And Priestley Begat Beiderbecke

I’m going to write a bit of something about the background to Alan Plater’s great 1985 comedy-drama The Beiderbecke Affair. If you’re a big fan of Plater and of the series, you may know most of what I’m going to say, but even if that’s the case, there’s a little bit at the end that …

The Light Brigade (Re-Charged)

The following is an unrespectable rewrite of Tennyson’s 1854 poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade.” I wrote, if that’s the word, this version back in 2018, in the context of a wilfully ruinous Brexit. As such, there is a kind of satirical intent, but my version is not intended to be funny. I only …

The Last Fling of All

In those last minutes, the Great Leaders returned to their deep bunkers, and the missiles soared and dropped. In every part of the world, every person that there is felt one searing moment of pain, as flesh stripped away. In the silence that then fell, each person looked down at a bony arm or leg, …

In Praise of the Novella

What is a novella? It’s a novel, that’s all: a novel that happens to have not as many words as some other novels do. Wikipedia, the fount of all knowledge, states that “Publishers and literary award societies typically consider a novella’s word count to be between 17,000 and 40,000 words.” That is, taking as a …

Wodehouse in Captivity

As you may know, P.G. Wodehouse is one of my literary obsessions. I do a separate blog about those Wodehouse books for which the illustrator Ionicus did covers in the 1970s and 1980s. However, I’m going to write something here which is quite separate from the subject of that blog, concerning a matter which Ionicus …

Uncommon Assault: the Statesman and the Scribbler

I’m going to tell you the story of a case of technical assault which took place in the lobby of the House of Commons in the year 1893. What makes the incident especially unusual is that the assailant was a Member of Parliament and the victim was a Punch cartoonist. This little tale intrigued me …

The Fall and Rise of Colonel Blimp

David Low is still known as one of the great masters of the political cartoon. His glory years were probably the 1930s and 1940s. In 1934, he invented Colonel Blimp for his page in the London Evening Standard: a elderly, absurd retired officer always spouting the latest reactionary nonsense, in the process managing to muddle …

Wasps in the Beehive

This is going to be about Terry Pratchett. But it will also be about the much more trivial matter of who rules us and what we can do about it. Due to the things I want to say, there will certainly be spoilers, particularly about the Terry Pratchett novels “Guards! Guards!”, “Witches Abroad” and “Lords …

How Gilbert Became Bab (Part Two)

This post follows directly on from Part One: https://topseyturveydom.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/how-gilbert-became-bab-part-one/ We left our hero first using the artist’s pseudonym “Bab” in order to conceal from his employers, the Education Office, that he had drawn a cartoon criticising their policy. In March the following year a column appeared in Fun entitled “The Education Office, Again” which laid …

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