Notes beyond notes

We’ve just reached the time of year in New Zealand when arts organisations reveal their programmes for 2017. In the last few weeks, the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Chamber Music New Zealand, and Orchestra Wellington have launched new seasons. The programmes are ambitious and stimulating, an embarrassment of riches that will bring to audiences a mixture of outstanding local musicians, … More Notes beyond notes

2 September 2015

Today three pictures have been circulating on Facebook and Twitter. One shows a tiny child who we do not know, whose family we do not know, and whose short life-story we do not know; this toddler had been neatly and carefully dressed by somebody – a mother, a father, a sibling, a friend – but the … More 2 September 2015

In the Wellcome Library: Stoddart and Smart

During today’s post-lunch recovery phase at the Wellcome Library, I found a short book by William Henry Butter Stoddart (1868-1950) an eminent practitioner in the field of ‘mental diseases’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His 1908 textbook The Mind and its Disorders was a key text for doctors interested in emerging ideas about psychology … More In the Wellcome Library: Stoddart and Smart

In the Wellcome Libary: garden chalets and custard

The reading rooms at the Wellcome Library in Euston Road are airier and cooler (in all senses of the word) alternatives to the sometimes oppressive gloom and shuffling-noises of Rare Books and Music at the British Library. The only problem is that there are so many enticing titles staring at me from the shelves that … More In the Wellcome Libary: garden chalets and custard

Die Moritat von Mackie Messer

In 1998 my little brother embarked upon his Grade 5 TCL violin exam. One of his pieces was an arrangement of the ‘Tango-Ballad’ from Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Die Dreigroschenoper. We invested in a CD of Die Dreigroschenoper, the 1958 recording from the Afifo Studio, Tempelhof Berlin, with Lotte Lenya.  In retrospect, the ‘Tango-Ballad’ was a louche choice of arrangement … More Die Moritat von Mackie Messer


One of the interesting people I follow on Twitter is Laurence Raw, a member of the English Faculty at Baskent University in Turkey. He has written extensively on adaptation and the discipline of adaptation studies in a variety of texts including Adapting Henry James to the Screen: Gender, Fiction, and Film, and Adapting Nathaniel Hawthorne to the … More ‘Confer-ence’

Antonello’s St Jerome

Antonello’s St Jerome in his Study (NG1418) dates from c. 1475, when Antonello spent time in Venice. St Jerome is an example of a ‘cabinet painting’, designed to be viewed in a small intimate space and to serve as an object of aesthetic value and as a focus for contemplation.[i]  An outspoken and passionate man, … More Antonello’s St Jerome

Virginia Woolf at the National Portrait Gallery

‘Why must all these b***** people leave it until the last minute?’ said an exquisitely- and artistically-dressed woman of considerable antiquity in tones  as close to High Bloomsbury as 2014 could produce. Well, it seemed a case of pot/kettle, as she was also visiting Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision on its penultimate day. But perhaps … More Virginia Woolf at the National Portrait Gallery