August Kleinzahler’s mother

February 15, 2019 0 Comments
August Kleinzahler’s mother

One of the benefits of being able to wander round a really big bookshop – I was in London, in the huge Waterstones in Piccadilly – is that you come across books that you’d be very unlikely to stumble across in a smaller shop – let alone on the imaginary shelves of the appalling Amazon. […]

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A new Public Libraries Act for Wales

February 8, 2019 4 Comments
A new Public Libraries Act for Wales

One of the saddest features of our age is the rapid decline of the public library.  What was once a crucial and heavily used part of local public provision has become, with some exceptions, a starved, neglected and run-down service. According to the latest CIPFA statistics for the UK, spending on public libraries dropped again, […]

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The Sicilian Expedition: a second Brexit footnote

February 3, 2019 0 Comments
The Sicilian Expedition: a second Brexit footnote

After the 2016 Brexit referendum I suggested that the historian Thucydides, in the fifth century BC, can help us to understand how democracies have the capacity to change their decisions on major policies – and both the capacity and the duty to do so when those decisions are clearly, in retrospect, unwise or disastrous.  A […]

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Writing for affect

January 26, 2019 0 Comments
Writing for affect

By accident I happened on four late-night radio voices discussing ‘consent’.  Their focus was Samuel Richardson’s 1740 novel-in-letters, Pamela; or, Virtue rewarded, and Martin Crimp’s current stage production at the National Theatre, When we have sufficiently tortured each other, which is based on chunks of Richardson’s lengthy book.  Both are tough reads, in the #MeToo […]

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Lying diagonally in bed

January 18, 2019 0 Comments
Lying diagonally in bed

Book 6 of Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy contains an insight that few, if any, novels – or indeed any works of non-fiction – published before or since, have achieved. In chapter 39, a message reaches the house of Tristram’s parents that Uncle Toby, his father’s brother, a veteran injured in the groin in the siege […]

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Dilyn Iolo

January 13, 2019 0 Comments
Dilyn Iolo

Bore mwyn, di-haul o Ionawr, a dyma bedwar ohonon ni’n cychwyn ar Daith Gerdded Treftadaeth Iolo Morganwg.  Taith gylchol o ryw bedair milltir a hanner yw hon, un o gyfres o deithiau cerdded wedi’u dyfeisio gan Gyngor Bro Morgannwg, gyda help Valeways, Ramblers Bro Morgannwg a’r Undeb Ewropeaidd (cofio hwnnw?). Taith berffaith ar gyfer canol […]

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Allies against slavery: Ignatius Sancho and Laurence Sterne

January 6, 2019 0 Comments
Allies against slavery: Ignatius Sancho and Laurence Sterne

Ignatius Sancho was one of the most prominent black Britons of the eighteenth century – and without doubt the most multi-talented.  Born in Africa, according to his own account (or on board ship, according to his biographer, Joseph Jekyll), he was shipped across the Atlantic to be a slave in the Spanish colony of New […]

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An unusual will: Laurence Sterne’s ‘The fragment’

December 28, 2018 0 Comments
An unusual will: Laurence Sterne’s ‘The fragment’

As far as I know, my father produced only one publication.  Its title was Notes on making a will and it was a pamphlet of just four pages (a single leaf folded with a white card cover).  The publisher, according to the cover, was ‘Bury & Walkers, Solicitors, Barnsley, Wombwell & Leeds’ (Dad was a […]

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Architecture in Wales: a dying art?

December 21, 2018 1 Comment
Architecture in Wales: a dying art?

John B. Hilling has just published a new book, The architecture of Wales, from the first to the twenty-first century (University of Wales Press, 2018, £27.00).  It’s an updating and rewriting of a book he produced in 1976 called The historic architecture of Wales.  I bought my copy for £5.50 in Cardiff in December of […]

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Sir John Perrot: two faces of a ruffian

December 15, 2018 0 Comments
Sir John Perrot: two faces of a ruffian

One of the images included in Wales in 100 objects is a small oil painting by an unknown artist, now in Haverfordwest Town Museum, of the Elizabethan magnate Sir John Perrot.  I chose this particular portrait, painted long after Perrot’s death, because it shows its subject as a jaunty, stylish and dashing character, whereas in […]

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