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Bad Timing (1980)

I have been invited to speak at the Third Man Museum in Vienna on Graham Greene’s Film World and this will be my first visit to the city. I had lunch with one of the most entertaining and informed contributors to my film lists, Michael Cole – whose daughter lives in Vienna – to [...]

August 16, 2014 // 0 Comments

The impossibility of making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

No doubt like many others beyond – shall we say – the first flush of youth, yesterday evening I tuned in to watch Jo Pavey’s progress and eventual triumph in the European Athletics Championships women’s 10,000 metres final. The mother-of-two, who will be celebrating her 41st birthday in a [...]

August 13, 2014 // 0 Comments

Edward Seago

As an art critic and historian, I sometimes am requested to advise on collectible artists and one I recommend is Edward Seago. Born in Norwich in 1910 as the son of a coal merchant, he was entirely self-educated. He had a heart condition, first diagnosed aged 7, which forced him to spend a great [...]

August 7, 2014 // 0 Comments

Going back and actually enjoying it

Last night, in keeping with my normal television-choice routine, I channel-hopped as far as BBC4 in a desperate attempt to find something worth watching and thereby came across The Story of the 1986 Commonwealth Games on BBC4. [Here I must confess that I am about to comment upon an hour-long [...]

August 7, 2014 // 0 Comments

Observation and insights

For some time now, the world has been aware that Clive James – Australian author, columnist, television and book reviewer, lyricist and poet – is terminally ill. I have been an admirer of his from the days long ago when he made his name in Britain as The Observer’s television critic and [...]

August 6, 2014 // 0 Comments

Smiley’s People

A friend of mine is shortly to publish the biography of John Le Carre. We recently met and I confessed to him that I found Le Carre’s novels hard to follow, which is a bit like admitting you find the Economist dull. He said this was not uncommon given the complexity of the plots, but [...]

August 5, 2014 // 0 Comments

Like the curate’s egg

Yesterday I went to the Chichester Festival Theatre see the matinee performance of the Jamie Glover-directed productions of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie – a new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz – and Peter Shaffer’s Black Comedy, two one-act plays first paired together in 1965 by [...]

August 3, 2014 // 0 Comments

Fest by Robert McCrum

Fest by Robert McCrum is both a murder story and pastiche on literary festivals. It probably succeeds better as the former. McCrum was the distinguished editor of Faber for many years and knows the publishing world intimately. The result was that the satire on literary festivals was rather [...]

July 30, 2014 // 0 Comments

Don Giovanni

Last night I saw the performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne. The classification of his opera is neither opera seria or opera buffa (light opera), but drama giacoso (comic crama) and this reflects an opera that is both amusing and serious. Jonathan Kent’s production placed [...]

July 26, 2014 // 0 Comments

Trial and error

In my youth I was never much of a Peter Sellers fan. My father considered him a fine mimic but doubted if his film legacy would last. I found neither the Goons nor Inspector Clouseau that amusing, but silly, unlike Prince Charles who reputedly laughed so much at a Goon show he wet his next door [...]

July 22, 2014 // 0 Comments

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