Olivia Glazebrook

Red for danger

‘Gentlemen prefer blondes,’ Anita Loos pronounced, ‘but gentlemen marry brunettes.’ Quite what they do with redheads she never revealed (and I’ve often wondered), but with Red: A Natural History of the Redhead, Jacky Colliss Harvey sets out to discover everything — what it takes to make a redhead, where in the world they come from

Exciting new ways of not writing a novel

I read that Damon Runyon, in New York in the 1930s, would get up at 1 p.m. for a breakfast of ‘fruit, broiled kidneys, toast and six cups of coffee’. Then he would read all the newspapers. Then he would bathe, shave, dress and go out for a long walk which would probably include some shopping

Schoenberg in shorts

For anyone who missed The Sound and the Fury (Tuesday, BBC4) here is a reason — one of many — to catch it on your iPlayer: footage of a fierce, frowning and elderly Stravinsky, sitting in the empty stalls of the Théâtre des Champs Elysées and recalling the ‘near-riot’ which greeted the first performance of

Ordinary people | 31 January 2013

There was little reason to be curious about David or Jackie Siegel at the beginning of Queen of Versailles (Monday, BBC4): he is the King of Timeshare and she is his Beauty Queen; they are building a palace in Florida, and modelling it on Versailles; it will be the biggest private home in America, when

Wodehouse to the rescue

I knew this would happen: I’ve been watching season five of Mad Men on DVD and it’s spoiled me for normal telly. If you notice increased levels of toxicity — dissatisfaction and disgruntlement — in the following grumblings, then Mad Men is the reason.  Nothing pleases me so much, you see, and I am likely

Insomniac’s heaven

If I wake up at too rude an hour to get up — before four o’clock, let’s say — Through the Night is my reward: I switch on the radio and find it to be inhabited not by humans but by music. This six-hour programme, which runs every night on Radio 3 from half-past 12

What the doctor ordered

I don’t know whose idea it was to put New Year at the beginning of January, but it seems like an odd one. Why not begin each new year on, let’s say, the first of April or May? It might bring at least a dash of new dawn-ishness — a flicker of sunlight, scampering clouds,

Food, glorious food

Despite a wet summer, the recent crop of food programmes has been prodigious: six episodes of Nigellissima, eight of Nigel Slater’s Dish Of The Day, six of Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy Food, 40 of Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals and 25 of Hugh’s Three Good Things — truly a basket of plenty. Two cooking competitions

Fame and fortune

Having planned to devote every one of this week’s 800 words to Sir David Attenborough’s 60 Years in the Wild (Friday, BBC2), I was distracted by fame, fortune and the politics of influence: Give Us the Money (Sunday, BBC4) and Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream (Tuesday, BBC4). Both these programmes I watched

Time trials

It’s amazing what can be squeezed into an hour of The Hour (Wednesday, BBC2): smutty photos, gang violence, bent coppers, illegal gambling, fascism, racism, a political cover-up, a media exposé, leaked documents, seduction, abuse, neglect, the corrupting temptations of celebrity, the corrupting temptations of complicated dessert recipes, a dog in space, the threat to the

The American way | 1 November 2012

To the Americas this week, and first to the land of the free and the home of the brave: Gay to Straight (Monday, BBC3) examined the practice of ‘gay conversion therapy’; Unreported World (Friday, Channel 4) investigated the political power of unregulated talk radio; and Inventing the Indians (Sunday, BBC4) explored the appropriation of the

Falling about and apart

One of the many pleasures of television is that it allows us to forget our manners: we can treat it with an impolite offhandedness that would not be considered sociable — or sensible — in the run of everyday life. This isn’t a vicarious enjoyment of bad behaviour that we see on screen, but an

Spy class

Hunted (Thursday, BBC1) made a terrific start, but whether the first episode has set the standard for the next seven is another matter — a thriller, after all, has a duty to overwhelm, seduce and deceive with its opening gambit. This series was not conceived by fluke: anyone with half an eye on Bond, Bourne,

Acid reign

You won’t believe me when I tell you this but I swear it’s the truth: until this week, I had never watched Downton Abbey(Sunday, ITV). Some old-fashioned notion about not respecting myself the morning after? A curious primness preventing me from just gritting my teeth and getting it over with? Yes to both — and

That’s entertainment

Comparisons may be odious but sometimes they are irresistible — and, frankly, more fool the BBC for screening Treasures of Ancient Rome on the same night as The Shock of the New (Monday, BBC4). Here is Alastair Sooke on the spread of the Roman Empire: ‘Rome’s generals romped around the Med, sacking cities willy-nilly…’ Here

Even the Dogs, by Jon McGregor

Jon McGregor’s debut, If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002 and won both the Betty Trask Prize and the Somerset Maugham Award in the following year. So Many Ways to Begin, his second novel, was on the Booker longlist in 2006 and last month his third book, Even

Please release me

I am writing this at teatime on Sunday — day nine of the Olympics. So far: 34 medals, we’ve all gone completely bananas, and the Great British mood has improved by what commentators call 110 per cent. Andy Murray has just won gold, beating Roger Federer in straight sets, and by the time I finish

Relaxing with the ignoble

Unless I have slept through another of the year’s once-in-a-lifetime experiences — which is rather more likely than possible — the days since the Wimbledon final have passed without call for bunting, cheering, spangling or any other kind of cross-gartered preparedness. We seem to occupy a lacuna; to have swum into the eye of the

Under pressure | 28 April 2012

Rest easy on your deckchair, Delingpole, for I come in peace. Your column is safe — from me, at least — because this week I have made an unpleasant discovery: your job is really hard, and I don’t know how to do it. It’s not the watching that’s so hellish, it’s deciding what to watch.