Read through my latest blog posts and feel free to comment on them if you like.



Latest Posts

The Lady Eve

Posted on 26th December, 2023

Preston Sturges's reputation has grown again in recent years, perhaps decades, but one might say that to watch The Lady Eve (1941) is to do so with what become mixed feelings.


Here is something not cohesive enough to become true screwball, and there is a succession of pratfalls out of kilter with slapstick. An upside is that, for all that Barbara Stanwtck and Henry Fonda are not at home here, they are buttressed by a cast which is given much to do - something so ofren lacking in today's star-ficussed movies

The End of an Era

Posted on 9th June, 2023

After the concert mentioned in the previous blog entry today, we repaired to the nearby Colonnade bar beneath the Theatre Royal. More theatrical than many a production on stage, this bar - as posters and actors' photographers testify -, pleasingly decorated in shades of deep red and gilt, is the quintessence of town which relished the many out-of-town try-outs in the days when the theatre was not dominated by jukebox musicals and incarnations of films.


And now the Ambassadors chain, which owns the Theatre, is closing down the pub on Thursday and taking hold of it, perhaps knocking it through to form part of the ground-floor lobby.


Another retreat is set to be lost, one which is as convivial on a quiet afternoon as it is during an evening throng.


Among those to lament this were a couple who had been at the concert, who also said that there is nothing like these concerts and pub in Tasmania. Residents are set to lose something as precious in its way as a public library, and I wrote in the Visitors' Book set out for farewell remarks: "Ambassadors are Traitors".

Lunchtime Diversions

Posted on 9th June, 2023

A joy of life in Hove and Brighton is that, most days of the week, there is a lunchtime concert. Word has spread about these, there is a regular audience for familiar items - and many surprises.


Yesterday saw the return of Luca Luciano to All Saints' on The Drive in Hove, where, as a noted clarinetist he performed as a duo with pianist Yuki Osedo while sunlight burnished the magnifcent light-stone interior now over a century old. Arrangements of Schumann were followed by works of his own, some inspired by twentieth-century composers, and a high point was an arrangement of John Coltrane's affecting "Naima". He has a new disc, mostly solo clarinet, and very diverting its half hour proved  to be as the day turned later into a cooler evening.


And today, at the blaze of noon, the scene changed to New Road in Brighton where, at the Unitarian chirch, a less ornate but equally pleasing establishment, there was as good an audience for the Brighton Chamber Ensemble some of whom also perform as the Keleth Trio. And here were three revelations: local composer John Hawkins's Blakean piece Urizen for viola and piano was followed by Shostakovich's first piano trio. His second, wartime trio is a masterpiece, but there is great charm to its youthful predecessor. Also written at seventeen was the first movement of a quartet by Mahler. Its opening notes, one might reasoably fancy, bring to mind the pensive opening of the Adagio from his Fifth symphony.


Posted on 7th June, 2023

At a shared office I saw somebody using a white board, which appeared to be references to King Lear - and indeed this was, not as part of any management system, which is the main use of white boards, but an A-Level student who was writing upon it lines from the play to fix them in her mind for tomorow's exam.


I remarked upon seeing a production with sheep in at a Jevington farm a decade ago, and that Cordelia has a great line early on which I cited in a Council speech - I forget the exact occasion - as the perfect definition of spin: "If for I want that glib and oily art / To speak and purpose not"

Of Titles

Posted on 6th June, 2023

There is some sedulity shown in spelling Mission: Impossible like that but all too often commas slide from view.


Let us hear it for: To Sir, With Love; From Russia, With Love; Suddenly, Last Summer.

The Stop Button

Posted on 6th June, 2023

Four evenings running, films have proved disappointing to the point of not continuing with them: Another Shore; The King of Marvin Gardens; Peyton Place; Saturday, Sunday, Monday (the latter a filmed play by Eduardo De Filippo.




Posted on 5th June, 2023

Mention the name James Callaghan and those who do remember him are likely to mention his being mistakenly credited uttering the immortal "Crisis? What Crisis?"


How many know that he is likely to have invented the term zebra crossing?


Today I found that when visiting a road-research laboratory after the war, he had seen a model of these painted pathways across a highway and said, "it looks like a zebra": the phrase stuck.


Which reminds me that the orange, flashing bulbs at the roadside were called Belisha Beacons, so named in honour of another politician - a Mr. Belisha who, I think, was elevated to Lords, though whether in honour of services to the roadside I cannot say off the top of my head (or opening another window on this Mac).


Posted on 5th June, 2023

Aldous Huxley was in the habit of reading Emcyclopaedia Brittanica from cover to cover, which prompted Bertrand Russell to remark that one could always tell which volume he was on by his conversation.


Polymaths can be derided but surely we all were once.


That is to say, at school the subject would change - sometimes startlingly so - every forty minutes, and one regarded this as normal. Why not regain the spirit of youth by doing so throughout life?

Artificial Intelligence

Posted on 5th June, 2023

There have been so many similar articles about this lately that one might wonder how many of them were written by human beings.


None that I have seen, however, mentions the terrific film Dinner at Eight from nine decades ago.


When Jean Harlow says, "A nutty kind of a book. Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?" Marie Dressler looks her over and replies,  "Oh, my dear, that's something you need never worry about."

Shades of Yellow

Posted on 25th May, 2023

I have been browsing in le Carré's Letters, published last year. He remarks to an agent and publisher about the lamentable paper now often used for hardbacks, which yellows swiftly. He calls them "paperbacks in disguise". Well put. Such was his complaint that a better paper was used for an imminent novel - but the irony is that this volume of letters, which costs £30, is printed on rough paper.