Category Archives: Art, music and beauty

The mowing of a field

This passage, the opening lines of an essay by Hilaire Belloc, was one of those pieces we were shown at school, some 50 years ago, as an example of fine English writing.  I have just discovered it again accidentally through … Continue reading

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Cold wind

The freshening cold winds of autumn in southern England always bring to mind some delightful lines of poetry I’ve collected over the years.  To introduce some here, I’d like to recall reading an interview by the actress Angie Dickinson, in … Continue reading

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Lydia Calas

I don’t usually watch the signer who pops up on daytime TV news bulletins, but I’ll make an exception for the lady that Hurricane Sandy has blown into Mayor Bloomberg’s office.  Her looks and the passionata with which she transmits … Continue reading

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An Estonian in Paris

For a rich young Estonian aristocrat, a decorated officer in the victorious allied armies entering Paris in March 1814, the city was clearly a paradise in which he could live life to the full; in his case, very much a … Continue reading

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God Save The King

HM The Queen is 85 this year.  She is so attuned to the demands of duty that she would perfectly understand it if it became known that the planning for the Accession proclamation, if not the Coronation of King Charles … Continue reading

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History on film

Halfway through the best cinematic car chase ever, in Bullitt (1968), there’s a shot of the two villains fleeing Steve McQueen pausing for a moment to click on their seatbelts.  From the perspective of 43 years later, we marvel at … Continue reading

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Cityscapes

Visiting Paris again for a long weekend, I’m reminded how much I appreciate certain types of cityscape.  Whatever they are, almost all can be found here in the City of Light. That’s why I love it as much as I … Continue reading

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Royal futures

Four final thoughts about the Royal Wedding, some of which have been expressed by others. Here are my versions. First, the new Duchess of Cambridge looks as if she is already laying to rest the whole ‘Diana thing’.  That febrile … Continue reading

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Giotto’s circle

Surely one of the coollest auditions in history, Giotto‘s masterful response to the Pope’s request for evidence of his genius has long been a favourite story of mine.  Here it is in Italian, followed by my translation into quasi-Gibbonesque English. … Continue reading

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Stendhal Syndrome

It must be one of the strangest maladies recognised by medical science.  It afflicts tourists who, after some exposure to great art, especially in Italy, feel weak and dizzy; some even have to be hospitalised. The condition is named Stendhal … Continue reading

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