Crowded house

In ‘Poetry of Departures’, in which Philip Larkin imagines escaping his existence as a librarian for a life of wild daring and adventure, he writes: We all hate home And having to be there; I detest my room, It’s specially-chosen junk, the good books, the good bed. In ‘Poetry of Departures’, in which Philip Larkin

Arts feature

Never say goodbye

Michael Henderson considers the perennial appeal of Bob Dylan Bob Dylan turns 70 next week, and from Duluth to Derby they will blow out the candles. The Minnesotan troubadour, who rolled into New York the year Kennedy became president, will pay no attention. As he wrote in one of his better songs, ‘Me, I’m still

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Incomparable Verdi

Call me biased, but I believe that my illustrious compatriot Giuseppe Verdi composed ballet music like no one else. It is a pity he never felt like penning a full ballet score, and limited himself to composing balletic interludes for his glorious operas. As demonstrated by the work of eminent scholars, he possessed the unique


Family at war | 21 May 2011

Edward Albee doesn’t like the word ‘revival’. His plays aren’t dead, he says, just lurking. His 1966 drama A Delicate Balance has been coaxed back into the limelight by James Macdonald in a sumptuous new version starring Penelope Wilton and Imelda Staunton. Edward Albee doesn’t like the word ‘revival’. His plays aren’t dead, he says,


Spark of the divine

With its new production of Janácek’s last and in some ways most intractable opera, From the House of the Dead, Opera North shows once more that it is the most intelligently adventurous company in the UK, using its money where it is most needed: not on elaborate and perverse staging, but on high-class soloists and


Big Brother Beeb

For the past few weeks, unnoticed by all but the most sharp-eyed critics, BBC1 has been running a Celebrate Communitarianism season. The first programmes were: Envy of the World!!!, in which children at Great Ormond Street hospital spent a week being forcibly denied vital drug treatment. Then, in a touching scene right at the end,


Wit of a hunter-gatherer

Over the years Chris Beetles must have made the pencil-wielding fingers of Quentin Blake and Ronald Searle itch with a desire to draw him. He presents a vigorously compact figure, possesses a pair of appropriately beetling brows sheltering an extremely shrewd gaze and sports an unabashedly splendid set of bugger’s grips. Standing in the doorway

All things bright and beautiful

Beauty is generally considered old-fashioned by the young and not-so-young bloods of contemporary culture, so an exhibition appealing unashamedly to the aesthetically refined will not seduce the practitioners of sensationalism, bad taste and ever more self-indulgent and feeble art. But it will appeal to a public fed up with the empty, egomaniacal posturings of today’s

Read all about it

As newspapers are consulted increasingly on screen, and newsprint is all set to become a thing of the past, artists are turning their attention to this endangered medium. The Irish Expressionist painter Michael Kane (born 1935) has produced a provocative series of 100 paintings in ink, acrylic paint and collage, done on newsprint magazine pages


Guilt trip

Win Win is a comedy-drama that is warm-hearted and compassionate and enjoyable without, alas, being especially remarkable or original, which is a bit of a blow but I think you’ll get over it, with bed rest and time. Win Win is a comedy-drama that is warm-hearted and compassionate and enjoyable without, alas, being especially remarkable


Object lesson

What are we supposed to make of those odd pictures of Osama bin Laden sitting crouched in a dingy, undecorated concrete room watching something blurred on a small TV screen? Is this really the face of jihadist evil? These were the questions behind this week’s provoking 15-minute drama in the From Fact to Fiction slot