Monthly Archives: November 2015


The football stadium is one of the few really large constructions that turns its wrong side out. The oval bowl excludes the world, reserves its mysteries for initiates. The TV cannot violate it, cannot even begin to catch it. It’s … Continue reading

Posted in Literature, Sport | Tagged , , ,

Allen Toussaint RIP

He wrote and produced no end of classics, but whenever he came over to play a concert he always seemed mildly surprised that audiences were keen to turn out to hear him. In an age of rampant egos, he was … Continue reading

Posted in Music, Uncategorized | Tagged


Publishers like books on race to be controversial. Who cares about complexities?  “Truth is, some white people drink Hennessey. Some black people jog.”

Posted in Race, US politics | Tagged , , , ,

Remembrance Day

‘The Last Muster: Sunday at the Royal Hospital, Chelsea” by  Sir Hubert von Herkomer.  Lady Lever Art Gallery, Wirral [HT: @DrLivGibbs]

Posted in Art, History | Tagged ,


Stanley was handed an extra bandolier of fifty rounds, but it was the anticipation of hand-to-hand fighting that filled him with apprehension…  “I felt a kind of disagreeable gloominess and taciturnness settle on my spirits as the night wore on. … Continue reading

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The last word on Mr S?

In today’s Times, my review [£] of James Kaplan’s epic, no-stone-left-unturned biography: Can you imagine Frank Sinatra as an ambassador? The idea seems laughable, yet in 1958 that doyen of American columnists, Walter Winchell, floated the idea that JFK, then … Continue reading

Posted in Film, Music | Tagged , , , ,

Pro tip

“You can’t write about people unless you know what’s on their mantlepiece.” Journalist and mental health campaigner Marjorie Wallace on today’s Desert Island Discs.

Posted in Journalism, Literature, Media | Tagged ,


I’m glad Paolo Conte made room for this at his Barbican show. My review is here [£].  The video, though, is something else again.

Posted in Uncategorized


In 1861, the year the Kingdom of Italy was born, it has been calculated that one Italian in 40 (2.5 per cent of the population of the peninsula) spoke Italian: just over 630,000 people — mainly Tuscans speaking what was … Continue reading

Posted in History, Literature | Tagged , , , ,

In concert

Esperanza Spalding’s geeky alter-ego, Emily, makes a disappointing Shepherds Bush debut. Defying the decades, Charles Aznavour holds an audience transfixed at the Albert Hall. [£]

Posted in Music | Tagged , ,