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Past master

The lack of great dance-makers that characterises contemporary dance has prompted a number of reconstructions of long-lost ballets, often with questionable results. It is utterly refreshing, therefore, to see how Frederick Ashton could evoke the past without getting entangled in an artistically sterile quest for authenticity. Few people in the history of ballet had his

Enlightened philanthropy

Behind this exhibition is a story of fairytale success: of the 120 Welsh shipping firms that flourished early in the last century, two of which became Wales’s largest maritime company; of the merged wealth that flowed therefrom; and of the enlightened philanthropy of one man, John Morel Gibbs (1912–96), scion of both families, who saw

Welcome escape

Out of a cardboard box on the exhibition poster which heralds Christmas and welcomes visitors at the gates guarding the soothing lawns of the Dulwich Picture Gallery springs a typically Quentin Blake ensemble. There are two children, three dotty adults, one of them wearing ‘specs’, and a big dog. At the top of the poster,

Genteel ghetto

From time to time, people to whom I am introduced mishear and mistake me for a Guardian journalist. I can’t always quite be bothered to put them right. I am not ashamed of being a gardening writer — far from it — but my profession has, in recent years, become something of a genteel ghetto.

True courage

All last week I was in Holland with some of the splendid old boys of 4th Commando Brigade, commemorating their liberation of Walcheren island 60 years ago. I asked them whether they felt they’d benefited from their wartime experiences and most of them said yes. ‘When you’ve been through all that, you come out knowing