Sunday, December 09, 2018

Cohen's railway scrapyard near Kettering

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Cohen's scrapyard at Cransley was located on the former Midland Railway's ironstone branch from Kettering to Loddington.

It used to be possible to spot the track to it curving off the main line just south of Kettering station. Houses now occupy the trackbed.

This atmospheric photograph, taken in February 1967, shows a former LMS shunter waiting to be broken up.

Hefner: I Took Her Love for Granted



Championed by John Peel, Hefner were a British indie band who flourished at the end of the last century.

I Took Her Love for Granted reached 136 in the UK singles chart in 1999. It deserved to get several places higher.

Hefner's lead singer Darren Hayman sounds fun:
I read in an interview from three years ago that you don’t like touring much due to the organisation involved. Is this still the case? 
Yep, touring is shit, only idiots and drummers enjoy it. It has very little to do with why I chose music as my profession. I like to play live, but touring is just miserable and sucks the life out of you.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

When I was young all my favourite books had maps


I could say that the maps in my beloved Lone Pine Club stories by Malcolm Saville made me look down on books that did not have maps on their endpapers, but I suspect their importance was even greater than that. It was the maps that attracted me to Malcolm Saville in the first place.

But I was not alone in seeing maps as essential to adventure stories. When Richard Jefferies’ Bevis the Story of a Boy, originally published as a three-volume adult novel, was reinvented as a children’s classic in 1932, the publisher Jonathan Cape pulled out all the stops. It was given illustrations by E.H. Shepard and a map. That map was drawn by an 11-year-old David Garnett.

These reflections come from a reading an article by Jonathan Crowe where he reviews The Writer’s Map: An Atlas of Imaginary Lands, which is edited by Huw Lewis-Jones.

Ever since Tolkien, fantasy writers have felt that their books need maps, but Crowe assures us that the “bog-standard fantasy maps from adult epic fantasy series” aren’t well represented in the book: “frankly, the maps here are much better”.

That is good to hear, though sometimes those maps can spring back to life. When the floods of 2014 struck, I remembered Richard Cowper’s The Road to Corlay:
The map on the endpapers … shows that much of the West Country has become the Somersea. And some present-day characters who are in touch with this future by some form of clairvoyance finally make sense of it: 
On the way they passed through the Outpatients' waiting room. One wall was decorated with a large scale relief map of the whole area surrounding Taunton. Ian walked over to it and contemplated it thoughtfully. "Look here," he said. "Just suppose this area was all flooded, the Quantocks would be an island and so would the Blackdown Hills."
But then Cowper’s map was always more interesting than bog-standard fantasy. And Saville's were studded with incident and human life,

Incidentally, I developed a passion for a rather ordinary children’s book by Ann Shead called The Jago Secret simply because it has a family tree on the endpapers. But that is a whole new subject.

Six of the Best 835

Stephen Bush says it was not Theresa May who killed Brexit but her adviser Nick Timothy:

Stephen Fry’s Brexit video repeats Remain’s 2016 mistakes, says Bobby Duffy.

"After painstakingly scrutinising the evidence, and crunching the numbers, Christophers arrives at this extraordinary estimate: since 1979, no less than 10% of the land area of Britain has been sold by the state - in all its various guises and incarnations - to the private sector." Will Self reviews The New Enclosure by Brett Christophers

"The system of institutions that functioned for two and a half centuries has rusted through, and we have to figure out how it’s all going to work in the twenty-first century." Mahsa Gessen interviews Garry Kasparov, the political activist and former world chess champion.

Sabrina Rau explains that those pop-up ‘I agree’ boxes aren’t just annoying: they’re potentially dangerous.

"Move It was going to be the B-side. This is where the luck comes in. Norrie found us a song called Schoolboy Crush and that was presented in adverts as the A-side for about a week. They played it to Jack Good who was just about to embark on [TV show] Oh Boy!, and he played both sides – the luck! He played both sides! Then he said, 'If your boy is going to be on my show it’s not going to be with Schoolboy Crush, it has to be with Move It.'" Cliff Richard talks to Record Collector.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Why we need to save the Gwent Levels



The Welsh Government wants to drive a 14-mile, six-lane motorway through the Gwent Levels. Here the Gwent Wildlife Trust makes the case against the new road.

Read more about the campaign to save the Gwent Levels.

Getty Images and anonymous comments: Two bits of Liberal England housekeeping

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As soon as Getty Images allowed private users to embed their images free of charge, I have made free use of that facility. Sometimes I even based a post on one of their images.
For the past couple of days, Getty's images have not been displaying on this blog. All you can see is a notice saying the image is no longer available for use.

Except, when you go to the Getty site you find the image is still there and is still available for use.

I shall not embed any more Getty images until this glitch has been fixed. When it has been, a pig will appear above every time you read this post.

******

Having a comments policy for your blog has always seemed a bit pretentious to me, particularly now that most responses to my posts are to be found on Twitter - you follow me here.

I have always deleted spam comments, and have become increasingly likely to delete posts that are rude about me or accuse me of bad faith.

Now I am becoming irritated by 'drive-by' anonymous posts that attack my views. They are 'drive-by' because the commenter is clearly not familiar with this blog. Have a look at the comments on my Stephen Lloyd post and my response to them to see what I mean.

You can stop people leaving anonymous comments, but that seems too restrictive. It's not that all anonymous comments are worthless: it's just that most worthless comments are anonymous.

So I will continue to allow anonymous comments but may be a little more trigger happy aboyt deleting them in future.

When Simon Titley ran a blog for Liberator he insisted that people gave their real names when commenting.

This caused outrage in some quarters, and it is true that there are people who have good reasons for remaining anonymous. It can also be a liberation: I enjoyed the years when no one knew that it was me who wrote Lord Bonkers' Diary.

But, more and more, I see why Simon did it.

The well-worn path from Liberty to being a Labour hack

When I was a teenager and had already decided I was a Liberal, two of the big names in civil liberties campaigning were Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman of Liberty - or the National Council for Civil Liberties as it then was.

Twenty years later they were both impeccably on-message New Labour ministers, sharing Tony Blair's exasperation with "libertarian nonsense".

Another 20 years on and I find Shami Chakrabarti is set on the same path. As one viewer put it last night:
The moral, I suppose, is that you should be wary of having heroes - or heroines.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

The National Forest: Creating a forest for learning



The National Forest covers 200 square miles of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

It contains both ancient woodland and new planting, much of it on former mining and industrial land.

Put at its most romantic, it is an attempt to join the ancient forests of Charnwood and Needwood.

This charming little film shows the use a local of school is making of the forest for education - campfires, climbing trees and all.

Councillor accidentally sends photo of topless woman to mothers' WhatsApp group during meeting






The Independent, with the help of Sheffield Labour's Mohammad Maroof, wins our Headline of the Day Award.

On not being impressed by Stephen Lloyd

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If Stephen Lloyd were determined to back Theresa May because he believed in Brexit, I would not be pleased, but I would understand him.

But he is determined to do so even though he believes Brexit is against the national interest.

That is because, at the last election, he promised voters in Eastbourne that he would support the result of the referendum and not campaign for a second one.

I presume he did this because he thought it was the only way he would get elected.

That is not an approach to politics I admire, but it is his third promise that really gets me.

It seems he promised to support the deal the prime minister reached with the European Union, whatever its content.

But if you are not willing to hold the executive to account then there is no point your being in parliament.

I also note the comment of Isabel Hardman that his resignation of the party whip has:
baffled Lib Dems, not so much because Lloyd is stepping back from the most avowedly anti-Brexit party in the Commons. It’s more that he’s doing so to support a vote that no one thinks the government has any chance of winning.

Vince Cable was in Market Harborough today

Photo from @vincecable on Twitter

Vince Cable was in Leicestershire today and did a lunchtime meeting in Market Harborough with representatives from various community groups.

I usually work from home on Thursdays, so I was able to drop in for some of it. You can see Vince in the photograph above with Cllr Phil Knowles (leader of the Lib Dem Group on Harborough district) and Zuffar Haq, who was our parliamentary candidate at the last three general elections.

Vince came over well in the session - there was something of the kindly professor about him. He said he thinks there is now a 50 per cent chance of a second referendum, but the next few days will be crucial.

One of his themes was they way that the debate over Brexit has divided the country. However it ends, politicians will have to make an effort to bring us together again.

He was more complimentary about Theresa May thank I would have been and emphasised that he does not question the legitimacy of the first referendum result. It's just that people now know a lot more about what Brexit would mean than they did two years ago.

Even so, I was struck by how short of information on Europe this educated audience felt. Would we be forced to join the Euro if we gave up the idea of Brexit? was one of the quesitons.

I can also reveal that Vince mourns the absence of the Daleks and Cybermen from the new season of Doctor Who. He sees it because it's on just before Strictly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Leicestershire vs South Africa, 1924

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Leicestershire take the field against the touring South Africans on 3 May 1924.

The ground is not Grace Road, where Leicestershire play their games today, but the old Aylestone Road ground.

As I wrote when I visited it three summers ago:
This is the ground where, between 1901 and 1939, Leicestershire played their county games. According to the club's website, the great names who played hear include Grace, Bradman, Hammond and Hutton. ... 
The county played a couple of further championship games at Aylestone Road after the war and the final first-class match here was between Leicestershire and Cambridge University in 1962. Mike Brearley was a member of the visiting team.
You can see it's the same ground if you compare the photograph below, which I took that day, with the one above.

Write a guest post for Liberal England


I welcome guest posts on Liberal England.

As you can see from this list of the 10 most recent ones, I am happy to consider a wide range of subjects.

If you would like to write a guest post yourself, please send me an email so we can discuss your idea.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The Shrewsbury to Ludlow Railway part 1



Another video from the Shropshire Railways YouTube channel.

The blurb there says:
On this journey around Shropshire's current and disused railways, I travel from the county town of Shrewsbury down to historic Ludlow. In part one I travel southwards to Church Stretton and we discover how Shrewsbury and Church Stretton Stations have changed through the years. We also go and find the disused stations of Condover, Dorrington and Leebotwood.
Part 2 will be along soon.

Tom Brake chides Geoffrey Cox for his descent into Vaudeville

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Tom Brake, a former deputy leader of the House, began his speech in this afternoon's contempt debate as follows:
May I start by praising the Attorney General for spending more than two hours answering questions, but may I also gently chide him for the manner in which, occasionally, his style of delivery descended rather into Vaudeville? Finger-pointing, faux bonhomie and expansive arm gestures may work in court, but perhaps he might like to leave those at the Bar of the House.
If that sort of thing works in court, it does not increase your confidence in the legal system.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Six of the Best 834

Michael Taylor makes the case for trade unions: "As a lifelong member of first the National Union of Teachers and then the University and Colleges Union, I can assert with authority that without Trades Union support I would have been in great difficulty at a number of points in my career."

"We have a government of hypocrites that is happy to draw votes from people through fearmongering, but which, when shamed by single cases of cruelty, pretends there is no link. And we have been failed by an opposition that historically has either followed the same policies, or has preferred until recently to maintain a cynical silence." Nesrine Malik says hostile rhetoric at the top of politics leads to bullying in the playground.

Ted Jackson visits the Louisiana coast and a native community that is being lost to the sea.

"Charles Dickens was well aware of his status and, like today’s celebs, he was fiercely protective of the image he promoted." Gerald Dickens asks what his  great great grandfather looked like.

Michael Livesley is interviewed by John Fleming about his revival of Viv Stanshall's Sir Henry at Rawlinson's End.

Lucy Scholes on the writing career of Penelope Mortimer.

"Sat there like Queen Mary"

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The awful English mania for respectability that is blamed on the Victorians really dates from the early decades of the 20th century. But even then we could be more subversive than you might expect.

Rosemary Hill writes about Queen Mary - wife of George V, mother of George VI and grandmother of our present Queen - in the London Review of Books:
The present queen was not the only person to feel, when her grandmother Queen Mary died in 1953, that she ‘could not imagine a world without her’. The ‘old queen’, as she was generally known to the public, had become a totemic figure, rigidly upright in her toque and pearls, a grandmother to the nation. 
Her daughter-in-law, the queen mother, later fulfilled the same role, but in an entirely different way. Where the ‘queen mum’ was, or appeared to be as long as nobody let her speak in public, twinkly and friendly, fond of gin and jewellery, Queen Mary was cast as grandparent in the severe Victorian mould, a living reminder of an age gone by and not very fondly remembered. 
For the generation who were in their twenties during the Second World War, which included my parents and their friends, to say that someone ‘sat there like Queen Mary’ was to indicate that a terminal blight had been cast over the occasion.
This is in the course of a review of James Pope-Hennessy's The Quest for Queen Mary, which details his efforts to write a biography of the old monster. You can see the relevant passage in front of the LRB's paywall.

Rosemary Hill concludes that the story about your being obliged to hand it over if Mary stayed with you and took a liking to one of your possessions is untrue. But, she argues, it does show what people believed about her character.

I recall John Howard Davies - David Lean's Oliver Twist and later the producer of Fawlty Towers - talking about the experience of being presented to her as a child. He found it terrifying.

David Attenborough the naturist wins Huffington Post UK our Correction of the Day Award

Well done everybody.

GUEST POST For Liberalism to succeed we must embrace all of its creed

Patrick Maxwell fears identity politics and the fight against Brexit are undermining Liberalism in the Liberal Democrats.

Liberalism is the most popular political ideal in the world. The notions of freedom and justice have had the power through the centuries to inspire and drive social, political and economic freedom.

Despite this, the creed espoused by the greatest civil rights activists and the big beasts of international suffrage seems in danger of succumbing to the identity politics mob and losing its original purpose and soul.

The dawn of identity politics has led to liberal values being widely distorted. Centrist politics remains in danger of becoming ignored in favour of a clear left-right divide ignoring any compromise and sensible pragmatism.

The 'culture wars' in the United States have driven many into their respective moral trenches, never to be reconciled from their echo-chambers. The 'no-platforming' evident in many universities in a quest to conform to the 'respect' agenda has driven many on the right to cry wolf about their new found state of victimhood.

Many a commentator has lamented the loss of freedom of speech, which has led to 'freedom fighters' and keyboard warriors to launch a more visceral attack on their 'social justice warrior' opponents. This war of attrition could have desperate ramifications for centrist and liberal values. Honest, pragmatic politics must respond.

Liberalism can only work when economic freedom and social and personal emancipation go hand in hand together. The task for progressive parties across Europe and America is to make the case for a Liberalism that allows for personal freedom but also the right to offend. This challenge includes standing up for all liberal principles, in positive and compassionate capitalism, cultural and social freedom and the right of equal opportunity.

John Locke, one the greatest Enlightenment philosophers and a founding father of the modern Liberal creed, was instrumental in the rising popularity of British freedom of religion, separation of Church and state, arguing the case for every man to have the right to life, liberty and property, the phrase also used by the Founding Fathers of America in their life, liberty and pursuit of happiness expression in the opening lines of The Constitution.

It was this early promotion of civil rights, free trade and democratic suffrage that founded the basis of the Welfare State in the early 20th century under Campbell-Bannerman, Lloyd-George and Asquith. The Liberal Democrat party today seems to have forgotten its original roots in the vain hope of stopping the biggest issue of the day in Brexit and distancing themselves from the mark the party made during the Coalition years.

For a party that had long been seen as a fringe protest movement, having members around the Cabinet table showed what progress the party had made. With Vince Cable as leader, a man who cites capitalism as only practical, not morally positive, the party is in danger of becoming that fringe wing that does not visibly promote the widespread benefits of modern free-trade policy out of a fear of being called a right-wing neo-liberal.

This position is not sustainable for the long-term future of the party and the obsession with Brexit and a second referendum, though honourable causes, won't do them any good come the next election.

Henry Campbell-Bannerman's two-and-a-half year stint as Prime Minister led to the beginning of the Welfare State and the Liberal reforms in the run to the great People's Budget of 1910. CB's pragmatism in ensuring 'peace, retrenchment and reform' secured widespread popularity, friendly foreign relations and better conditions and rights for workers, the man himself affirmed that he was 'keenly in sympathy' with members of the newly-formed Labour movement.

Yet he was still labelled an old-style Gladstonian Liberal by many, despite his large reforming stance. His example as leader is one of pragmatism and compromise to achieve progress, and the modern party could take a lot from his example.

To make headway in the age of identity politics, the winner-takes-it-all type of politics that has enveloped many of the movements in Westminster, the Liberal Democrats must present a reforming, pragmatic, socially and economically progressive message to the electorate, which means including all the aspects of their core belief to ensure a positive and influential future for the party.

Patrick Maxwell blogs at Gerrymander.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Three children went missing in Paddington in 1965

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A striking photograph, particularly when you read the caption:
24th May 1965: Two boys watching constable Jim Green skin diving in the Grand Union Canal during a search for three missing children.
A bit of googling reveals the story behind this image and that it had a happy ending.

An article on Independent R's - a Queen's Park Rangers fan site - reveals who the children were:
As a child at the time, I remember my parents and other adults talking about the children that had gone missing. A six-year-old boy, Michael Leigh, Juliana Adebona a seven-year-old and her three-year-old brother David from Errington Road, had simply disappeared while playing out in the street. 
In those days it wasn’t unusual for very young children to be outside the house alone. The local streets and bombsites were our playground and the older children kept an eye on the younger ones. 
As the days went by there were all sorts of rumours about the missing children, and few thought that they would be found alive.
But they were:
On the south side of Warlock Road, (W9), there was a row of 4/5 houses that were slums, but had recently been refurbished by the Council. The houses were ready for occupation, but had stood empty for a few weeks. 
A man walking past the houses thought he had heard a noise, so he opened the gate of one of the houses and went into the yard. He looked at a row of rubbish bunkers and heard a noise from inside one of them. He opened the door and discovered the three children inside, barely alive, but alive. ... 
The houses were empty. The bunker door could only be opened from the outside. I think the children had crawled into one of the bunkers and the door had shut behind them. The police assumed that the houses had been searched, when in fact they hadn't. 
In his book, ‘Nipper’ Read, who arrested the Krays, said that he was involved in the search for the children. As a result, he insisted that in any further police searches, buildings that had been searched should be clearly marked with chalk.

Vicargate made me remember when the BBC did pay actors to pose as members of the public



My first reaction to Vicargate - the appearance of a woman on Newsnight in a dog collar when she is not ordained in any recognised church - was that it was extremely funny.

When I could see its serious side, I reflected that it was an unfortunate event that the BBC would wish to avoid in future.

But I reckoned without Auntie's unwillingness ever to admit that she has made a mistake.

Here is what Newsnight tweeted in response to those who questioned this incident:
It's true that some people noticed that Lynn is also an actress and has also appeared on several other news programmes, but that was not my concern. From my point of view, it looked as though the BBC had invented a conspiracy theory only to knock it down.

But I was reminded of a BBC News story from 1999, the era when Vanessa Feltz was being promoted by the corporation as a British Oprah Winfrey:
Talk show host Vanessa Feltz is to work on new shows for the BBC after the scrapping of her daytime programme. 
The Vanessa Show was at the centre of a row over fake guests earlier this year, after allegations that actors were booked to appear as genuine guests. 
Four production staff are no longer with the BBC and another was given a formal warning after the show was accused of featuring bogus models, actresses and strippers, and two total strangers posing as sisters.
Makes you think, doesn't it? Though you could be kind and take it as an index of how seriously the BBC takes such deception.

"Pastor", to return to Vicargate, is a conveniently loose word. Lynn turns out to be ordained in an internet-based church dedicated to making its adherents rich and to have a history of tweeting against Islam.

That's her in full fig in the photograph above. If she appears on the BBC yet again, she should me made to dress like that.

Laibach: Geburt einer Nation


A shocking reworking of a beloved Queen song that turns it into a Nazi anthem?

I see Laibach's version of One Vision as bringing out the totalitarian tendencies inherent in the song and in stadium rock in general.

As Moe Bishop once said for Vice:
If you don’t have time to listen to their cover of the Beatles' entire Let It Be album, try their cover of Queen’s “One Vision” (retitled "Geburt einer Nation," or "Birth of a Nation"). It’s hilarious, but it’s not satire or even parody. 
[Milan] Fras transforms the lyrics ("One flash of light / One God, one vision / One flesh, one bone / One true religion / One voice, one hope / One real decision," etc.) not by mocking them, but by believing them with a militancy of which Freddie Mercury was not capable. 
By singing Laibach’s covers in this way, Fras doesn’t reduce them to absurdity. Instead, the performances reveal the songs as authentic visions of utopia that had been betrayed by their creators.
Talking of their cover of Let It Be, their beautiful Across the Universe has already been a Sunday music choice for this blog.

Saturday, December 01, 2018

John Pardoe, Verdi and Aslan

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John Pardoe, Liberal MP for North Cornwall 1966-79, who was then unsuccessfully standing for the party's leadership, pictured with his golden Labradors, Verdi and Aslan, on Hampstead Heath in 1976.

Labour's timidity over Brexit dissected

The new issue of the London Review of Books carries a review of Neal Ascherson's book Tom Nairn: ‘Painting Nationalism Red’? by Rory Scothorne.

In the course of it (and behind the LRB paywall), Scothorne nicely dissects Labour's timidity over Brexit:
None of Labour's warring factions dares to suggest that this moment of constitutional breakdown demands a constitutional revolution; instead the party is constrained by the bad logic of adjectival manoeuvre - hard, soft, chaotic, no deal, Tory, people’s – around an all-consuming and unstoppable noun. 
When experience strips away these rhetorical qualifiers, Labour will be dangerously complicit in what remains.
Neal Ascherson, who stood for the Liberal Democrats in the 1999 Holyrood elections, is one of my favourite writers. And I remember reading The Enchanted Glass: Britain and Its Monarchy by Tom Nairn back in the 1980s, when it was widely reviewed.

Stephen Fry Syndrome: If Remain gets a second referendum will it have any idea how to win it?

We now go over live to Remain HQ. 
Will Straw CBE: The next item on the agenda is to choose the narrator for our new video. Remember the focus groups everybody: Leave voters see us as elitist and condescending. So who's the right person to dispel that view and win them over? 
Freddie and Fiona [together]: Stephen Fry!
I have real problems with this video. It seems more calculated to make Remainers feel good about themselves than win over people who voted Leave last time.

And if you are going to try to puncture Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg's absurd claim to be anti-elitists, don't choose as your narrator someone who sounds as though he has swallowed Brian Sewell.

Stephen Fry was surely chosen because he is popular with people who already support Remain. They will not be our problem if there is a second referendum.

It makes you wonder, as I worried back in May, if we Remainers have learnt anything from our defeat two years ago.

As to who should have narrated the video instead, the best suggestion I have heard is Ray Winstone:

Friday, November 30, 2018

A Sixties advertisement for Brede Place near Rye


Another advertisement from that guide to Rye dating from a 1967 family holiday. It's proving to be the best 1/6 my parents ever spent.

What makes it more interesting is that Brede Place does not appear to be open to the public today.

Six of the Best 833

"Rather than writing off rural America, Democrats have an opportunity to present a vision and policy agenda that have a real shot at reversing rural and small-town America’s declining living conditions. But this requires appreciating how and why those conditions plummeted in the first place, with few signs of improvement." Sarah Miller and Austin Frerick map a way forward for the Democrats.

Ignazio Cabras says new breweries could revive Britain's pubs.

"According to a publicity handout at the time, VOLE was in favour of 'canals, railways, shove ha’penny, old buildings, mushrooms, civil rights, cycling, recycling, allotments, blue-tits, wagtails, oak trees, voles, conservation, alternative technology, small businesses, village schools, yards, feet and inches, rights of way, local history, human welfare, Basil Brush and darts'." Andy Childs pays tribute to Richard Boston and his magazine.

Hannah Arendt remembers W.H. Auden.

"Seberg’s scenes are undoubtedly the film’s strongest, not least because of her subversion of the clich├ęd confident American in Paris. She flits between charismatic stability and wide-eyed chaos in ways that aren’t fully describable in words but are totally engrained there on the celluloid." Adam Scovell loves Jean Seberg’s performance in Breathless.

Bored by the Carlsen vs Caruana world chess championship match? Andrey Terekhov takes us back to 1954 and Botvinnik vs Smyslov, which went down to the wire and saw eight consecutive decisive games.

Alan Hollinghurst on Jeremy Thorpe and Hugh Grant

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Alan Hollinghurst has written about A Very English Scandal, the BBC drama based on the Thorpe Affair, for The New York Review of Books.

In doing so he picks up something I missed in my own review for Liberator:
Thorpe is played with breathtaking plausibility by Hugh Grant. Only at one moment did I have doubts. Thorpe became “the youngest man to lead a British political party in more than a century” when he gained the Liberal leadership: he was thirty-seven. Grant is fifty-eight, and his age, perfect for the more cadaverous Thorpe of the late 1970s, lends a perhaps misleading color to the flashback scenes in 1960, when he first meets and seduces Scott ("Now I’m going to kiss you, and you will enjoy it"). 
Thorpe, a well-connected Old Etonian, had all the readily exploitable power and prestige of class and status, but he was only thirty-two, a young man himself, not the late-middle-aged predator we see onscreen. The social dynamics may have been similar, but the personal ones must have been somewhat different. In reality Thorpe was one year younger than Grant was when he played the tousle-haired Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
That explains why Thorpe's sexual encounter with Scott seemed so like rape and my puzzlement, as the drama unfold, at Scott's insistence that they had been in a loving relationship.

Anyway, do read Hollinghurst's article. It is very good.