Posted in March 2014

Songs About Doctors

Doctors are a small elite breed, and few form bands – they are too busy mostly, but they are also very rarely mentioned in song. I love this one, because it is so well sung but also pure nonsense. What on earth is going on? The doctor is giving really dumb advice, but the patient is … Continue reading

Protestants and Rome

18th century in England was emerging from the chaos of the Civil War and reformation, so people looked to the classics for ideas on democracy and nation building, which became the basis for empire building. Many rich young men did the Grand Tour as part of their education, and I had always assumed they absorbed … Continue reading

English Gothic

It seems to be often the case that the best research is often done by people not involved in a subject. As far as I know, the world centre for Islamic Art is still Edinburgh, and the best travel writing is rarely done by people who travel for a living, and it is rare to … Continue reading

The 1832, or Great, Reform Act

This is a piece of legislation widely hailed as the start of modern democracy in Britain, and it was an incredibly long and hard fought battle to get it onto the statute books. It was in part inspired by the fact that Britain’s population had changed over the centuries since the electoral districts had been … Continue reading

Slow Planes

Recent events notwithstanding, airline safety has improved so much over recent decades, that it is now by far the safest means of travel, and controlled by incredibly tight regulation. I once met a stewardess who worked short haul flights in Australia, who told me that when they had a load of football players on their … Continue reading

Music or War

Following on from the recent death of MP Tony Benn, here’s a great anecdote via the I newspaper’s arts journalist, David Lister who spoke with him several weeks ago: ’I mentioned to him that I thought that the former Prime Minister Harold Wilson had received insufficient credit, almost no credit, for keeping Britain out of … Continue reading

Tending Sheep

I heard this last night on the radio, and love it. By the Furrow Collective, in any other genre this would be a supergroup, but I the world of folk, people are constantly forming groups for short or long terms. It’s a very sweet song, about rejecting the big scary world. A sentiment we can … Continue reading

History Lesson

This is to commemorate the leftist politician and campaigner, Tony Benn- born Sir Anthony Wedgewood Benn, who recently died. He has been described as a controversial figure, but any original thinker fits that. He renounced his peerage to campaign to improve the lot of working people. Which is a pretty extraordinary thing. His children are … Continue reading

Deadwood Discussed

I missed Deadwood when it came out, but was utterly blown away by it when I got it out a while back on DVD. Such extraordinary writing, acting, design – the works. I kept thinking of it as Shakespearean, but in this essay it is described as Roman, which nails it also, they were all … Continue reading