Disagree by all means but please don’t be disagreeable

“In Washington, you can disagree.  But you must not be disagreeable.” Anna Chennault   How apt these astute words are particularly in the current hostile political climate both domestically and globally.  And equally, how appropriate in life generally is this sentiment, not least in the anonymity of the social media swirl – surely this would be…

Lucien Freud and Francis Bacon – New exhibition at Tate Britain

Contrasting the Flesh of Freud against the Torment of Bacon “All Too Human – Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life” Having always been a fan of Lucien Freud’s portraits, it was not surprising to be delighted by the current collection on display at Tate Britain.  I counted 16 paintings in all by Freud…

Choosing One’s Path with Robert Frost

While walking Oscar in the woods, each time I reach this point I can hear the words of Robert Frost contemplating which path to take in life.  Of course this poem (see below) has a universal appeal and the imagery is powerful as well as accessible.  I particularly love the line “way leads on to…

Thomas Jefferson’s Ten Rules

  On this day, 22 March, more than 200 years ago, (1790) Thomas Jefferson became America’s first Secretary of State under President George Washington.  As one of the founding fathers and the author of the Declaration of Independence, he provided political and moral leadership at a critical time in America’s history. Today, amid the revolving…

An Antidote to Brexit – No Man is an Island

  Photo of bust of John Donne in the grounds of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London 4 December 2017   Sometimes it feels as though there will be no end to the Brexit disaster story, and perhaps there is a fundamental truth in that instinct but some days, I have to switch off entirely from the…

David Frum on Trump’s Corruption of America

  Trumpocracy – The Corruption of the American Republic by David Frum Earlier this month, I had the good fortune to be in Washington DC visiting family while David Frum was publicising his new book, Trumpocracy – The Corruption of the American Republic.   Frum was speaking at Politics & Prose which is not simply a bookshop…

Brexit and People Like Us (PLU)

  For anyone still interested in why the British public voted for Brexit, the extract below from the Financial Times last year in a letter from Mr Keith Craig, London SW7, perfectly encapsulates a complex set of circumstances into a pithy and succinct explanation.  You would be hard pressed to find anything better. Many would…

The Boarding School Girls

Reunited after 40 Years This was one of those rare enthralling phone calls jolting me out of my reverie and leaving me slightly befuddled for the rest of the evening yet it was a call that will be etched on my mind for a long time.  Hearing that instantly recognisable voice on the end of…

The Swagger of John Singer Sargent

‘The Great Gatsby Man’ To the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London this week to see the watercolours of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the American artist who spent much of his life travelling in Europe and the Middle East, that is….when he wasn’t painting portraits of wealthy Americans.  It’s fair to say that his oil portraits…

The Wisdom of Marcus Aurelius

*If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself but to your own estimate of it, and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.    Epictetus, one of the great proponents of Stoicism said something in a similar vein around A.D. 90,  i.e., events don’t…

Russia: We Drank Champagne in Vain

The American Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, a few days ago following the recent imposition of new UN sanctions on Russia.   Nevertheless, instead of closing the door on its relations with Russia, Tillerson promised to deal pragmatically with Moscow – whatever that may mean.  Perhaps similar to…

Hamlet by William Shakespeare

A brilliant production at the Harold Pinter theatre in London starring Andrew Scott.  Beg, borrow or steal a ticket! “Andrew Scott’s Hamlet is at pains to remind us that at the theatre we spy on ourselves”,  was the verdict by the Guardian’s Kate Kellaway. *********** Hamlet is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play and one that’s been…