Thursday, 22 January 2009

Enoch Soames: The Critical Heritage

The useless fin-de-siècle poet invented by Max Beerbohm is still making waves, 112 years after selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for an hour in the British Museum Reading Room in 1997. He hoped to find a century's worth of admiring criticism of his poems, but mysteriously there was none. Now, however…

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sounds of my childhood, #2

Petula Clark heads "Downtown" - assisted by dancers who seem to be channelling Peter Cook (2 minutes):

Unlikely convict

The painful tale of a naïve, eccentric children's author and illustrator who was tried for murder - and jailed.

Lost to us

Always been in two minds about Sir John Mortimer, but rather liked this two-minute BBC video and page of quotes.

Cage for plump, slow birds

Predating the First World War, this portable airship hangar has just been Grade-II listed.

Down with Thought For The Day

Damian Thompson declares war on a great national affliction.

The Bovril Heresy

Prepare for Holy War:

Cripple Creek Bar-Room, 1899

The very first Western saloon in the movies (1 minute):

Friday, 16 January 2009

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Wrist-slitting time

Dundee's apostrophe shortage starts to bite.

Bakgrownd hear.

Friday, 9 January 2009

?what doesn't he mean by iT

Latter-day surrealist George Brecht is dead.

?why would this be his manifestO

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

The last guest gone

An eight-minute clandestine tour of Edinburgh's rotting Barnton Hotel:

Pleasure in small things

Extremely short, but it appealed to me: a Minnesota mother and daughter spend a few hours as tourists in their own city.

Bleak indeed

Jenni Russell on modern bereavement.

Shaggy dog story

Apologies for yet more Boris, but his Wall Street Journal interview made me chuckle.

So true

Image shamelessly filched from Froogville, like several more to come...

A year in forty seconds

When you reach my age, this isn't trick photography, this is what it's actually like:

Never called me mother

Recently, for the first time, I read East Lynne, the 1861 bestseller by Mrs Henry Wood, who's now widely restyled "Ellen Wood". Enjoyed it enormously - yet it has hordes of detractors.

"Stock characters!" they cry, with a depressing lack of perception. "Implausible!" Scarcely more so than life. As for the ingenious view that the earnestly Christian Ellen Wood was "subverting Christianity" merely by describing truthfully the emotions of a (tormented) adulterer - come on, get a grip!

On the web and in my own small library I can find nothing about the book with which I agree, except some of the original reviews on the Ellen Wood website.

All I can say is, it's a rattling good read if taken seriously on its own terms, i.e. on the assumption that traditional Christian morality is valid absolutely and all human beings have immortal souls, accountable to God.

The stakes are high - far higher than critics who focus on class and gender can allow - and, partly as a result, East Lynne seems to me a bigger book than its reputation suggests.

Dewey-eyed doll

How can you resist the Librarian Action Figure?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Chomp, chomp

An escaped six-stone beaver is ravaging Cornwall.

(Scotland's next for the chomp, warns Magnus Linklater.)