Filed under fiction

A Murder Ballad

Old Oak has some great stories in it, and it is easy to imagine the appeal of ghost stories and murder ballads told round fires in mid winter: “Sir Walter Scott once declared that nothing was more dramatically effective than an old murder ballad. With anyone like all to recite it, I can well believe … Continue reading

Workers and Reading

Lady Bell devotes a whole chapter of her At the Works to the subject of literacy, suggesting that the spread of literacy does not necessarily lead to the enjoyment of literature. At the time of the French Revolution, there was a great fear in Britain of the poor learning to read, but especially to write, … Continue reading

Gollum and Turkish Law

This is from yesterday’s i newspaper, and would be funny if it wasn’t true: “He is shrivelled, slimy and will stop at nothing to lay his hands on a golden ring. But is Gollum a villain? The fate of a Turkish doctor hangs on the answer to that seemingly trivial question. Having shared a Facebook … Continue reading

Living Muses of Great Britain

Living Muses of Great Britain

Women have on the whole had a tough time throughout history, but in England in the mid to late 18th century, as the period between the two world wars, the shortage of men allowed women with talent to emerge into the public spotlight, albeit in socially acceptable fields. This engraving by Richard Samuel published in … Continue reading

God Help the Girl

This is the directorial debut of indy band Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch. It starts with quirky but cool Eve escaping from a psychiatric hospital, to burst into song through the streets of Glasgow, where she meets several budding musicians, they form a band and though not a lot really happens, but it happens well. … Continue reading

A Village Without Time

This is from the introduction to Primo Levi’s ‘If Not Now, When?’ “In my village there weren’t many clocks. One on the church steeple, but it had stopped years and years ago, maybe during the revolution. I never saw it working, and my father said he hadn’t either. Not even the bell ringer had a … Continue reading

Germans and the War

Britain and the States  have been making movies about the Second World War for decades; they were used for propaganda and morale boosting, and bookshops still have shelves groaning beneath the books still in print. The Germans themselves have been wary of this, but when they do it, they do it well. Heimat is a … Continue reading

Monkey Grip by Helen Garner

This is the book I chose to write about in my MA degree as the book that changed my life. At the time it felt like I just pulled it out of the air, but it is one of the few books that I keep returning to and seeing something more in it, more layers, … Continue reading