Posted in May 2014

Soldiers and War

I get a bit tired of TED talks – they are getting a bit same old same old but here’s one that is really important – writer and war correspondent Sebastian Junger, he who survived Rostrepo in Afganistan, on why soldiers miss war. As he says, nobody in their right mind would want to be … Continue reading

American Interior

This is the second film by Welsh singer Gruff Rhys ex of Super Furry Animals, and like his earlier, Separado, is part tour, part historical investigation, and is also very strange. He begins in Boston, in search of an ancestor John Evans who went to North America in search of a Welsh speaking tribe of … Continue reading

1000 Years of Popular Music

This is a dvd & 2 Cd set by English guitarist/songwriter/ folkie Richard Thompson, with Judith Owen on vocals & keyboards and Debra Dobkin on percussion and vocals. It was inspired by Playboy magazine asking Thompson to provide a list of the 10 greatest songs of the millennium. As the ever iconoclastic Thompson writes : … Continue reading

Not In ‘Deliverance’

In a recent interview on NPR Jack White mentioned he had some hunting records. Now, I thought he meant hunting songs, or something similar, but he was referring to records of birds -and animals? – that were used to attract them to hunters. He specifically mentioned a record of the sounds of injured crows that … Continue reading

The Bravery of a So-Called Coward

With the centenary of the start of the Great War, and the commemoration of the heroism of the fighters, it is also a time to commemorate another brave group: the conscientious objectors, often inspired by their religious faith, obeying the words of the bible, even prepared to die for their beliefs when the rest of … Continue reading

Students Writing Home

Before the modern postal systems, letters from the minority of people who could write were sent via merchants or friends, or by special royal or religious courier service; some larger universities had their own courier systems. But the content has not changed much. Students told their parents of how they were working hard, but also … Continue reading

Dawn of The Press

I have just started reading The Invention of News – How the World Came to Know About Itself, by Andrew Pettegree. This is a wonderfully written and deeply researched book, documenting our passion for gossip up to the global press. I had always assumed that people wanted newspapers when they were invented, but of course, … Continue reading

Offensive Aramaic

Last Sunday, Cerys Matthews on her 6 music broadcast, was talking of a musician whose work she was a big fan of and wanted to play it on the show. But she was told that it contained offensive material, though what this was she did not know. I can understand how the BBC does not … Continue reading

The Dawn of the Great War

As we commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of world war I, it is worth  considering what the world was like before then, a very different place to that after. One of the first East European novels I read was novel prize winning Ivo Andric’s The Bridge over the Drina, widely assumed to have been … Continue reading