We're over it

18 August 2012

‘I’m over it!’ With three petulant words, a humiliated Julia Gillard attempted to shrug off responsibility for one of the most shameful, spiteful and sickening episodes in Australian immigration history.… Read more

18 August 2012

The Free Syrian Army will sooner or later overthrow the Assad regime. The Islamists and the Sunni majority will then wreak a savage revenge on their old oppressors. Do not… Read more

Diary Australia 18 August 2012

18 August 2012

Ultimately, all diaries are a road trip. Sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, sometimes both. This one is no different. It is both. •••  I left Melbourne (where I’m working at the… Read more

A rocky marriage

18 August 2012

It could have been one of the great events in the Australian theatre calendar. Marion Potts, artistic director of the Malthouse, was directing one of the great dramatic masterpieces of… Read more


Bourne again

18 August 2012
The Bourne Legacy Nationwide

Seriously, what has Hollywood got against wolves at the moment? First there was last year’s The Grey, which saw a bearded Liam Neeson stalked across Alaska by a pack of… Read more

Glorious Grieg

18 August 2012

Eternally fresh. That’s how Grieg’s Piano Concerto is described by programme notes, Classic FM, etc. Though, to be honest, eternally stale is nearer the mark. No 19th-century warhorse has been… Read more

Walk on the wild side

18 August 2012

A good title works wonders at the Edinburgh Fringe. Oliver Reed: Wild Thing (Gilded Balloon) has a simple and succinct name that promises excitement, drama and celebrity gossip. And it… Read more


Double vision

18 August 2012

If you were to condense everything that was most quintessentially English about quintessential Englishness — from the green man and morris dancing to Vaughan Williams and The Whitsun Weddings —… Read more


Faustian pact

18 August 2012

When my kids grow up, I want them to go to university and read chemistry. That way they will have the skills to manufacture high-class crystal meth (or similar), make… Read more


Brief encounter

18 August 2012
Ravel double bill Glyndebourne

Glyndebourne’s last offering this season is one of the most stylish things it has done for a very long time, Ravel’s two brief operas directed by Laurent Pelly, who was… Read more


Slow art

18 August 2012
From Paris: A Taste for Impressionism|Mantegna to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Courtauld Gallery Royal Academy|Courtauld Gallery

With the death of the critic and historian Robert Hughes, a great beacon has gone out in the art world of the West. I take his absence personally, not because… Read more


Follow that dream

18 August 2012

‘Our fate lies within ourselves. We just have to be brave enough to see it,’ says Princess Merida, the winsome, feisty heroine of Disney-Pixar’s latest animated romp Brave (PG, nationwide).… Read more

Human stories

18 August 2012

‘The aggregation of marginal gains’ is the key to success, according to Dave Brailsford, the extraordinarily successful cycling coach to Team GB. You could say that’s been the motto of… Read more


Bertie: A Life of Edward VII, by Jane Ridley

18 August 2012
Bertie: A Life of Edward VII Jane Ridley

Chatto & Windus, pp.624, 30, ISBN: 9780701176143

This book deserves to be named in the same breath as those two great classics of royal biography, Roger Fulford’s Royal Dukes and James Pope-Hennessy’s Queen Mary. It shares with… Read more

Umbrella, by Will Self

18 August 2012
Umbrella Will Self

Bloomsbury, pp.397, 18.99, ISBN: 9781408820148

James Joyce once described Ulysses — in dog Italian — as a ‘maledettisimo romanzaccione’, or monstrously big novel. It has come to stand as a modernist masterpiece, and also the… Read more


Bookends: The Saint Zita Society, by Ruth Rendell

18 August 2012

Sometimes it seems as if Ruth Rendell’s heart just isn’t in all that killing any more. Certainly, her latest book, The Saint Zita Society (Hutchinson, £12.99), works best as a… Read more


The First Crusade, by Peter Frankopan

18 August 2012
The First Crusade: The Call from the East Peter Frankopan

Bodley Head, pp.282, 20, ISBN: 9781847921550

Perhaps more than any other single historical event, the First Crusade (1096-99) lends itself to the narrative technique. This was the quest — and a successful one — on the… Read more

National Service, by Colin Shindler

18 August 2012
National Service: From Aldershot to Aden, Tales of Conscripts 1946-62 Colin Shindler

Sphere, pp.352, 16.99, ISBN: 9781847444844

For over 15 years after the second world war young men between the ages of 18 and 20 were conscripted by law to serve in Britain’s armed forces for two… Read more


Occupation Diaries, by Raja Shehadeh

18 August 2012
Occupation Diaries Raja Shehadeh

Profile Books, pp.154, 12.99, ISBN: 9781781250167

A group of friends, Palestinian and foreign, go to picnic at a wadi between Jerusalem and Jericho. They are wearing bright, casual summer clothes. On a nearby rock sits another… Read more

The Daylight Gate, by Jeanette Winterson Claudia FitzHerbert

18 August 2012
The Daylight Gate Jeanette Winterson

Hammer, pp.225, 9.99, ISBN: 9780099561859

The story of the Pendle witch trials in 1612 is well known, thanks to the publication of The Wonderfull Disoverie of Witches in Lancashire by Thomas Potts, clerk to the… Read more

Even the Dogs, by Jon McGregor

18 August 2012
Even the Dogs Jon McGregor, read by Dean Williamson, 7 hours

Whole Story Audio, 13.96

Jon McGregor’s debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002 and won both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award in… Read more


My Dear Governess, edited by Irene Goldman Price

18 August 2012
My Dear Governess Irene Goldman Price

Yale, pp.296, 18.99, ISBN: 9780300169898

‘I have finished Julius Caesar since I last wrote & I cannot say that it left a very glowing impression on me. It was too much like my own earliest… Read more

Being Sam Frears, by Mary Mount

18 August 2012
Being Sam Frears Mary Mount

Penguin Special, ebook, pp.45, 1.99

Sam Frears is 40. He has an extremely rare condition called familial dysautonomia, or Riley-Day syndrome; the life expectancy for most babies born with this is five years. Mary Mount… Read more


A Decade at the Donmar, 2002-2012, by Michael Grandage

18 August 2012
A Decade at the Donmar, 2002-2012 Michael Grandage

Constable, pp.227, 50, ISBN: 9781780335445

Here’s a picture book that triumphantly exceeds the narrow bounds of the coffee-table genre. At £50 it’s hardly an impulse buy, but the photographs, covering Michael Grandage’s ten years in… Read more

12/00/2002. EXCLUSIVE: Ascent of Mars mountain.

Let us enjoy peace on Mars while we still can

18 August 2012

There are some things to be said in favour of the planet Mars. Its atmosphere contains almost no oxygen, the temperature in winter reaches minus 143˚C, it is exceptionally arid… Read more