Robert Hughes died recently. I liked reading his work.
This is what he said about democracy and art – from an editorial in the Guardian newspaper:
The late Robert Hughes wrote his own epitaph in his 1993 polemic Culture of Complaint, where he inveighed against the banal politicisation of art and championed instead the importance of quality.
“Some things do strike us as better than others – more articulate, more radiant with consciousness,” Hughes insisted. “We may have difficulty saying why, but the experience remains.”
Democracy’s task, in the field of art, he believed, was to make the world safe for elitism, not to outlaw it. He believed passionately – in Hughes’s case the adverb is redundant – in an elitism that was not based on class, wealth or race, but on skill, imagination, high ability and intense vision Continue reading
See – I told you it was a tank. This British Centurion tank was out during Operation Motorman. So perhaps it was a tank I saw. The photo is by Eamon Melaugh – click on the pic for more of his work.
Memory is tricky. Childhood memories even trickier.
Which memories are real. Which are from stories or photographs?
Top Boy shares his first memory with me. He was running up and down the street in from of our house. Past houses, back past houses, back past houses again, then past a house with a low white wall and a blue triangular prismatic top… (the shape details are quite extensive and go on for some time, so I’ve skipped them – funnily enough he’s now a big science fan) …then he fell over and hurt his knee. What happened next? Doesn’t remember.
Mine is one of these. I don’t know which.
1. When I was five (or thereabouts) we moved house from a more troubled to a less troubled area of Belfast. I don’t remember anything before or during the journey until we turned onto the new street. It was more shaded, quieter, greener, with trees and hedges. I remember that. Nothing before. Except maybe for…
2. Seeing my first tank. Very exciting. Big. High. Wide. Dark, maybe green but definitely spattered with white paint. On the road outside the Busy Bee shopping centre in Belfast Continue reading
Olaudah Equiano - one of Belfast's more famous visitors.
Question: What have Liverpool, Bristol and all sorts of other places got that Belfast hasn’t?
Answer: A corporate history of slave trading.
Hurrah! One shameful pursuit into which we did not dive. Continue reading
It must be catching, this Titanic fever. There’s no escaping it on telly or in the news. Here’s my contribution…
In other words – enough already. We built it. It crashed. It sank. Continue reading
Filed under history, life
Arthur Magee - Ambassador of the humane to humanity
How could you not love a face like that? It’s playwright and tour guide Arthur Magee. He has a bee in his bonnet about the type of tourism that goes on in Belfast – sometimes called “terror tours”. You know the sort of thing – here’s the Falls Road, here’s the Shankill, here’s where he was shot and she was blown up.
Anything wrong with it? Maybe not. Can be educational, even respectful. And it’s clearly part of the history and undeniably internationally known. I’ve even done it myself in an informal way for foreign mates who, to my surprise, had studied Northern Ireland at college. Odd to think of yourself as a laboratory specimen.
But though Norn Irn’ers have been known to revel in their notoriety and believe – or demand – that the world revolves round them (“Never mind the fall of the Berlin Wall – what about the Apprentice Boys wanting to march across the Ormeau Bridge!?!) – you can imagine that it can become tiresome to feel that visitors see you solely in the context of the Troubles. A bit like being in a zoo too. In the cage.
Brendan Deeds - writer
Which is why Arthur Magee has come up with an alternative Continue reading
It was a grim day for first responders, but I didn't want a sad picture. So here are happy NYPD officers.
It’s that time of year when you talk about where you were when…
Which I haven’t done before because it seems a distasteful online version of shroud waving, unless you actually were there, like BBC journalist Stephen Evans who happened to be inside the World Trade Center when the planes struck, or you really helped, or – of course – it hit close to home – like with this young man who lost his Belfast-born father.
But somebody asked me to write something and perhaps once every ten years is acceptable. So…
There I was sitting in a radio studio in Bush House in London. I was editing a radio show called Newshour which goes out on the BBC World Service (reputed audience of 157 million Continue reading
Lilian Bland preparing for take off
Lively ladies sounds so much more alluring than likely lads, doesn’t it. Smacks of cancan and Toulouse Lautrec. But in this case it’s paint and engine oil.
Lively lady No.1 – Lilian Bland
Lilian comes courtesy of Grannymar, who tells a lovely story about the first woman to design, build and fly her own aeroplane. The pioneering aviatrix (1877-1972) was originally from the south east of England, but she spread her wings in, round and over Carnmoney in County Antrim in the north east of Ireland.
This excerpt from Grannymar’s post gives you a flavour of Lilian Bland’s character:
She was so keen to fly that she came over to England to pick up the engine and took it a back on the train with her. Once home in Ireland, there was no petrol tank so she used an empty whiskey bottle and her aunt’s ear trumpet Continue reading
I've had some grief from Grannymar in the past about gratuitous swimsuitery - but surely this must count as editorially justified. And gorgeous. (Phoarr.)
It’s summer. It’s sunny. So the bad news is that it’s time to dredge up your swimming cossies.
Eek! I know.
I’m sure Well Done Fillet is not the only one battling with left over winter padding. But never fear, the Good Greatsby has a wonderful list of ways to overcome any embarrassment or shyness you may feel. There’s bound to be an answer that suits you.
But the good news is that it’s time for another guest post from Pam, who lives down the street from me in our village.
You may remember her first guest post about the rabbit lady, the evacuees, the rat catcher and how it was When no one locked their doors on my street.
Well, Pam’s back with a summery account of uninvited guests and how to treat them way back when- featuring foxes, hikers, horses and hunters. So, over to Pam, with more tales of a southern English village:
Although it was before my time, I was told by a neighbour, Mr Ben Batting who lived at No.37, that originally, before the road was built, the oak tree at No.17 used to be on the corner of three fields. When there was a fox killed by the hunt, it used to be nailed to this tree. Before World War Two fox hunting around the woods and fields was a common sight.
One day a Continue reading