Raymond Kirkpatrick Goes Online


Raymond Kirkpatrick is a colleague of Arthur Bryant’s. The bear-like heavy metal-loving Professor of English is currently working at the British Library and is our occasional guest speaker. His opinions are very, very much his own. I work in a library so obviously I prefer books, but last week John May, in his desperate attempts […]

The Friday Song

STEEL MAGNOLIAS, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah, Dolly Parton, 1989

With the news being so depressing yesterday it wasn’t time for the Friday Song, so here it is today, celebrating the bad girls of the movies. Footnote: In a weird comment on America’s complex issues with race, the film ‘Steel Magnolias’, which features here, was remade in 2012 with an all-black cast.

Sir Dirk on Book and Film

bogarde2 the singer not the song

For a long time he was the quintessential British film star, but it’s likely a sizeable portion of the population has now never seen a Dirk Bogarde film. Or Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, to give him his full name. His heyday as an actor ended over four decades ago, and in later […]

Who Are The Enemies Of The People?


The nation’s media is in trouble again. It started with a small story. In the Sunday Times, critic Camilla Long horrified many with her condescending review of Ken Loach’s well-meaning polemic ‘I, Daniel Blake’. In doing so, she revealed the widening gap between the press and the public. Last year Kate Winslet and Judy Davis […]

Are Pretty People More Successful?

Made of rubber

How we see an author on a book jacket is how we tend to remember them. We view Agatha Christie as what they used to call a ‘maiden aunt’, more Miss Marple than the tall, glamorous young woman who travelled the world and was probably the first English writer ever to go surfing in Hawaii. […]

‘Every Joke Is A Tiny Revolution’ – Orwell


Further to my recent article on satirical magazines, a piece by Zoe Williams in The Guardian yesterday prompts this thought, viz. you cannot be satirical now and get away with it. It’s a complicated tale, going back over 30 years. The CIA destabilised nations by putting in new leaders, and to cut a long (and […]



It means we live in a time when anything can happen at any given moment, and what’s more we’re so used to it that we cope by turning away from the world’s issues, knowing we can do nothing about them, and look inward instead to body and mind. It’s also the title of Adam Curtis’s […]

Ink Is Ammunition!


Humour magazines once proliferated throughout the western world, from Le Canard Enchaine to Punch, Lilliput and Spy, they scored points with erudition, wit and yes, cruelty. There has pretty much always been a ‘journal bête et méchant‘ in France, and the same in the UK. I’ve written before about America’s National Lampoon, which had grown out […]

Storage: The New Moneyspinner

Overloaded Shelf_JPG

Remember the shelf? Wooden thing, long and flat, held all your records, then your videos, then your DVDs and CDs. Streaming made the shelf redundant. But unless you live in the country with freshly installed Broadband your speed may be too slow to watch a movie. That’s why internet speeds are faster in Latvia and […]

Stepping Into Dreams


What’s it like to be on a film set? Disappointing, mostly. Today’s sets are largely green-screened so that CGI can be added, but occasionally sets are built or locations are dressed. Today I was in Gerona, where a great many films have been shot – so many in fact that a museum is hosting an […]