‘A’ for Ian McEwan’s ‘Nutshell

  Well, Ian, what can I say? You’ve done it again – out smarted your clever class-mates and dazzled your teacher with a real tour-de-force. Your classmates chose a more predictable approach. Many wrote as Gertrude (the closet scene being a particular favourite). Some opted for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, despite my warning that this had … Read more

Loose Canon — The extraordinary songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin

  In his introduction to Ian Shircore’s brilliant survey of the songs of Clive James and Pete Atkin, Stephen Fry writes: ‘those of us who have hugged the secret of this wonderfully gifted pair to ourselves can’t help feeling rather special and discerning, and we don’t need anyone else to clutter up the premises of … Read more

1971 — The Greatest Year in Rock — Never A Dull Moment

Whoever said that writing about music was like dancing about architecture (and I still can’t work out who it actually was) clearly hadn’t read ‘1971’, a brilliant book which shows that when David Hepworth writes about music it’s like losing yourself on the dance floor to your favourite song or admiring a particularly beautiful building. Hepworth’s thesis … Read more

What I don’t get about Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’

‘Take the road less travelled’ is the stuff of a thousand graduation ceremonies and school assemblies, a neat poetic expression of the idea that sometimes we shouldn’t follow the path that others have trod but be brave enough to make the unconventional choice. The idea comes from Robert Frost’s famous  poem:    The Road Not … Read more

The Joy of Text

It’s come as a great relief to learn that a recent survey has revealed that 80% of those who use subtitles when watching TV are not deaf or hard of hearing. I am, it would seem, not alone, and it’s reassuring to know that my increasing subtitle-dependency does not mean that other writing is on … Read more