greg Doran
Talent: David Tennant, Michael Pennington, Oliver Ford Davies, Nigel Davies, Jane Lapotaire

Present: WW, NM, RM, RP, Roland Walters

I am reliably informed that at the outset the cast was told to think of Bolingbroke as captain of rugby and Richard as captain of cricket, and so it was. The contrast between the two protagonists was heavily underlined, to good effect, Bolingbroke (Nigel Davies) roughly utilitarian in a Martyn Williams sort of way, Richard (Tennant) graceful and careless as Gower.  Of course Tennant's is the main role, and his performance was subtle and intelligent: as Richard's royalty diminishes, so the man emerges.  He begins reedy-voiced, effeminate, but assuming his own semi-divinity (he is fey but strutting), and in the course of the play grows stronger in voice and truth to himself. The production is stately, perhaps purposefully, but pace is sacrificed (though this correspondent must confess to a jet lag that enforced the occasional float into dreams).  The design by Stephen Brimson Lewis is first class, unobtrusively emphatic.  

Monday, 6 January 2014

BOOKS 2014

MUSEUM PIECES by Wendy Pratt (poetry)
SELECTED POEMS  by Robert Pinsky (poetry)
HOMBRE by Elmore Leonard (novel)
ASHENDEN by Somerset Maugham (novel)
RAYLAN by Elmore Leonard (novel)
SPEAK, OLD PARROT by Dannie Abse (poetry)
CORIOLANUS by William Shakespeare (play)
THIS AFTERNOON AND I by Sarah Roby (poetry)
ECLIPSE by Kim Lasky (poetry)
TWO TURTLE DOVES by Alex Monroe (autobiography) (reviewed by me here)
BEDSIT DISCO QUEEN by Tracey Thorn (autobiography)
OTHER PEOPLE'S COUNTRIES by Patrick McGuinness (autobiography)(reviewed by me here)
COMPLETION by Tim Walker (novel)
THE WATER STEALER by Maurice Riordan (poetry)
CAPITAL by John Lanchester (novel)
THE QUARRY by Iain Banks (novel)
THE PEDANT IN THE KITCHEN by Julian Barnes (cookery)
HARD TIMES by Charles Dickens (novel)
NEW SELECTED POEMS by P.J. Kavanagh (poetry) Reviewed by me here
TOY TOWN TELLY & STONE AGE FILMING by Forbes Taylor (autobiography)
THE EMBASSY OF CAMBODIA by Zadie Smith (short story)
BOLAN by Mark Paytress (biography)
BLOOMSBURY AND THE POETS by Nicholas Murray (reviewed by me here)
UP TO MAMETZ by Llewelyn Wyn Griffith
TO SING AWAY THE DARKEST DAYS by Norbert Hirschhorn (reviewed by me in Lunar Poetry 1)
AN OFFICER AND A SPY by Robert Harris
INGATHERING by Dawn Wood (reviewed by me in Iota)
THE DOG by Joseph O'Neill (reviewed by me here)
THE GUTS by Roddy Doyle
THE ZONE OF INTEREST by Martin Amis (reviewed by me here)
STONER by John Williams
FOOTSTEPS by Tim Kiely (reviewed by me in Lunar Poetry 4)
J by Howard Jacobson
PERSONAL by Lee Child
UNCHOSEN by Julie Burchill
LISTS OF NOTE ed. Shaun Usher (reviewed by me here)
AMNESIA by Peter Carey (reviewed by me here)
DRAWN ON WATER by Mel Pryor (review in Lunar Poetry)
WATERLOO by Bernard Cornwall
THE BLACK ECHO by Michael Connolly
FUNNY GIRL by Nick Hornby
SUSPECT by Robert Crais

Conservative Beliefs

This seems to me to encapsulate the central tenets of conservatism with brilliant concision.  It is from Roger Scruton's article in the current Spectator (4.1.14). which can be found in its entirety here.

"Conservatives believe that our identities and values are formed through our relations with other people, and not through our relation with the state. The state is not an end but a means. Civil society is the end, and the state is the means to protect it. The social world emerges through free association, rooted in friendship and community life. And the customs and institutions that we cherish have grown from below, by the ‘invisible hand’ of co-operation. They have rarely been imposed from above by the work of politics, the role of which, for a conservative, is to reconcile our many aims, and not to dictate or control them."

A Word on Iceland

We were there in all for around ten hours, four of them at the swish and comfortable and generally chilled airport.  We liked Iceland.  We were picked up at 9.30 and taken to the Blue Lagoon.  It was still dark, and we drove, through lava-bristling landscape into a kind of Roger Dean dawn. Otherworldly, especially after no sleep on the plane from Boston.  The Blue Lagoon, which I think is also the title of a Brooke Shields film of questionable taste, is a large (about the size of a football pitch) volcanic pond full of sulphurous hot water.  It is very odd indeed to plunge out of the freezing chill-factory dry into the steaming hot wet and then simply to walk about in it, surrounded on all sides by needle sharp black rock.  Who did we share it with?  All sorts.  Really, all sorts.  Brits laughing, Japanese chattering, Nordic couples canoodling.  Very fat middle aged women.  Rather svelte young women.  Lots of ugly men. We were encouraged to slather mud over our faces for its health-giving properties.  I think most of the health came from the giggles that ensued.  The heat of the water was in patches rather scary in the I'm going to get scalded all over way, but one had only to stand up to believe that it was perhaps better to be too hot than too cold.  The place was full of people yet at no time did one feel cramped or put upon.  The changing rooms were clean and had extremely groovy futuristic lockers. We had sushi in the cafe afterwards and then drove back through the now fully visible, but no less weird landscape.  We want to return.

Cal in front of the Blue Lagoon