Cosima’s Birthday: An Episode in the Life of a Genius

(Inspired by the well-known story of the origins of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll.) COSIMA WAGNER IS IN BED ON CHRISTMAS DAY. ENTER THE GREAT WAGNER. WAGNER: My wife, I wish you a very happy birthday. COSIMA: That was yesterday. WAGNER: Was it? Ah, what do days matter? Yesterday, today, tomorrow, they are all the same in …

Ian Fenwick and Wodehouse

Sometimes, my interests lead me to strange places. A few weeks ago, I was tweeting about first edition covers to the works of P.G. Wodehouse, as you do, and I wondered if the cover of The Code of the Woosters was by the famous cartoonist Fougasse (Cyril Kenneth Bird). I don’t want to keep you …

The Man Who Found a Cat in His Hair

Gerald hadn’t meant his hair to grow so long. He’d had his chance in the summer when the salons reopened, at just the time when his hair, moving beyond the point of mere shagginess, was starting to become distinctly unusual. Nevertheless, and despite the regular occasions when he looked in the mirror and thought, “I …

Blott in the Age of Brexit

I’ve always said that the history of Brexit is being written by Tom Sharpe, that writer of brutal farces in which the most awful events escalate without mercy, British society is shown to be rotten through and through, and civilised values are not upheld with anything except the most perfunctory lip service. I have been …

Trumpets and Miracles: Sondheim’s “Anyone Can Whistle”

There are artists (usually writers) whose works I enjoy immensely while at the same time feeling an undercurrent of irritation at them. Stephen Sondheim is one of those artists. There is a fastidious rightness in his best work that I love, exemplified in the lines from A Little Night Music‘s “The Sun Won’t Set”, a …

Barry Pain and the old “new humour”

When I’m interested in something, I always try to find out everything about that thing. When I first realised I liked P.G. Wodehouse, in my early teens, I sought out everything he wrote. And when I had practically exhausted that, I tried to find out about the writers who had inspired him. That’s one of …

The Seized Moment: a story by Andrew Crowther

“Jake! Aren’t you ready yet? We’re going!” Jake called down from his room: “In a moment!” “Now!” Jake did not really want to go on the demonstration. Fourteen years of age, he had better things to do with his time on a Saturday morning. However, he knew he ought to show willing. After all, as …

“Jill the Reckless” at 100

According to Wikipedia, today (8 October 2020) is the 100th anniversary of the book publication in the United States of P.G. Wodehouse’s novel The Little Warrior, subsequently published in the UK as Jill the Reckless. As the Wikipedia entry quotes the definitive Wodehouse bibliography in support of its claim, I assume it is correct. I’m …

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