I can’t get no Satiesfaction

After peaking at around the tenth instalment, birthday celebrations get progressively less interesting, for their subjects at least. I remember the lunch we held for my great-aunt Winnie’s 100th birthday. It was a jolly affair and she received the toast with a fine speech of thanks. When the cheering subsided, she delivered the speech again,

Arts feature

Death of the auteur

From the Oscar winning classics of the early Seventies — The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973) — to the southern trailer trash noir Killer Joe (2011), William Friedkin has been behind some of the darkest films ever to come out of Hollywood. He has also had a famously bumpy career, careening from great

More from Arts

Double trouble | 7 July 2016

The Bolshoi Ballet’s wunderkind ballerina Natalia Osipova defied received wisdom when, in 2012, she cast off from the great Moscow company with her equally prodigious then boyfriend and partner Ivan Vasiliev to go freelance. Without the Bolshoi’s unmatched support system, its coaching and opportunities, its reputation behind her, protested the Russian media, how could she


Friel good factor

Does anyone believe Brian Friel’s libellous blarney? He portrays Ireland in the 20th century as an economic basket case where the starving, the retarded, the crippled and the widowed offer up prayers to a heartless God who responds by heaping their burden ever higher. Friel is popular with British mainlanders who are tickled by the


Fifty shades of grey

Grey men in grey overcoats walking through grey architecture. If you had to pick an image to reflect the current mood, the prevailing fashion in opera productions, this would be it. We may have outgrown the overtly Nazi settings of a few years back, but stepping into their highly polished boots are a whole platoon


And your point, Professor?

Pop idol turned top boffin Brian Cox doesn’t shy away from the big issues. With programmes such as Wonders of the Solar System, Wonders of Life and Human Universe, Cox, the heir apparent to His Eminence Sir David Attenborough, has dared to dream on a cosmic scale. Are there any limits to his mighty intellect?


Echoes of Italy

‘Hidden beauty is best (half seen), faces turned away.’ So noted a young English painter named Winifred Knights in 1924. Until recently, the power of her own work has been thoroughly concealed. After her death in 1947, indeed even before it, Knights was forgotten. By the 1950s her reputation had sunk so completely that both


Erectile dysfunction

Anthony Weiner is the American politician who made a comeback after a sexting scandal and stood for New York mayor. He was topping the polls, when a second sexting scandal broke, which proves what, probably, none of us had suspected all along: that thing you do where you send women pictures of your erect penis


Accentuate the positive | 7 July 2016

Fifty years ago on Monday the World Service programme Outlook was launched as an innovative news and current affairs programme presented ‘magazine style’ with live interviews featuring ‘star’ guests. Such ‘soft’ journalism was highly suspect back in 1966, as England won the World Cup, Russia landed the Lunar 9 mission on the moon and China