Christopher Hawtree

Sheen of authenticity

In 2006, after five decades, Shaun Greenhalgh lost his enthusiasm for the British Museum. From a very early age, he had been inspired by its contents to a profitable and diverse career in art forgery from his Bolton garden shed. A teenage talent for faking Victoriana had led him on to make an array of

Ripeness is all

‘Blessed are the cheesemakers.’ The line from Life of Brian is followed by: ‘It’s not meant to be taken literally. It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products.’ In fact, cheese animates the Bible and — building on Job’s searing image of the womb — its coagulation became an emblem of the Immaculate Conception, endorsed

Park life

Petrichor. Coined as recently as 1964 but redolent of Eden onwards, the word appears in neither of these volumes but they are suffused with it. In denoting that tang which arises after rain has fallen upon dry ground, petrichor can make a stroll through park or hillside headier than any parfumier’s establishment. Down the centuries,

The great inscape

‘I am 12 miles from a lemon,’ lamented that bon vivant clergyman Sydney Smith on reaching one country posting. He was related to Gerard Manley Hopkins, a priest who, in the popular imagination, would quite possibly balk at the offer of a lemon. After all, 30 years before Prufrock, Hopkins did not dare to eat

The nature of belonging

‘I nauseate walking; ’tis a country diversion. I loathe the country and everything that relates to it… Ah l’étourdie! I hate the town too.’ Millamant’s expostulation about the unresolved pull between rural and urban life has echoed down three centuries since The Way of the World. With Melissa Harrison’s second novel this quandary brings all