Can you spot which “erotic scene” is written by Will Self?
‘I don’t know if I’m going to be able to convey – surely the apposite word – the full extent of my love of the London tube. It’s a love that exists prior to any sense I have of an estrangement from the world – I suppose if I were inclined to all that Freudian malarkey I’d say that the tube is not “other” to me, for it – or possibly she – is no mere transitional object, but my very internalisation of Mother London herself. Let me expand: I grew up about 10 minutes’ walk from East Finchley tube station, and I cannot properly remember a time when I didn’t travel by tube. That said, the first regular journeys I clearly remember were when, aged about eight, I began going to school in Hampstead. My older brother and I would travel the five stops to Camden Town, change to the northbound Edgware platform, and go the further three stops to Hampstead. A more direct route was to take the 102 bus to Golders Green, but while I liked the 102 well enough – and especially the breakneck plunge from the back platform as the Routemaster caromed on to the station forecourt – I loved the tube.’
“The truth is that the pictures are almost insufferably dull. If you’re a monarchist you’d be better off staying at home, painting a Union flag on your living room wall and watching it dry than venturing out to see this tat. And the principal reason why the images are so banal and uninteresting is because, gasp, nobody – least of all the artists and photographers who confected them – knows the sitter at all well … these snappers and daubers have difficulty with depicting the Queen’s personality, because – gulp! – she’s a perfectly ordinary, rather uncultured, rather sporty, elderly upper-class Englishwoman, who just happens to be a monarch. In two words: she’s boring.”
“Years ago I appeared on Newsnight with Jacob Rees-Mogg and we had a little barney – I think I accused him of being both a snob and a nob, and he, taking umbrage, asked me to explain what defined these derogatory appellations. I think I told him that it all basically came down to cufflinks; that in the great index of social classification – inscribed up there on a Laputa-like cloudly domain – the wearing of cufflinks really marked a man off as a snob and a nob.
“Daniel Franklin, the executive editor and business affairs editor at the Economist, is a tentative chap for a prognosticator. As well as editing this round-up of seers’ views of the four decades ahead, he and his co-editor John Andrews are also responsible for the Economist’s annual publication on the coming year ‘The World in …’. Perhaps it’s this workaday familiarity with the imperfections of futurology that makes Franklin so keen to distance himself from any great likelihood of being right.
“Robert Lockhart, who has died aged 52 after a heart attack, was a musician to the tips of his nimble – and invariably heavily nicotine-stained – fingers. A piano virtuoso, he retired from concert performance early in his career to concentrate on composition, and became both an eclectic and effective composer for theatre, film and television, as well as creating freestanding works for ensembles ranging from the string quartet to the brass band.
“An unashamedly ‘pre-sampling’ composer, Lockhart savoured working with musicians above all else, and his flair for arranging and conducting in the studio ensured him a steady stream of commissions which, although often requiring only workmanlike undertones, his often deeply personal music frequently managed to soar high above.
“Without a shadow of doubt Trafalgar Square has to be one of the most crap urban public spaces in the world. The fact that massed divisions of tourists feel compelled to ritually promenade across its pigeon-shat-upon York stone and head-banging granite is perverse in the extreme, because it’s not so much a place to hang out as somewhere you feel constantly in danger of being hung for treason, such is the discourse of power enshrined in its leonine and general-studded plinths and its admiral-spiked column.”
Read the rest of the article in Guardian Travel here.
“From time to time, as if heaven-sent to annoy, someone will ask me if I’m self-disciplined when it comes to my work. I usually look witheringly at them and snarl, ‘What do you think? I mean, how do you imagine anyone writes a quarter of a million words a year for publication?’ The hapless fools then mutter about inspiration or some such rot before turning tail and fleeing. Good riddance. The life of the professional writer – like that of any freelance, whether she be a plumber or a podiatrist – is predicated on willpower. Without it there simply wouldn’t be any remuneration, period.
“A few years ago, charged with writing a new introduction to a 25th-anniversary edition of Riddley Walker, I called the author, Russell Hoban, at his behest. A frail-sounding voice answered the phone, and when I explained who I was, Hoban fluted: ‘Would you mind calling back in half an hour or so? My wife and I are about to watch Sex and the City.’ I put the receiver down chastened: here was a man in his 80s who had more joie de vivre than I could muster in hale middle age.