Cruickshank’s London: A Portrait of a City in 13 Walks

Cruickshank’s London: A Portrait of a City in 13 Walks

 Whilst every capital city is awash in the ghosts of its past, London has signs of habitation dating back to the Neolithic period. Over the millennia London has been decimated by civil war, apocalyptic fire and the horrors of the Blitz; the very streets redrawn under our feet as London...

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Sons of Denmark

Sons of Denmark

In the years immediately following the 9/11 attacks, Islamic terror was viewed as much as an existential threat as a literal one. Neoliberalism had assured us that the West’s benevolent secular liberalism was supposed to reign for ever and ever, Hallelujah! But if history was as ended as we’d been...

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Land Without Dreams at the Gate Theatre

Land Without Dreams at the Gate Theatre

Land Without Dreams began life in Denmark which perhaps goes someway to explaining its uncynical call to optimism. Whilst the Scandi-noir boom has given us an image of a forbidding ice encrusted land filled with complicated women in horrible sweaters picking through errant body parts, Denmark is actually the second...

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Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Ghosteen

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds: Ghosteen

For more than four decades Nick Cave has spun out a lyrical universe that has ensnared countless fans like flies in a web. At the beginning of his career his songs were cracked Faulknerian operas, complete narratives full of crazed priests, consumptive prostitutes, whiskey and murder. As he wore on,...

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Smiley’s Files: Declassified MI5 files at the National Archives

Smiley’s Files: Declassified MI5 files at the National Archives

Looking through declassified MI5 files in the National Archives at Kew doesn’t feel a million miles away from being in a spy drama yourself. Whilst looking through the vast array of microfilm at a (potentially literal) murderer’s row of informants, targets and infiltrations, it feels almost perverse to not be...

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The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

Robert Harris, once Tony Blair’s answer to Squealer from “Animal Farm”, has spent nearly three decades as one of the acknowledged masters of the ‘intelligent thriller’. This is a strange literary subgenre, one that is defined by snobbishness as much as content. Thrillers, generally involving emotionally unavailable men and women...

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Pages from the Goncourt Journals

Pages from the Goncourt Journals

The Prix Goncourt is perhaps the biggest literary prize in France. First awarded in 1903, its stated intention is to uplift fledgling authors and provide them with the support to be able to write a second. Initially this ‘support’ was a hefty monetary reward, but as the prize’s reputation has...

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Once Upon A Time….In Hollywood

Once Upon A Time….In Hollywood

Quentin Tarantino is not broadly thought of as a thoughtful director. Whilst his films frequently overflow with obscure references to cult film ‘arcana’, this trait is generally assumed by his detractors to be the actions of a magpie savant as much as an auteur. In other words that Tarantino is...

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Too Old To Die Young: Nicholas Winding Refn and the strange rebirth of the auteur

Too Old To Die Young: Nicholas Winding Refn and the strange rebirth of the auteur

The established wisdom is that auteur driven cinema went out with the binary 1-2 punch of Heaven’s Gate and Star Wars. Heaven’s  Gate was the foundering of the old New Hollywood ideal, unthinkable millions spent on an hours long artistic vision that nobody wanted to watch, whilst Star Wars was...

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Beyond the Road at the Saatchi Gallery

Beyond the Road at the Saatchi Gallery

Presumably when the Gregorian chant first exploded onto the theological music scene in the 11th century, there were plenty of old monks moodily complaining about how these young monks were slaves to cynical marketing. Sentiments like ‘it’s not even music; the Old Roman Chant was a proper liturgical plainchant repertory,...

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