They shoot mules don’t they?

2 May

Last week Indonesia shot nine drug smugglers after a decade on death row. Since most were foreigners, the final days saw much megaphone diplomacy: greatest attention going predictably to two (non-white) Australians. Canberra has form here. Its outspoken responses to … Read More »

Motorbiking II

3 Mar

In  my  highly  acclaimed  Motorbiking  I  –  written last  year,  also  from Vietnam  –  I  told  of  fishing  boats  and  traffic  chaos,  towering  Buddhas  and  downing  beers,  curving  alleyways  and  writhing  sea  snakes.  I’ll  return  to  snakes  another time;  this  … Read More »

Gorecki’s Third Symphony

4 Feb

Gorecki’s choral 3rd, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, could hardly be less typical of a composer outspokenly avant garde; a Stockhausen admirer whose declared mission was “not to entertain but to educate”.  Symphony No 3, piercing in its melodic simplicity, was … Read More »

Wolf Hall televised

30 Jan

The medium is the message, said Marshall McLuhan. Silly to judge screenplay by ‘fidelity’ to book. The latter may be as well crafted (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), better crafted (Bridget Jones) or just ill advised (Gormenghast) but fidelity … Read More »

Caravaggio & Rembrandt

22 Jan

Carpenters use plane and saw to shape wood and not-wood to requirement. Photographers use shutter, aperture and studio kit or off-camera flash to shape light and not-light. Which is why two painters hold special significance for shutterbugs. Rembrandt was four when Caravaggio … Read More »

Peaky Blinders

30 Sep

For those who remember the seventies period piece, When the Boat Comes In, BBC 2’s Peaky Blinders – series two starting on Thursday – will have a familiar ring. Both are set in the turbulent aftermath of WW1. Both give … Read More »