Heads up: Top comment and controversy

Best of the rest: Martin Amis’s ‘England’, Erdogan's Twitter ban, and a helluva weekend for Premier League football

 

By Simon O'Hagan, Editor of Independent Voices

What is this TV programme actually about, my Twitter timeline kept asking on Sunday night. No, people weren’t referring to Match of the Day 2, whose simple joys remain unalloyed. The programme that got people going was Martin Amis’s England on BBC4, and there’s a lot to enjoy in the reviews this morning. “It’s very hard to know which was worse – Martin Amis’s fiasco of clichés or director Mark Kidel’s lame montage of stereotypical images,” wrote Stuart Jeffries in the Guardian. The Daily Telegraph’s Christopher Howse was a bit kinder, welcoming “an hour given over to articulate essay on a real entity”: Meanwhile, on the excellent theartsdesk.com, Kidel himself explains how the programme came about (it was a French production) and what he was trying to achieve.

On our own site Ozan Ozavci is massively authoritative on the repressive tendencies of Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and in the Financial Times, Alev Scott warms to the theme with a piece in which he likens what’s happening with Erdogan’s doomed Twitter ban to “a grandfather taking on his grandson at a computer game – an inevitably pathetic battle”.

There’s another ban that is exercising people this morning – the ban on books from UK prisons introduced by the increasingly intemperate Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. There’s a really good piece about this on politics.co.uk by Frances Crook in which she says that, of various new rules that Grayling has introduced, “book banning is in some ways the most despicable and nastiest element”.

It was a helluva weekend of Premier League football, with some amazing goals, Arsene Wenger’s 1000-game humiliation, and, in that same Chelsea-Arsenal match, a bizarre case of mistaken identity when the referee sent off the wrong player for a handball. That incident has prompted one of the best pieces I’ve read arguing for the use of video technology to help referees avoid making such mistakes: “Some will argue that video technology undermines the referee’s authority,” writes Martin Samuel in the Daily Mail. “No it doesn’t. It stops him making a fool of himself.”

Monday means the latest edition of The New Yorker, and when Malcolm “Tipping Point” Gladwell has a piece in it, the sense of occasion is heightened further. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing but Gladwell’s latest dispatch - a re-examination of the Waco siege of 1993 and the perils of negotiating with ardent believers – looks like a must-read.

Five other things I like this morning:

A typically provocative Dominic Lawson in the Mail on how the top of the Labour party is just as privileged as the Tory leadership.

In the FT the always consoling Lucy Kellaway with a defence of wage-slave sycophants.

This piece, by Anne Fulwood in the Sydney Morning Herald, about the joys of Sydney’s public transport system (someone should do the same for London).

This New York Times obituary of actor James Rebhorn (he played Carrie Mathison’s father in Homeland), just for the quote at the end of it.

This properly important Vice piece on ‘the corporate PR industry’s sneaky war on internet activism’.

@SimonOHagan

React Now

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Ancient Labour rivalries – Bevan versus Morrison

John Rentoul
Labour leadership hopefuls, from left, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Jeremy Corbyn on the BBC  

If you’re thinking of voting for Jeremy Corbyn, here are my promises to you

Andy Burnham
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935