Blog Archives

‘And What Did You Do in the War, Vati?’ My German Family’s Second World War

Having parents who lived through the war as children on opposing sides – and uncles on each side who fought – I reflect on the German half of my family’s experiences: the grandfather who fought on the Eastern front, the grandmother who negotiated depression at home, and the aunt and uncle who tried to stop the Americans advancing.

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Posted in Reflections

The Death of Stalin

I was intrigued to see this succès de scandale. It had been called ‘revolting’ by the Russian Communist Party, and ‘disgraceful’ by Peter Hitchens. According to some it reflected on Putin, whilst according to David Cameron it reflected on Theresa May. It was praised as Iannucci’s deepest work, and condemned as a grosss lapse from form. It has not yet received a Russian license, and it grossed twice in its opening weekend what In the Loop did in 2009. I went fully prepared to hate it and walk out.

In the event, I stayed in my Everyman armchair to the credits’ end, so may now toss my own ha’pennyworth into the furor.

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Posted in Films

A Journey through China and Malaysia

My summer holiday this year was a week in Shanghai (and Suzhou and Nanjing) followed by a week in Kuala Lumpur (and Melaka and Kuching, Borneo). I was dazzled and occasionally culture-shocked and for the first time began to understand the Second World War in the East.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Where Anti-Trumpism is Getting it Wrong; or, My Enemy’s Enemy is Not Above Reproach; or, Ends Do Not Justify Means

  It is with some trepidation that I blog for the first time about Donald Trump.   It is partly because I feel such trepidation that I feel the need to do so.   Donald Trump is a gifted demagogue,

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Posted in Politics

What is Good Sex Writing?

Jonathan Coe’s 1994 masterpiece ‘What a Carve Up!’ shows how to do sex writing – and why it is difficult.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Vasilii Perov and other Household Names we’ve never heard of

The National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition ‘Russia and the Arts: The Age of Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky’ makes me wonder why the West knows Russia’s writers and composers of this period – but not its painters.

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Posted in Exhibitions

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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Posted in Reflections