Blog Archives

Lipstick on Your Collar: My Fascination for the Nineteen-Fifties

  There are, I find, many advantages to being born relatively late for your generation. Your parents know pretty much what they are about; they grow old when you still have a strong arm with which to support them; and,

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Posted in Films, Reflections

Whistlejacket Forever

In my home hangs a two-thirds life-size reproduction of George Stubb’s almost life-size portrait of the second Marquess of Rockingham’s favourite race- and stud-horse, Whistlejacket. Painted in 1762, it resonates with every artistic and intellectual movement going from its own time onwards, and induces a meditation on life – horse life – and art.

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Posted in Reflections

Moscow: History of a Symbol

Invited by the students of New College of the Humanities to contribute to an edition of their newspaper with the theme ‘Metropolis’, I considered the kind of symbol that Moscow has been over the centuries, and whether it is one now.

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Posted in Reflections

Uncustomisable Orthodoxy

I attend an Orthodox funeral and reflect on the appeal of Orthodoxy’s uncustomisability…

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Corfus of the Mind

The recent ITV series ‘The Durrells’ has prompted some reflections on Gerald Durrell’s Corfu trilogy, on Lawrence Durrell’s and Theodore Stephanides’ own memoirs of Corfu of the 1930s, and on the exclusions that they make in their memoirs of that happy time and place.

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Posted in Films, Reflections

Of Man and Dogs

John Bradshaw’s ‘In Defence of Dogs’ has inspired a few thoughts on the good ways in which humans resemble dogs..

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Posted in Books, Reflections

Some Things That Are True of My Dad

My saintly Dad has a few quirks in spite of his saintliness. It has come over me to share them.

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On Being at Home on Easter Morning

This morning I felt unsettled at being at home on Easter morning. So I wrote this blog, recalling the intensity of Easters past, and how strange is the waxing and waning of the great stories in our lives. Happy Easter!

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Two Ways of Seeing Things

There are two ways of looking at things: tragically and comedically. Tolstoy recommends tragedy. But when it comes to personal troubles, there’s everything to be said for comedy.

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Opportunity Missed at Tottenham Court Road Station; Capitalist Sublime at Centre Point

The newly-reopened Tottenham Court Road Station is a crushing disappointment. But the sinister Centre Point which soars above it still inspires me.

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Posted in Reflections

Ten Things that I have Learned about Dog-Owning – and Listicles

A yearling dog-owner, I decide to write a numbered list – of the kind that I adore to read – of that things that I have learned that no listicle had ever alerted me to.

Posted in Reflections

Cambridge Revisited

I do something that I try to avoid doing, and revisit my old university. Nostalgia-averse, the day turns out better than I’d expected, and much better than a similar visit was for Nabokov in 1937.

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Posted in Reflections

Whataboutism in the Gulag

A few weeks ago I visited one of the only Gulag memorial sites – Perm-36 in the Urals. In the company of my English friends, I tried to work out what I – and we – were doing there.

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Broadside Against Ageism

I try to argue why contempt for age, not age, is the real enemy of life…

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The Saracen’s Head at Southwell

I recently visited Southwell and thought, not just of its Civil War past, but of D.H. Lawrence’s characters, for whom Southwell represented, variously, the past and the future.

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Posted in Events, Reflections

On Friendship

On the occasion of a friend’s namesday, I meditate on friendship.

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Helen Bamber

Helen Bamber, founder of the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture, died 21st August 2014. I recollect the one time I heard her speak.

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Deconstructing Russophobia

This post is the text of a talk which I gave at the 6/20 discussion society today in London, and which I hope to develop and publish elsewhere.

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