Sunday 30 March 2008

One small misstep

This Nasa photo shows an astronaut working on the exterior of a new laboratory at the International Space Station - a symbol of triumphant, intricate human exactitude.

Can it really be true, as I'm told by a friend with sharper eyes than mine, that the astronaut has his boots on the wrong feet?

Click on the pic to examine the high-res version.

The man who stole Alistair Cooke

A grisly saga of modern-day body-snatching.

Faking fingerprints

… is easy.

Mayor of Stiffkey?

As someone with more time for Red Ken than is now fashionable, I don't want to turn this blog into a Boris-fest, but this frank write-up by Max Hastings is too good to miss.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Need to know

Next Thursday, following the fifth anniversary of the death of Jeremiah Duggan (whom I wrote about two months back), a petition will be presented at 10 Downing Street, urging the PM to intervene to ensure a proper inquiry into the whole disturbing business. Please consider adding your signature.

Old hoofer

Seventy-eight this year, Ann Emery, sister of Dick, is still belting it out in the West End.

Friday 28 March 2008

Falstaff with a thousand Prince Hals

"Never a diplomat", "somewhat Rabelaisian" - a portrait of Michael Croft, founder of the National Youth Theatre.

Remember optimism?

Joan Bakewell revisits the Macmillan years.

Thursday 27 March 2008

A Philadelphia story

Someone burgles your home and the cops are no help. So you find a pawn shop where he's been trying to pawn your stuff and they supply three security-camera images of him that you stick on your blog. Then someone sends you an offensive voicemail offering to sell your belongings back to you, so you stick that on your blog too. Then your commenters locate his MySpace page, and his YouTube profile featuring his pathetic attempts to rap, and within 24 hours the entire web has united behind you and you can find out everything you need to know just by Googling. Turns out there are two guys rather than one, but one of them calls personally at your home to return your laptop, and someone else leaves your XBox on your doorstep! Ah, this is what the blogosphere is for…

Wednesday 26 March 2008

You with the eyebrows, OUT!

A scheme to ban Alistair Darling from every pub in the UK. (More here, here and here.)

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Love one another or die

An Easter message from anticant:
Such renewal was never more sorely needed than in this diabolical first decade of the 21st century. With a memory stretching back to the 1930s, I cannot remember any other decade which has so filled me with fury, loathing, and dread of the purblind pigmies who are leading the world recklessly to political, economic, and ecological destruction in the name of their false creeds and dogmas.

Cosmic upheaval

God marks the passing of Arthur C Clarke.

Humming along nicely

The purpose of is to encourage its readers to make disrespectful gestures towards any Hummer H2 they may come across, to photograph themselves doing so, and to send the resulting pictures to be published on the site, alongside (at the last count) 4,566 others.

Who says the internet has no sense of social responsibility?

Sunday 23 March 2008

Sudden ruin

This five-minute film edits together silent footage of two tramcar journeys along San Francisco's Market Street, the first in 1905 (the year before the earthquake), the second in 1906:

Wiltshire's foremost visitor attraction

Roll up, roll up, to view the former home of Sir Edward Heath.

Two gentlemen in Missouri

Scholarly new editions of neglected works by Ann Radcliffe, Shelley, Conan Doyle and Forrest Reid…reprints of the rarest Gothic fiction, among them all the "horrid novels" read by Isabella Thorpe and Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey…a limited new hardback of Peter Middleton Darling's The Forest of Valancourt, a book so rare that only the Bodleian is known to possess a copy…a shot in the arm for the likes of Rider Haggard, Frederick Rolfe and Marie Corelli…and even a reissue of An Air That Kills (1948) by Francis King, who's happily still with us and still writing.

All in all, I like the sound of Valancourt Books.

Glimpses of greatness

Willie Lupin once met Harry
H Corbett
As we gazed out the window, the illuminated sign of his name suddenly switched off. "The fame doesn't last long, does it?" he said. I'd love to be able to record my witty reply, worthy of Dorothy Parker in her prime. But I think I just said "No, it doesn't" and took another slug of wine.

Saturday 22 March 2008


Sylvia Plath reads her own poem:

Wanna get kicked off a plane?

Here's how.

Preserved ephemera

Rummage among the magazine covers and commercial art of bygone days at the Ad Art Gallery.

Hat tip: Ben Locker.

Budge up

Welcome to The Nutshell, said to be England's smallest pub.

Friday 21 March 2008

Making sense of popular music

Christina Aguilera plus text and helpful graphics (4 mins):

Confidence is overrated

Usually it's in inverse proportion to talent, says Christina Patterson.

Useful advice

Paul Boateng - Britain's Obama?

Never say never

Forty years a don

What's improved, what's got worse? John Sutherland weighs it up in 2004.

From the gutter

It had to come: a blog about a puddle.

Friday 14 March 2008

Bodybuilding harms fish!

Ban it NOW:

Food of the Devil

Boris Johnson hates boiled eggs (5 mins):

Jagged visions

Paintings depicting the visual disturbances experienced by some migraine sufferers.

How much do people know about the Commonwealth?

Precious little if they're under twenty-five.


A Seattle bookseller describes the endless war against book thieves. Steerforth adds a British perspective.

Not just me then

34,000 of us still have black and white television licences.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Taking over from Hitler

Mitchell and Webb imagine being Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz (3 minutes):

Remembered together

A new monument to the Oxford martyrs - Catholic and Protestant - of the Reformation centuries.

What the (family) papers say

More light on whether army surgeon James Barry was really a woman.

Beer-pouring robot

Everybody needs him.

Are you sad enough?

This web page wants reviews of Webside Gleanings.

Monday 10 March 2008

Two voices from Cardiff

Cerys Matthews ruthlessly makes-over Ivor Novello's We'll Gather Lilacs:

Not yet faded

At the White House last week: Frank Woodruff Buckles, the last known surviving American-born veteran of World War One. He endured three years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp too. His Wikipedia entry is delightful.

All hail the Victorian Society

Fifty years fighting the wrecking ball.

The hills are corrupt

Watching The Sound of Music harms your soul.

Ten minutes with Hoagy Carmichael

…plus Jack Teagarden and his orchestra, singer Meredith Blake, and some standard racial stereotyping:

Sunday 9 March 2008

Non-incisive canines

In the wake of Cruft's, let's have some dogs who are obviously never, ever going to win - at anything.

From Master Dave to Dave The Master

Now an advisor to David Cameron, Frederick Forsyth wasn't always so keen.

Blackest sheep

John Amery, son of Churchill's India Secretary, broadcast Nazi propaganda from Berlin and was hanged after the war. Ronald Harwood unfolds the tale.

In the depths

Joan Crawford won an Oscar - but not for this:

Wednesday 5 March 2008

You're a genius

…according to the Blog Readability Test, which claims to have measured the level of education required to understand this blog and has awarded us the charming little gong on the right.

And I thought I was being accessible and user-friendly and all that…

From now on you’ll just have to regard Webside Gleanings as your indispensable mental workout, bulking up the frontal lobes, ripping that cortex, and enabling you to kick sand in Albert Einstein's face with impunity.

Go for it, tiger!

Infected Art

3D images of computer viruses. Plenty more here.

Can't see what they're getting at

Hat tip: Mr H

Hitler's loyal Indians

Curiouser and curiouser.

More than Robin Hood ever did

Alan Sillitoe, eighty this year, will receive the freedom of the city of Nottingham.

On the eve of war

Five years ago this month, the late Robin Cook gave, in Andrew Marr's words, "one of the most effective, brilliant, resignation speeches in modern British politics", presented here in two parts of six minutes each:

Sunday 2 March 2008

The British Richter Scale

You may just have tumbled into a freshly-opened yawning gulf, pursued by your chimney and half the street, but there's no call for that sort of language...

Unilateral independence

If it's legal for Kosovo, it can hardly be illegal for Scotland.

And if Berwick-upon-Tweed rejoins Scotland, we gain "1360 square miles of hydrocarbon rich seabed, when the oil price is making marginal and residual production increasingly attractive."

Where would we be without Craig Murray to point these things out?