Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Joy of Six 1038

"Johnson’s personal greed, hypocrisy, clumsy lies and sheer extravagance in overseeing the distribution of billions of pounds in government contracts to 'VIP' donors and friends of government ministers have made the workings of this machine all too publicly visible." Tom Scott says the Conservative Party will almost certainly act to remove Boris Johnson in the near future.

To preserve our environment, we must realise that nature is not elsewhere - in the safari park or on an eco-resort - but here and everywhere, argues John Burnside.

Jonathan Meades revisits the county of his boyhood: "Wiltshire, in the grip of the Church, the army and the past, gets the architecture and sub-architecture that reflects those unhappy fates."

"Although it was the next major leap forward in visual storytelling after Citizen Kane, many did not recognise it until the ’70s. The lyrical nature of the horror on the screen was perfectly complemented by the fantastic screenplay by James Agee." Swapnil Dhruv Bose on Charles Laughton's masterpiece Night of the Hunter.

The background to Marianne Faithfull's hit As Tears Go By is explored by Mick McStarkey.

Kathryn Burrington finds that the path to Halnaker Windmill is "a magical tunnel of trees".

Monday, January 24, 2022

Walking the secret alignments of London with John Rogers

A walk linking Bunhill Fields, Bunhill Row, Old Street, St Luke's and City Road. It takes in the burial places of William Blake and Daniel Defoe.

John Rogers has a Patreon account to support his videos and blogs at The Lost Byway.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

X Factor's Ray Quinn looks unrecognisable as he quits showbiz to become carpet fitter

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The Liverpool Echo wins our Headline of the Day Award.

Monday, January 03, 2022

Find me on social media

I'm afraid blogging is losing out to my caring responsibilities and I can't see that changing.

So maybe it's worth reminding you that I can also be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

The Joy of Six 1037

Richard Sears examines research suggesting that the overuse of psychiatric drugs is worsening public mental health in America.

"Each day on Twitter someone is held up for widespread public ridicule, and you want to make sure that it’s not you, because your job in life is never to do anything that might result in you getting made fun of by others." Freddie deBoer suggests we should not spend all day ridiculing others from afar on social media.

In the post-war era, Coventry was rebuilt as an optimistic, modernist city. But the selling off of the city centre since the 1980s has made this year's City of Culture feel more like a City for Developers, says Owen Hatherley.

"The gaze of the elf on the child’s real world (as opposed to play world) resonates with the purpose of the panopticon, based on Jeremy Bentham’s 18th century design for a model prison (a central tower in a circular structure, surrounded by cells). Backlighting in the central tower made it impossible for prisoners to discern whether or not they were being watched." Laura Pinto and Selena Nemorin uncover the sinister side of The Elf on the Shelf.

"Eardley’s short career is one of the most fascinating of her generation. She is a feverish, romantic successor to Goya and Soutine, and in these Glasgow pictures she is essentially a storyteller, capturing a community as it vanishes. The other pole of her painting life had nothing to do with urban Glasgow, but was situated among the seascapes and fields of Catterline, a village on the Kincardineshire coast that she began to visit in the early 1950s." Andrew O'Hagan celebrates the artist Joan Eardley.

Ed Simon on the rediscovery of the work of Thomas Traherne: "Circumstances surrounding the occasional rediscovery of the poetry of the 17th-century divine Thomas Traherne are as something out of one of his strange lyrics. Intimations of the allegorical, when in the winter of 1896—more than two centuries after he’d died—and some of his manuscript poetry was discovered in a London book stall among a heap that was 'about to be trashed.' ... How eerily appropriate that among that refuse was Traherne’s Centuries of Meditation, which included his observation that the “world is a mirror of infinite beauty, yet no man sees it.” Not until he chances upon it in a London book stall."

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Write a guest post for Liberal England

I welcome guest posts on Liberal England and am happy to publish ones on subjects far beyond the Liberal Democrats and British politics.

In fact I could do with some guest posts. I am now a full-time carer, which means I am struggling to find the time to come up with longer posts.

If you would like to write for this blog, please send me an email so we can discuss your idea or DM me on Twitter.

Charles Dickens describes Boris Johnson's hair

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He had not been asleep a quarter of an hour when the boy opened the door and thrust in his head, which was like a bundle of badly-picked oakum. Quilp was a light sleeper and started up directly.
The Old Curiosity Shop, chapter 5

You know, of course, what oakum is.

Monday, December 13, 2021

The Joy of Six 1036

The Police Bill is not just about curtailing the right to protest, writes Brian Paddick: "The new legislation allows the Home Secretary to force local authorities and other public bodies to hand over sensitive, personal information to the police."

Henry Redhead Yorke, who was MP for York between 1841 and 1848, was the son of a West Indian creole of African/British descent, whose mother was a manumitted slave from Barbuda. Amanda Goodrich discovers a previously unidentified non-white MP.

David Perkins reveals the surprising radicalism of Lawrence du Garde Peach, who wrote most of the books in Ladybird's Adventures from History series.

James Wright explores the popularity of local legends about secret passages.

"The Montreux Casino fire is one of the most mythologised moments in the history of rock. Taking place on the shoreline of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva, the fire would end up inspiring one of rock’s best-known tracks and become cemented in the genre’s history forevermore." Mick McStarkey on Frank Zappa, Deep Purple and the genesis of Smoke on the Water.

At the end of a world tour in 1973, a Santos side featuring the world’s greatest player came to London, where they chose a sleepy suburban town for their training base. Dominic Bliss uncovers the story of PelĂ© in Tolworth.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

On not seeing an early performance by Victoria Wood

Jasper Rees's authorised biography of Victoria Wood tells her story wonderfully well, though it is inevitably a sad book. Even as she is riding high in her career, you know an abrupt ending is coming.

You could argue that she worked too narrow a canvass or that there was something a little snobbish about some of her work, but who cares? She was three rare things in a television comedian: she was a woman, she had not been a member of the Cambridge Footlights and she was funny.

Rees incidentally repeats a sad fact that I recently read in a profile of Jo Brand. Women comedians mention their weight at the start of their act because a heckler will do so if they don't.

I might have seen Wood early in her career: together with her husband Geoffrey Durham, she performed at the University of York while I was a student there.

It did not go well:
After doing his act Geoffrey watched her from the back as she tried out some new material with no means of amplification: "She struggled from the beginning. No one could hear her properly and the show wnet downhill. I went for a walk round the building. As I came back two indignant guys were leaving, One said to the other, 'That was awful, It was like watching What the Papers Say'."
Remarkably, though, I had already seen Durham perform. He was a member of the cast in Peter Bogdanov's Leicester productions of Hamlet and The Tempest while I was still at school.

As we were doing these plays for A level, I went to performances of both.