A single, half-muffled bell will toll as the funeral cortege draws up to St Paul's.
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Thursday 02 April 2009
If you're a secondary teacher, you're lucky if it's just one class and unlucky if it's two or more. These are the classes that utterly, miserably, wretchedly, exhaust you. End of term can't come soon enough. In fact, in your worst moments maybe you have been thinking that the end of the school year and a change of job can't come soon enough – maybe to the private sector, where you know such grimness just doesn't occur.
Tuesday 31 March 2009
Odd phrase "adult movies" – and one that's only been with us, according to the OED, since 1958, where the first citation comes from a New Musical Express small ad offering "unusual adult photo sets".
Friday 20 March 2009
Finding a trickle of water measuring just "12 inches across" in a field in rural Staffordshire, Tom Fort feels kinship with Speke at Lake Victoria. Travelling by foot, bicycle and sometimes punt, his easy-flowing narrative follows the River Trent until it mingles with the Ouse.
Friday 06 March 2009
Tuesday 24 February 2009
T S Eliot wrote that humankind cannot bear very much reality. It sometimes seems that we British cannot bear very much intelligence; at least if the gnashing of teeth that Gail Trimble has provoked through her virtuoso performances on University Challenge is anything to go by.
Saturday 31 January 2009
I feel bound to add to James Fergusson's scholarly obituary of Derek Stanford (9 January), since I had been acquainted with Derek since the early 1970s, when I joined his Poetry Writing Class at the City Lit in London, writes Julie Whitby. He didn't merely "subsist" in this capacity; as tributes from some of his ex-pupils avow, he was a brilliant lecturer, working by encouragement rather than overt criticism. James Berry (one-time winner of the National Poetry Competition) and dozens more benefited from his inspired instruction.
Friday 30 January 2009
Some books, like some pieces of music, works of art, conversations, people, change everything: once experienced, nothing is ever the same again. From many such before-and-after books I have chosen Four Quartets by T S Eliot (1943). I had read The Waste Land at school, but it wasn't until my first term at Cambridge that I discovered the Quartets in G David, a legendary second-hand bookstore. Pulling out an elegant Faber edition, I skimmed the first few lines of "Burnt Norton", felt the instant clamour in my head and heart and promptly threw down my paltry two quid. Rushing back to college, I gobbled up all four poems in one breathless, astonished sitting.
Saturday 24 January 2009
Can you believe that we're up to Now 71? Seems only yesterday that Woolies were selling Now 23. Ah, nostalgia. With the iPod, the idea of compilation has become universal; but we should pay tribute to the pioneers. Once upon a time, the idea of the compilation album was anathema to the true music fan.
Wednesday 14 January 2009
Thursday 18 September 2008
Friday 08 August 2008
Few writers – even those who present a carefully nurtured, self-deprecatory public image – have pursued so many careers, all involving ferociously committed hard graft, as Simon Gray. Successful as academic, novelist and dramatist for stage, television and radio, he found in several volumes as a later-life memoirist the ideal outlet for a rich seam of material, variously bilious, hilarious, irascible and on occasion deeply affecting, as he reflected on his life as an accident-prone, chain-smoking ex-alcoholic and, latterly, cancer-suffering writer.
Friday 01 August 2008
Ben Whishaw – who is soon to be seen as Sebastian in the film of Brideshead Revisited – is a striking theatrical performer and a haunting camera-subject. He gets to demonstrate that he's both in the latest, extraordinarily compelling, multi-media piece by the controversial, audience-polarising director Katie Mitchell.
Friday 04 July 2008
Thursday 03 July 2008
A portrait of the poet T S Eliot rejected by the Royal Academy in 1938 because it featured phallic references will be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery in a new exhibition.
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