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 …

“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 …

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 …

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 …

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