Tom Hodgkinson is a writer and the editor of The Idler.
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".
12 February 2012 12:00 AM
What is love? As this week's cover story makes clear, these days it can take many forms. But as Valentine's Day approaches, I too have been reflecting on the meaning of the word. Help has come from the author Roman Krznaric in his new book The Wonderbox, a sort of self-help manual that uses historical precedent to shine an old light on new problems, from love to work. I've also been reading The Art of Loving (1956) by the radical psychologist Erich Fromm, another great guide for the confused in love.
27 November 2011 12:00 AM
For many years, when packing a book for a mail-order customer, I would proudly put a bookmark printed with the legend "Read: Don't Twitter" into the envelope. As well as loathing the execrable Facebook, I had in mind that I also hated Twitter, for the simple reason that it presented a distraction from the real business of living, which is intellectual reflection and debate.
15 July 1997 12:02 AM
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
How climate change helped Genghis Khan: Scientists believe a sudden period of warmer weather allowed the Mongols to invade with such success
- 1 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 2 Arrest made after man is found by the side of the road with his penis cut off
- 3 Michael Schumacher 'experience' gives F1 legend chance to 'show his character', says Lewis Hamilton
- 4 Girl found in the Amazon rainforest with neighbour Grover Morales after going missing for 7 months
- 5 Disney's Frozen is 'very evil' gay propaganda, says Christian pastor