Archive for 2020

The Last Bard: loops of an invented tradition

December 26, 2020 0 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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The revolutionary gaze of Constance Mayer

December 19, 2020 0 Comments
The revolutionary gaze of Constance Mayer

In a room a woman, about thirty years of age, sits alone. The room is plain, with two bare walls, dark and grey.  Its furniture is sparse, just a chair and a round table with round brass handles.  The woman wears a simple white cotton dress.  It has a high waistband and lacks sleeves, leaving […]

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Some books I read in 2020

December 11, 2020 1 Comment
Some books I read in 2020

One of the very few consolations of Covid lockdowns has been that more people seem to have read more books during 2020.  In the first half of the year fewer print books were sold, since bookshops were often closed, but UK sales of e-books increased by 17%, and audio books by 47%.  I’ve certainly read […]

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Henry de la Beche defends slavery

December 4, 2020 2 Comments
Henry de la Beche defends slavery

If you were a financial beneficiary of a Caribbean sugar plantation dependent on slave labour, how would you react to the movement to abolish slavery?  Fight the movement aggressively in order to defend your interests?  Keep your head down and wait to collect your government compensation?  Admit the rightness of the movement’s cause, and ‘disinvest’?  […]

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The art of the political apology

November 27, 2020 0 Comments
The art of the political apology

Most politicians are egotists.  (All right, I can think of a few exceptions, but as a general rule the proposition stands.)  The bloodstreams of those who reach positions of real power contain dangerously high levels of egotism, or they would not have succeeded as they have.  One of the results of such self-regard is that […]

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Richard Owain Roberts’s ‘Hello friend we missed you’

November 20, 2020 0 Comments
Richard Owain Roberts’s ‘Hello friend we missed you’

Hello friend we missed you is Richard Owain Roberts’s first novel.  Published by Parthian, it was nominated for this year’s Guardian ‘Not the Booker’ prize.  It duly won the award in October 2020 after a readers’ vote. In the book Roberts sets himself a big challenge: how to engage us as readers with a protagonist […]

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Nôl i normalrwydd?

November 14, 2020 0 Comments
Nôl i normalrwydd?

Pob heol yn wag ac yn ddistaw.    Ceir yn segur y tu allan i dai eu perchnogion.  Y  rheini yn celu y tu mewn i’w cartrefi.  Ychydig iawn o bobl i’w gweld yn yr awyr agored.  Gallech chi blannu eich traed, pe baech yn dymuno, ar hyd y llinell wen yng nghanol y ffordd, a […]

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Thomas Traherne goes walking

November 7, 2020 0 Comments
Thomas Traherne goes walking

Today Thomas Traherne is counted alongside George Herbert and Henry Vaughan as one of the great ‘metaphysical’ poets of the seventeenth century.  All three, interestingly, were men of Welsh and Welsh Borders origin.  Herbert was born in Montgomery, Vaughan came from Llansantffraed near Talybont-on-Usk and returned there to live, and Traherne was probably born in […]

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Kate Bingham and the rotten state

November 3, 2020 4 Comments
Kate Bingham and the rotten state

If the case of Dido Harding has become a prominent symbol of the degradation of public life in the UK, few until recently were aware that it has a close second, in exactly the same field of Covid policy: the case of Kate Bingham. Boris Johnson appointed Kate Bingham in May 2020 as the chair […]

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The Black Flag

October 30, 2020 1 Comment
The Black Flag

The Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is closed for ‘firewall’ fortnight, but when it reopens you could do worse than pay it a visit.  There are several excellent temporary exhibitions, as well as some seldom-seen items from the permanent collection, including a small display of art on the theme of protest.  Its centrepiece is a striking […]

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