Openreach: what’s it good for?

August 7, 2020 0 Comments
Openreach: what’s it good for?

It sounds so positive as a name, doesn’t it?  Openreach.  Open reach.  Imagine an arm extended in friendly welcome or offering a helping hand to someone in need.  An organisation, surely, that exists only to add to the sum of human happiness.  ‘Connecting you to your network’, says the website, ‘we believe everyone deserves fast […]

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Cymru annibynnol: un arall o blaid

July 31, 2020 0 Comments
Cymru annibynnol: un arall o blaid

Pwy ydych chi?  I ba wlad ych chi’n perthyn? Am flynyddoedd, os digwyddodd rhywun holi – a gwrthod derbyn tawelwch, neu’r ateb ‘dinesydd y byd’ – fy ateb fu ‘Prydeiniwr’.  Albanes oedd fy mam.  Daeth fy nhad o Swydd Efrog, a bues i’n byw yn Lloegr tan yn 21 mlwydd oed.  Cymru fu fy nghartref […]

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Emily Dickinson’s ‘What care the Dead’

July 24, 2020 3 Comments
Emily Dickinson’s ‘What care the Dead’

When I’m distracted or glum I often reach for the poems of Emily Dickinson. I’ve a old copy of Thomas H. Johnson’s complete edition, published in this country by Faber.  It’s less of a book and more of a box.  With its stocky build and 770 pages it looks like a box of postcards.  You […]

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Six Classical

July 17, 2020 3 Comments
Six Classical

Things were different when we reached the sixth form.  Before then the teaching principle our school followed was ‘punch as many nails of knowledge into their dense skulls as possible, and some of them may stick there’.  ‘Turpe nescire’ – it’s a disgrace to be a dunce – was the school’s motto, and factual ignorance […]

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John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

July 10, 2020 0 Comments
John ‘Walking’ Stewart, an extreme pedestrian

In his time Foster Powell was known for mighty feats of pedestrianism.  But his achievements pale in comparison with those of a rather younger contemporary, John ‘Walking’ Stewart (1747-1822).  While Powell’s stage was mainly limited to England and Scotland, Stewart walked over large parts of the globe.  As well as his wanderings he was known […]

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Cornelius Varley in Wales

July 3, 2020 3 Comments
Cornelius Varley in Wales

Among the many artists who came to draw and paint in Wales around the turn of the eighteenth century, Cornelius Varley is yet to receive just attention.  The pictures he made in Wales are fresh, delicate and strong, the work of a young man with great visual intelligence who reacted with instinctive wonder and clarity […]

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Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

June 26, 2020 0 Comments
Foster Powell, the great pedestrian

When he was 21 years old Samuel Taylor Coleridge came to Wales for a walking tour with his Cambridge friend Joseph Hucks.  In a letter written in Denbigh in July 1794 to Robert Southey he summarises the trip so far, and writes, From Bala we travelled onward to Llangollen, a most beautiful village in a […]

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Chaos describ’d

June 19, 2020 0 Comments
Chaos describ’d

These days chaos as a concept has been captured by mathematics and physics. (Sometimes it gets re-exported to the popular imagination through tropes like the butterfly effect.)  But before that it was available to anyone.  It was especially attractive to philosophers, theologians and mystics, and to creative people like writers and artists. Chaos has always […]

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Cymru a W.G. Sebald

June 12, 2020 0 Comments
Cymru a W.G. Sebald

Cyhoeddodd W.G. Sebald Austerlitz, ei nofel olaf (os mai nofel yw hi) yn Almaeneg yn 2001.  Pan ddaeth y fersiwn Saesneg allan yn 2002, roedd yn syndod i ddarllenwyr yma i ddarganfod mai Cymru yw un o’i phrif leoliadau, mewn llyfr sy’n crwydro dros rannau helaeth o gyfandir Ewrop.  Hanes dyn o’r enw Jacques Austerlitz […]

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Time and Johannes Vermeer

June 6, 2020 4 Comments
Time and Johannes Vermeer

Today’s the last day of my imaginary return visit to the city of Delft.  As always, it’s been a time of rest and contemplation among the canals and step-gabled houses facing them.  And as usual I’ve been thinking about Delft’s most famous citizen, Johannes Vermeer, and his paintings – this time, the early works that […]

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