“Ane doolie sessoun” covid-19 and the art of isolation

  At some point in the late fifteenth century, the poet Robert Henryson (who lived in Dunfermline, not too far from where I’m writing now), began his Testament of Cresseid with one of my favourite openings of any poem: Ane doolie sessoun to ane cairfull…

New Year, New Decade, New…

  A new decade, and the year is flying past already. I intended to write something full of enthusiasm and positivity at the beginning of January, but at that point I was still clumping about in a walking boot and using crutches so it had…

messages from the past for the future

  Sitting down to write this, a month after breaking my leg and having to grapple with hitherto-unconsidered questions like ‘how do I usually sit on a toilet’? and one week before a General Election where my preferred of the apparently plausible outcomes is an…

birds & murderers; raptorama

As I write these words it’s the first day of summer and I’m sitting in my study (sounds pompous, but ‘room full of books and records where I work’ is less economical), with Atom Heart Mother playing, looking out at a beautiful sky of quilted dove-grey clouds…

Believing in Them – old books, old eyes, new readings

  In Richard Linklater’s reputedly anti-nostalgic, but actually still quite nostalgic 1993 film Dazed and Confused, Matthew McConaughey’s Fonz-like character Wooderson articulates his Fonzhood in a way that – as far as I remember – the actual Fonz never does*: “That’s what I love about…

‘Cheryl Heard A Wet Thud’: Tread Softly by Richard Kelly

  There’s a moment in Peter Bagge’s immortal Generation X soap opera comicbook Hate¹ where a character says “That need to reclaim a dusty corner of your youth can be overwhelming at times” and even when I first read that in my late 20s, the truth of…

11 June 1936: The International Surrealist Exhibition

Thursday, June 11th, 1936. Ominous context; the previous week, Mussolini had authorised his troops to kill prisoners taken in the war that followed Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. Shortly thereafter, Haile Selassie, Emperor in exile, would appeal to the League of Nations against the Fascists, but…

The Vanishing Everything of Everywhere; Goodbye 2017

“Time, time, time, see what’s become of me…” When The Bangles covered Simon & Garfunkel’s A Hazy Shade of Winter in 1987, the song was 21 years and one month old, now The Bangles’ version (from the underrated – according to me – movie of…