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A lovely tale about the late Colin Davis, from Bryan Magee’s evocative coming-of-age memoir, “Growing Up In A War”. As pupils at Christ’s Hospital in the 1940s, Magee and Davis had to endure the sharp tongue of a smug, bullying headmaster.
Harry Connick Jr does his best to teach “American Idol” contestants how to sing standards. But were they listening?
What Campbell and his five men endured beggars belief, even in the steely annals of Antarctic hardship. They had been out from February 1911 until November 1913… In January 1912 they were picked up by the Terra Nova on her way from New Zealand and deposited further down the coast, but when exceptionally bad ice conditions prevented her from relieving them, they made their home in an ice cave on Inexpressible island (it was they who named it). The cave was nine feet by twelve, and five-feet-six high, which meant they could never stand upright. They spent much of their second winter lying in their bags talking about food. They had to ration themselves to one match a day to light the stove, and the practically all-meat diet meant that the acid content of their urine was exceptionally high, with the result that they wet themselves all the time and everyone had haemorrhoids. When Campbell had a touch of dysentery he got his penis frostbitten. “The road to hell might be paved with good intentions,” one of the party wrote, “but it seemed probable that hell itself would be paved something after the style of Inexpressible Island.” But they saved twenty-five raisins apiece to celebrate birthdays, and held divine service on Sundays. Finally, not having washed or changed their clothes for eight months, they sledged the 230 miles back to Cape Evans, still friends.
Meshell Ndegeocello’s Nina Simone-inspired residency at Ronnie Scott’s ends tonight. I hope she comes back soon. Here she is in Paris earlier this year, performing “Suzanne”. (Compare and contrast with Nina S’s take on the same song.)
Ah, the pathos of dying aristocracies. William Deresiewicz understands why Julian Fellowes’ period drama has been a hit, but he’s not sure that talk of a US version is all that wise:
I doubt that it will catch; Americans are much less interested in our own aristocracy, for the simple reason that we don’t like to acknowledge that we had one. But we did, and it also had its mournful decline, albeit somewhat later. I think of The New Yorker in the days of William Shawn, during the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, as the WASPs, in all their prep-school glory, were slowly buried by the multicultural horde—of writers like E. B. White and J. D. Salinger and George W. S. Trow, with their elegiac charm, their glamorous fatalism. So sad, so sad. But then the Jew in me rears up and makes me think, tough shit, you had your chance. The fact is that the threatened fall of Downton Abbey leaves me cold. Step aside, you lazy toffs. Time to give somebody else a turn.
Stephen Walt on how a city was closed down:
The economic cost has been enormous (by one estimate about $1 billion), and it sets a worrisome precedent if a 19 year old fugitive can paralyse an entire metropolitan region. We didn’t shut down DC when the snipers were operating there, and we didn’t shut down Los Angeles when a renegade and heavily armed police officer was a fugitive. This response also belies our insistence that we’re tough and we won’t be intimidated. On the contrary: we look skittish and scared.
His Foreign Policy neighbour, Dan Drezner, thought the disruption was worth it. But he raises another, more complex question too:
For a short period of time – less than a day – requesting people to stay in their homes to capture an identified violent terrorist doesn’t strike me as outrageous… The reason the capture of Tsarnaev felt so good is that it provided a sense of closure. In the span of four days, there was a bombing, an identification, a shoot-out that left one of the bombers dead and a capture of the other one. Game over. That’s feels like victory. Now, that’s obviously a simplification and an exaggeration… But still, Tsarnaev’s capture closed a chapter. That seems pretty rare to me in counter-terrorism. Maybe the thing about Americans is that, with the blessings of our geography, we want and expect policy closure on issues that defy the very idea of tidy endings…
The Petts, on the other hand, took the view – which I heard Bill formulate openly – that to tell somebody something is to exert a kind of dominance over him, while to be told something is to be subjected to the other person’s dominance. So they tried to avoid being told anything. The example Bill cited when he urged this course of action on me was: “You don’t want to just sit there saying nothing while he tells you all about the wonderful holiday he’s just had: you tell him about your holiday.” They applied this principle to me. As soon as I started telling them anything about what I was doing, Bill would interrupt and insist on telling me what they were doing. He was even given to telling me what people unknown to me were doing. “Oh, I know,” he would interrupt. “Our friends the So-and-so’s have a son at Highgate, which is just like Christ’s Hospital, and he…” So instead of sharing my life with them, which is what I was longing to do, I would find myself sitting there while they told me about the doings of some total stranger.