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Lines of beauty | 17 November 2007

The date of George Frederick Bodley’s death (1907) offers a partial explanation for a commemorative exhibition, but ‘comes the hour, comes the man’ also applies, and in this case the man is Michael Hall, the editor of Apollo magazine, who for some years has studied Bodley’s work and succeeded in presenting it as a key

Inspired and not-so-inspired

Reinhard Keiser is not a name that triggers many associations in most opera lovers’ minds, even the most frenzied devotees of the Baroque. He was a big figure in his time, though, and there have been odd recordings of his works, so he ranks with Traetta and Cimarosa from later in the 18th century as

A Buddhist bows out

One of the most gilded careers in our post-war musical life ends next week when Robert Tear sings in public for the last time. At least he thinks it will be the last time. ‘There’s nothing in the diary,’ he says. ‘But I’m not disappointed. After 50 years it is wonderful to be relieved of

Pistols pack a punch

‘Anyone in the building under 40?’ asks Johnny Rotten. Yes, I am (just): and, by the looks of things, about 20 others among 3,000-odd punters at the Brixton Academy, come to see the Sex Pistols in their middle-aged prime. Punk isn’t dead. It just drives a people-carrier these days. But age cannot wither these amazing

A small jewel

Well, it’s not as good as Monica Ali’s book. I’m not convinced it does the book justice. I didn’t think it captures the book. Is it true to the book? And blah-de-blah-de-blah, but if you want my advice, which you should, as I am very good at advice: ditch the book. This is a film

Sweet sounds of the Seventies

Is there a more irritating figure in British public life than Richard Branson? The beard, the cuddly sweaters, the toothy grin, the self-advertisement, the torments of the damned involved in travelling on one of his trains or planes. No news story in recent weeks has cheered me up as much as the one about Branson

Hopeless propaganda

The Arsonists, Royal Court; The Giant, Hampstead; The Bicycle, MenKing’s Head   Strange happenings in theatreland. Three London playhouses have taken it into their heads to mount a sustained attack on the avant garde. Result â” carnage! Careers are in tatters. Reputations have been shredded. Some of these playwrights will never be seen again.

Conquests and coffins

One of the few certainties about Henry V is that every performance is a political act, or will certainly be read as such. On BBC2’s Newsnight Review the other day, Michael Gove wondered whether there’d been a single production since Olivier’s triumphalist film of 1944 that hadn’t been anti-war, anti-patriotic and anti-heroic. Although that isn’t

Hijacked by the people

The blogosphere is threatening to take over the airwaves and even the great Eddie Mair is feeling ruffled. Last Saturday, half an hour of PM, his five o’clock current affairs programme on Radio Four, was hijacked by ‘the people’. Instead of running straight through till six, Mair had to break off halfway through to launch

Blown away by Napoleon

For much of the summer my brother Dick spends his weekends either as a skirmisher with the Voltigeurs in Napoleon’s Grande Armée or depending on which side needs the extras as a redcoat of the 9th Regiment of Foot. He has frozen his balls off at the battle of Jena. He is fluent in complex