The Pub Curmudgeon on the Rolling English Road

origin of the poem, which I hadn't known, etc: ...It isn’t widely realised, though, that the poem actually comes from a strange novel by Chesterton entitled The Flying Inn which was published in 1914 and is described by Charles Moore in the linked article, which oddly fails to name it in its title. As he says, “The novel is mostly quite silly, and occasionally objectionable.”The theme of the book, which in a way is prophetic but at the same time very wide of the mark, is a takeover of Engla … [Read more...]

Transported in Time: Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney

So I'm in Sydney, and it's amazing. Beautiful weather (and what I'm gonna call sublime weather, the day we went out to Botany Bay and watched the swells breaking on the sandstone in front of a stormy sky), lovely people, majestic cockatoos which sound like fishwives, magpies, aggressive little mynahs harassing giant ravens, ibises rooting around everywhere the way we have Canada geese at home, shaggy gum trees, palm trees, hibiscus.And also, there's the Hyde Park Barracks, which was designed … [Read more...]

Poor Little Rich Christian: Hulu’s Intermittently-Insightful “Rev.”

“First let's say morning prayer. But let's say it quietly, in case somebody here has got a hangover.”That's from the first episode of Rev., a Hulu series about an Anglican vicar in a tough London neighborhood, and it captures the show's best side: a humorous acceptance of human weakness, combined with a seriousness about prayer. There's a lot to love about Rev., so although I'm going to be critical, I want to start by highlighting what's so intriguing and endearing about the show. Its first t … [Read more...]

Cheer Up with the Smiths! I’m at the American Spectator

reporting live from 1984! What everybody forgets about the Smiths is how much fun they were.And not just fun: The band careened through the '80s putting out four studio albums which were joyful, sexy, funny, self-deprecating, silly, and even sometimes compulsively danceable. The myth of Morrissey and his mopey muse has some truth to it—and he made the jokes first, in song titles like “Miserable Lie,” “Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now,” “Pretty Girls Make Graves” and the rest—but the band mocke … [Read more...]

From Evelyn Waugh, “Men at Arms”

They performed an exercise of "company in the attack," became entirely intermixed, extricated themselves and bivouacked under the stars. A warm night, smelling of dry furze. Guy made a round of the sentries and then lay awake. Dawn came quickly, bringing momentary beauty even to that sorry countryside. They fell in and marched back to camp. Rather light-headed after his sleepless night Guy marched in front beside de Souza. From behind them came the songs: "Roll out the barrel"; "There are rats, … [Read more...]

Richard III’s Bones Definitely Found; Details of His Brutal Last Day

This week, in Things I Care About: Not just the identity of the man in the car park with the twisted spine, but the appalling last moments and humiliating treatment of the naked body of Richard III in the hours after his death have been revealed at an extraordinary press conference at Leicester University. ..."I'm a medievalist really," Morris said. "I don't go much for the Tudors. Even if Richard did kill the princes in the tower, you have to judge him by the standards of his day – no o … [Read more...]

Goldfinch and Lyre Bird

I just re-read The Liar, Stephen Fry's 1991 debut novel, and it's still the funniest thing I've ever read. The antihero, Adrian Healey, careens through life plagiarizing, dissembling, cheating at cricket, and camouflaging his deepest emotions. He's terrified of getting caught (at what? at everything), and fears/hopes that the whole world is just a giant set-up to expose him.It's a heartbreaking book in its own way, scathing but poignant. Adrian's vulnerability comes through from the very … [Read more...]


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