Arts feature

Where the wild things are

‘What is man, that thou art mindful of him?’ asks the Psalmist. It’s a good question. God Himself doesn’t give a very satisfactory answer. In one breath he insists that humans are a little lower than the angels, made in His own image, but also (in a formulation as bleak and more terse than any

More from Arts

The woman who invented selfies

It took a while for Brigid and I to get to know each other, not to mention like each other. But then it was total lifelong devotion. At first, when I started out at Interview, in 1970, Brigid would give me The Glare, which was the negative equivalent of Nancy Reagan’s The Gaze. One or

Stuck on stucco

Whenever the words ‘stucco house’ appear in the newspapers, you can be certain the occupiers have been up to no good. The Russian kleptocrat in his stucco palace in Mayfair. The shamefaced prime minister seeking refuge in the stucco mansion of a party-donor chum. The disgraced wife-throttler with a stucco terrace in Eaton Square. In

Will the real Van Gogh please stand up

Vincent van Gogh spent a remarkably short span of time in the southern French town of Arles. The interval between him stepping off the train from Paris on 20 February 1888 and his departure for the asylum at Saint-Rémy on 8 May the following year was a scant 14-and-a-half months. For some of this time


Space oddity

One of David Bowie’s last works, Lazarus, is a musical based on Walter Tevis’s novel The Man Who Fell to Earth. Enda Walsh has written the script. The lead character, Newton, is a derelict celebrity addicted to gin who occupies a big brown apartment full of bickering attendants. It’s unclear who or what Newton is.


Another fine mess

I wonder why ENO has invested in a new production of Berg’s Lulu, when the previous one, which we first saw in 2002 and then in 2005, was so brilliant as to be virtually definitive. (Of course, that last word is anathema to operatic ‘creative’ teams, for obvious reasons.) Not that this new one, directed


Old stamping ground

If I tell you that on Monday there was an hour-long documentary about the history of stamp-collecting, then you probably don’t need this column’s usual bit in brackets saying which channel it was on. Indeed, at times Timeshift: Penny Blacks and Twopenny Blues seemed determined to be the most BBC4-like programme in the history of


Serious concerns

It’s funny, isn’t it, how a dust jacket on a book can draw you to it from the other end of a room — always supposing the illustration is by Edward Ardizzone. In fact, is there anything more suggestive of delight than a book illustrated by him? It’s the Midas touch even for unprepossessing authors.


About a boy | 17 November 2016

Indignation is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s 2008 novel and amazingly, for an adaptation of a Philip Roth novel — see the recent dog’s dinner that was American Pastoral, for example — it may even be worth two hours of your time. (Depending on what you would otherwise be doing with that time; I wouldn’t



Barbed wire, concrete, razor blades, passports, Bakelite and the sewage system are all crucial to the way we live now yet what do most of us know about who, when, how they were invented? In an ambitious new series for the World Service, 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy, Tim Harford intends to put