Behind the bar in my local pub, above the pork scratchings and jars of pickled mussels, is more preserved wildlife, a shelf of Victorian stuffed birds and rodents in glass boxes. No doubt the publican keeps these here to remind the punters of life’s fleeting nature and that they might as well get in another round while they can, but they set the place a bit apart from your All Bar One, and give soaks something to raise their glasses to.
David Garrick (1717–79) was widely acknowledged to be the greatest actor of his age, and he was also a successful businessman, managing the Drury Lane Theatre for nearly 30 years. He was broadly interested in the arts, wrote his own plays, and had many friends, among whom were some of the finest painters of the day. The exhibition Every Look Speaks: Portraits of David Garrick, mounted with much brio by the excellent Holburne Museum in Bath, and guest-curated by Desmond Shawe-Taylor, the director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, seeks to present Garrick in many guises and to suggest that in at least several cases the portraits of him were collaborations between artist and sitter.
Rachel Polonsky on the fight to save a private school that is threatened by Russia’s new cultural and economic thuggeryMoscow
In Britain, it is easy to forget what an important human freedom non-state education represents. In post-totalitarian Russia, where civil liberties are in first bud in a hostile climate, this recently regained freedom is menaced, not so much by state ideology as by the rampages of power and money unrestrained by an adequate legal system.
There is a piquancy. Back in 1997, Michael Howard launched a confident challenge for the Tory leadership. He had influential supporters, a good team and a strong case: that his experience and political stance made him the best qualified candidate. Yet his campaign never left the runway. The plane had too much baggage.
Suppose he had won. In organisational matters, he would have done a better job than William Hague.
The sound in the Grand Hall is like the chattering of sparrows. Milling at the door, most wearing bright yellow T-shirts with plasticky decals so big they practically double the weight of the cotton, are the domino sharks, kibitzing and waiting their turn for the tables. Inside, at the far end, a dais is decorated with an ascending series of enormous silver trophies. And filling the centre of the room, fenced off by the rows of trestle tables behind which spectators sit and holler encouragement, are dozens and dozens of tables of people playing dominoes.
A distinguished American writer reported after visiting Iraq: ‘The troops returning home are worried. “We’ve lost the peace,” men tell you. “We can’t make it stick.” Friend and foe alike look you accusingly in the face and tell you how bitterly disappointed they are in you as an American.... Instead of coming in with a bold plan of relief and reconstruction, we came in full of evasions and apologies.