Mind & body.

I am interested in the idea and practice of spirituality: but it may all be nonsense, and I may be venially corporeal. This category is a bit of a catch-all for posts on subjects ranging from the intellectual (I should be so lucky), to the spiritual (likewise) via the psychological and the creative.

Page 8

John Craxton, Stanley Spencer and the Levant

The John Craxton show at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is very lovely, and much more so than I dared expect. This is Ne0-romanticism, or the English Romantic, at its giddy, evocative best. (It is very decently reviewed by Robin Blake in the FT.) It jived surprisingly with the London visit of Stanley Spencer paintings from the Sandham Memorial Chapel. (These are well-reviewed by Adrian Hamilton in the Independent.) Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

Chinese and Japanese art: masters for the West

It was off to the V&A Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 - 1900 (ends 19 January 2014)  and to the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge for The night of longing: Love and desire in Japanese prints (12 January, 2014). Yes, I was stupid enough to miss the Japanese Shunga show in the British Museum's Rooms 90/91, the very place which set me off on this quest... Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

RDN on sceptics & AGW at the RAC

I have been asked to debate the proposition that sceptics are winning the climate change argument (at the RAC in Pall Mall, 28 November 2013). The answer, I think, is a nice sceptical, "yes", and "no". Read more...

Published

27 November 2013

If I were an illustrators’ patron ….

I have been thinking about why I have found most comics, graphic novels and animated films kind of not what I was after, and what I would love to see - but could only summon-forth from the mind and hand of someone else... Read more...

Published

24 November 2013

Selsey: The jewel of Manhood

[This updates in June 2017 a piece which first appeared in late 2013.] All my life, like my father and grandmother before me I have known and loved Selsey, in West Sussex. It is the town at the tip of the Manhood peninsula south of Chichester, and famous for the Bill (its beak pointed at the sea). It has for years had Bunn's, Europe's biggest caravan park and now - abutting that - there is a brand new instant wetland, also Europe's largest of the kind. It is, in fact, a-buzz with change and far livelier than previously. Recently, I have taken to day-dreaming about Selsey's future. Read more...

Published

24 November 2013

Parris’ “Conservative Futurism” developed a little….

Matthew Parris is spot-on in his "Futurist Conservatism" piece ("Dig deep, sow seeds and watch Britain grow: The UK needs HS3 as well as HS2. We need two new cities and more technical colleges. We need long-term vision.", The Times, 9 November 2013) Libertarians will roll their eyes, as will Luddite Conservatives: the idea of optimistic, forward-planning conservativism is an oxymoron. So be it. Conservatives like planting trees in their broad acres, why not new towns in yours or mine too? Read more...

Published

10 November 2013

“Le Weekend”: a ho-hum *** movie

I wanted to love Le Weekend. It had been discussed as not being a feel-good rom-com or Gerry-romp (even one as good as The Exotic Marigold Hotel, let alone as bad as Quartet), and wasn't. It seemed likely to not make its middle-aged actresses shriek (as in Mama Mia and It's Complicated), and it didn't. But it was dangerously adolescent anyway.... Read more...

Published

31 October 2013

English adventure novelists as literature

I am a fan of a certain sort of popular fiction: the English adventure story of the 1940s and 1950s. I take this type to include Nevile Shute, Hammond Innes, Nicholas Monserrat, Geoffrey Household and - a recent discovery for me - Nigel Balchin. All these writers seem to me far more richly satisfying than is commonly supposed. It is the last-mentioned who prompted the best bit of literary criticism attaching to this genre, by that master of popular culture, Clive James. Read more...

Published

25 October 2013

“Blue Jasmine” & others on the verge of breakdown

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is a stronger film than most reviewers seem to allow. Indeed, it bears comparison with Girl Most Likely, of which more in a moment. Blue Jasmine has been criticised as being too Woody and not Woody enough. I'd say it is nicely not Woody-self-obsessed, or Woody-neurotic, or Woody-Jewish: it doesn't channel Woody. But it is a convincing and frightening account of a woman's decline, and might have been made by plenty of good directors, or written by plenty of good novelists. It is a particularly American theme, I think. Read more...

Published

25 October 2013
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