the law won – police academy and 80s pop culture

  The police in 2020 may feel beleaguered by the pressure to account for their actions and act within the boundaries of the laws they are supposed to be upholding, but despite the usual complaining from conservative nostalgists about declining standards of respect, the question…

inside the doll’s house

The dying man glows with sickness in his mildewy-looking bed, the light seeming to emanate from where he sits, crammed into the airless, box-like room. He signs his will while his friend looks on intently with concern and restrained grief. The artist who painted Thomas…

7.6 billion mirrors – the value of art

Was it a cold morning in Edinburgh in 1586 when James VI, only twenty years old, very aware of his status as a divinely-appointed monarch, but with already a lifetime’s experience of human nature and earthly politics, sat in front of Adrian Vanson to be…

time for a change; the death of a decade

  Between the ages of 14 and 16 or thereabouts, the things I probably loved the most – or at least the most consistently – were horror (books and movies) and heavy metal. These loves changed (and ended, for a long time) at around the…

courbet’s birthday – the case for conscious iconoclasm

  Gustave Courbet was born 101 years ago today, but although he remains one of the key figures in nineteenth century art and the roots of modernism, this isn’t about his painting. During the Franco-Prussian war, Courbet, by then in his 50s and an elder…

chosen ones and dark lords and everything in between

To start with, this was mostly about books, and I think it will end that way too. But it begins with a not terribly controversial statement; hero worship is not good. And the greatest figures in the fight for human rights or human progress of…

music in quarantine: march 2020

  This is another roundup of new music that seemed interesting enough to me to check out. Not, you might think, an ideal time to be releasing a new album; and yet, with the majority of music sales, despite the resurgence of vinyl, still being digital…