Tom Hodgkinson is a writer and the editor of The Idler.
01 July 2012 12:00 AM
Twitter is a terrible distraction for writers and journalists. The deadline is hanging over you and all you can do is waste time scrolling through hundreds of unsatisfying attempts at aphoristic wit.
17 June 2012 12:00 AM
Everyone loves a bonfire and now is the time to build one. In olde England, midsummer fires were traditionally held on the eve of the Feast of St John the Baptist on 24 June. These were occasions for music and dancing. One Elizabethan ballad testifies: "When midsomer comes, with bavens and bromes, they do bonfires make /And swiftly then, the nimble young men runne leapinge over the same / The women and maydens together do couple their handes / With bagpipes sounde, they daunce a rounde; no malice among them standes."
03 June 2012 12:00 AM
Unlike in 1977, when the Sex Pistols' "God Save the Queen" reached number two in the charts, there seem to be few republican voices prepared to stand out today. And however much you might like to resist it, everyone has gone crazy for bunting. It's everywhere (not least on the pages of the magazine you're holding in your hands).
20 May 2012 12:00 AM
Do we need poetry? Last week, appearing on a Radio 4 programme, I praised the poets for making our lives bearable with their words, for adding meaning to our world. Another of the guests, a hard-working businessman wearing a gold watch, attacked me for promoting poetry, and therefore idleness: "People need food!" he raved. "You can't eat poetry!"
20 May 2012 12:00 AM
It's thejourney that matters
06 May 2012 12:00 AM
When it comes to pop, my tastes are simple. I like The Beatles. The Beatles to me are like the Socrates or the Shakespeare of pop music. All subsequent groups have been more or less attempts to recreate or recapture what the Beatles did, in terms of excitement, freedom and money-making, but most have captured only one small fraction of their energy and creative range. Some have done bits very well, but none has ever done the whole thing. The Beatles were the beginning and the end of pop music.
22 April 2012 12:00 AM
While our image of Notting Hill today may be of a wealthy person's retreat, the area had a more bohemian and radical reputation when I was growing up. A combination of West Indian culture and a punky vibe made it irresistibly glamorous and edgy to me and my friends. It was the land of sound systems, skateboarders, the Clash, the Westway, the Mutoid Waste Company, the carnival and head shops on Portobello Road. It was home to Rough Trade (where I worked for a year when I was 21), Whole Earth foods, second-hand clothes shops and stalls on Portobello Green run by artists. It was the Notting Hill of Jimi Hendrix and of John Michell, the celebrated late cosmologist and author. I suppose it represented creative freedom.
08 April 2012 12:00 AM
Last week I found myself at a literary festival in Cologne, talking about gardening to 250 Germans. Sharing the stage with me was a writer called Jakob Augstein. He has created a garden which is also a political statement against utilitarianism. You'll be familiar with that dry, arid philosophy, promoted by Jeremy Bentham and enthusiastically taken up this century by Labour politicians. It says that human action must be judged by how useful it is. It's an approach to things that seems to make some sense at first. Build roads, not churches! But human life is more complicated than that. We need beauty, meaning, joy and pain as well as mere efficiency.
25 March 2012 12:00 AM
Until two years ago I served on the committee of our local free pop festival in north Devon. Each year we would invite a bunch of bands down and throw a really fantastic party on the seafront in Lynmouth, Exmoor. This is a lovely setting for bands, with the cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. In the evening, the festival would move to the various pubs in the area and merry-making would ensue.
11 March 2012 12:00 AM
March is with us and a countryman's thoughts turn to his vegetable patch. There is a lovely old medieval poem which assigns a certain outdoor task to each month, and the line for March is: "Here I sette my thynge to sprynge," which means, "Now I sow my seeds." For the full jaunty early-English effect, by the way, make sure you pronounce the final "e" in "sette", "thynge" and "sprynge".
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Italian court annuls prison sentence for elderly paedophile after 11-year-old victim tells investigators in Catanzaro that she loves him
- 3 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white