In praise of commons

February 27, 2021 0 Comments
In praise of commons

Walk for ten minutes from where I write and you’ll arrive at the southern edge of Clyne Common.  Houses alongside the track, most of them built within the last ten years, suddenly give way to an expanse of wild, unenclosed land.  It stretches ahead of you to the west, and further to the north, gradually […]

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Anna Maria van Schurman

February 19, 2021 0 Comments
Anna Maria van Schurman

One of the most useful things an historian can do is to restore to us people from the past who have unjustly slipped from our collective memory.  Until recently an outstanding figure of early European science had vanished from sight almost completely, except in his home country.  In his lifetime, the second half of the […]

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Plague: a Martian sends a postcard home

February 12, 2021 1 Comment
Plague: a Martian sends a postcard home

My dearest brothers and sisters Five years have passed since I wrote to you about my last visit to Earth.  You will remember that I ended my report by counselling you not to send me on a third mission to that hapless planet, or at least to that insignificant part of it known as the […]

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Field

February 5, 2021 0 Comments
Field

The simplest way to get there is from the top of the road that climbs up from the bay.  Turning left at the signpost, you walk along a broad path.  At one point it’s ankle-deep in mud, like most Gower footpaths in this damp and Covid-walker winter.  Suddenly the path opens out into a field.   […]

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Thomas Jones’s ‘A wall in Naples’

January 29, 2021 3 Comments
Thomas Jones’s ‘A wall in Naples’

This week Patrick McGuinness reminded his Twitter followers of a two-part poem he published in his 2004 collection The Canals of Mars, called ‘Two paintings by Thomas Jones’.  The first part, ‘A wall in Naples’, goes like this: I look and look until the nothing that I seeperfects itself. I perfect its lack of interest,as […]

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Tennyson in Llanberis

January 23, 2021 0 Comments
Tennyson in Llanberis

Alfred Tennyson was born in Lincolnshire, and lived there throughout the first part of his life.  The portrait of him that always comes to mind is the photo Julia Margaret Cameron took of him in 1865, which shows him as prematurely aged, with thinning, straggly hair, untidy beard and lined face (Tennyson said it made […]

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Pos poblogrwydd Boris

January 16, 2021 0 Comments
Pos poblogrwydd Boris

Yn gyson mae’r cwmni pôl pinion YouGov yn tracio bwriad pleidleisio pobl ar draws Prydain.  Dangosa’r canlyniadau mwyaf diweddar (4-5 Ionawr 2021) fod y Blaid Geidwadol a’r Blaid Lafur yn gyfartal (39% yr un).  Sut ar y ddaear y gallai hyn fod yn bosibl? Ystyriwch yr hyn sy wedi digwydd ers i Boris Johnson ennill […]

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The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

January 9, 2021 0 Comments
The Cyfarthfa Philosophical Society

The end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century saw the rise of local ‘literary and philosophical institutions’ throughout the British Isles.  They aimed to bring together like-minded people to discuss issues of the day.  The label ‘philosophy’ usually meant not logic or metaphysics, but an interest in the latest developments in […]

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The shock of the cold

January 2, 2021 1 Comment
The shock of the cold

The year of Covid has changed many social habits, for good and ill.  Some habits are quite new and unexpected.  One of the most recent in our area has been the rise of cold-water sea bathing. I tend to go running along the sea cliffs at roughly the same time – just after dawn at […]

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The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

December 26, 2020 2 Comments
The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

By now the ‘invented tradition’ is itself a tradition.  Since Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger published their edited collection The invention of tradition in 1983, we’ve become familiar with the idea that rituals, histories and beliefs that seem age-old were actually recent fictions devised with specific purposes in mind. One of the chapters in The […]

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