Alan Wall

Heaven, hell and Northampton

A century ago, Sir Hubert Parry set Blake’s ‘Jerusalem’ to music. The lyric had been written 100 years earlier and was part of Blake’s desperate lament for the fallenness of England. What might have been the golden streets of a holy city was instead a place of mourning, the site of dark satanic mills. He

Safe for the kiddies

The Golden Age of Censorship by Paul Hoffman T. S. Eliot thought it a curiosity of our culture that we use the word ‘taboo’ purely negatively. The word ‘censor’ is surely similar: the notion that any person or society could survive for long without some forms of censorship is fatuous, and yet it is something

Glories of the silver screen

The anchoring memories of this novel go back to the second world war. That is where crucial people in the plot received their opportunities and their wounds. Less easy to fathom, for this reviewer anyway, was why most of the book seems to take place in the 1970s. Nothing much was done with this egregious

Spreading the good word

This is a remarkable novel. Written in a beautifully crafted prose, its theme is the resistance of China to Christianity. Missionaries, one of them of mixed blood, make their way into the mind and heartland of China, seeking to bring the good news of the crucified and resurrected Lord to those who are still devoted

Falstaff in a wig and gown

Rumpole is Falstaff on the right side of the law. He is rumbustious, shrewdly distrustful of authority and filled with substantial appetites others find gross. Leo McKern’s television incarnation was unforgettable; his face had been hardened by confronting the world’s absurdities and mangled by the rigorous pursuit of his own pleasure. One was reminded of