Monthly Archives: March 2013

The way we lived then… & now

In The New Yorker, George Packer — worried about ever-diminishing attention spans — is relieved to find he’s got the stamina to tackle Trollope’s monumental novel about the power of money. I first read the chronicle of the rise and … Continue reading

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Notebook

If I die now, and my heart is rotten enough for that, I’ll get a fine wake. Everyone here knows me, greets me in the street and at home, expresses pleasure at our return. What percentage of that is warmth … Continue reading

Posted in History, Notebook

Farewell, Bebo

RIP, Bebo Valdés, one of the great exponents of Afro-Cuban piano (and father of the equally influential Chucho Valdés.) Billboard has a good obituary, but his music is the best memorial of them all.

Posted in Music

Orson Welles, urban transport pioneer

The Daily Beast reports that wealthy Russians are using ambulances to avoid the ever-worsening traffic jams in Moscow. Maybe they don’t know it, but they’re following in the footsteps of the great showman, who used the same trick back in the … Continue reading

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When The Beatles played to 18 people in Aldershot

Seems their agent wasn’t very good at advertising… A delicious set of 1961 snapshots from Retronaut.

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Boris Johnson, striver

“There’s always been the perception of him being very privileged, like being on a scholarship at Eton, but it was surprising to me how hard he’s had to fight that to get where he is today.”  TV interviewer Tania Bryer, attempting … Continue reading

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Blue skies for another grey winter’s day

For all those of us who desperately need some sunshine… Sugar Loaf Mountain, last May.

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Is “The Book of Mormon” racist?

I haven’t seen Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s musical yet, but Libby Purves’ Times review [£] raises some interesting questions. “Pretty racist” is her verdict on the Darkest Africa setting: Stone and Parker do not even have the courtesy to invent … Continue reading

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An American heads to Europe

Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is on his way to the Old World for the very first time. (He almost didn’t make it after suddenly falling ill.) I’m looking forward to seeing what he thinks of it all.

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Notebook

Do you think it’s possible to listen to (or perform) the century- or two centuries-old symphonic warhorses of Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky as if “for the very first time” — like a virgin, so to speak? I had that experience … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Notebook