The musical Cats reopened in the West End in December, with a judge from The X Factor in the lead role. The music is by Andrew Lloyd Webber and the songs are, of course, by T.S. Eliot. Eliot died 50 years ago this year, and retains a curious kind of fame, which encompasses West End musicals and scholarly collections of his letters, lovingly published by Faber (most recently, Volume 5: 1930–1931. At 800 pages, this is for true Eliot-fanciers only). In 1948, a line from one of his poems was used in an ad for Esso petrol (‘Time future contained in time past’). In 1956, he gave a lecture on literary criticism in a baseball stadium in Minnesota, and 14,000 people turned up to listen. He was and remains a strange, paradoxical figure: a famous serious poet.