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Showing posts from March, 2012

Here we go again...

I no longer trust chronological auto/biographies. That's the conclusion I've reached through years of trying, and flailing around in, the writing of 'Joan's Book', or my Mum's story. I've just started on it anew, with the help of a mentor, who has emphasised - for a long time - that creative writing has to come from the right-side of the brain if it's to reach the right-side of the readers brains. Write right! It is hard, though. Of course it's bloody hard. Writing creatively is. (Those last two sentences were from my right side, I know.) I spend my working life writing left - corporate, measured, chronological. Writing from the left is the what. Writing from the right is the how. And whilst I still find writing from the right difficult, I speak from the right effortlessly. I have a powerful and emotive voice. The task, then, yes, we know. So I've started it again - I've had a fallow period since handing in my phd - actually it goes back fur…

Hirst - worse than manufactured pop

Art critic and former curator and head of galleries, Nigel Spalding, was yesterday reported as saying Damien Hirst is not an artist. Spalding coined the term 'con-art' to refer to much of contemporary conceptual art and installations. Singling out Hirst as the high-priest of self-promotion and money-grabbing, Spalding said that people will soon see that the Emperor has no clothes. 'His work' represented, Spalding contends, the sub-prime of the art market.

I like some contemporary conceptual art; it has made me think, but I've always felt Hirst to be distinctly lacking in talent. His work has never made me stop and stare - or think. It has not moved me in any way, except to wonder how many it does speak to. Spalding, of course, is not the first to proclaim Hirst as arch-blagger, although his remarks come as the critic gears up to promoting his book 'Sell all your Hirsts...' (that's not the full title, but you get the gist. Is Spalding engaging in his ow…

The weekend

The weekend, for anyone working all week, is the prize. Yet when it's here I find a certain level of anxiety appears: what will I do that makes me feel as though I've had a weekend, but which doesn't take all the weekend? For introverts this former point is important; we recharge our batteries alone, or at least, not through our social lives. How much time alone is needed? I find it to be at least a day. And then come Sunday there's the anxiety about facing the workload on Monday! The New Economics Foundation have brought out several reports over the past few years that attempts to put the person back at the top of the agenda, instead of 'the economy' and 'GDP' and 'productivity rates' etc. One of the things NEF calls for is a 21-hour week. This, they say, would ensure everyone who needs to be employed is and the fewer hours (3 days) would enable parents to spend more time with kids and the rest of us time to pursue 'other things'; the t…


The current issue of the London Review of Books (LRB) features the full text of a recently discovered story by Charlotte Bronte. L'Ingratitude, written not long after arriving in Brussels, under the instruction of Constantin Leger, is about an 'ingrate' rat. The piece, in French, starts off as many children's fables but ends on a note more akin to Grimm! Having spent its first night out in the cold, away from the paternal hearth, the rat freezes to death.

It reminded me of Branwell Bronte's fate, the brother who, like the rat of the tale, was educated by his father at home. Of course, with the story written in 1842, it was six years before Branwell would collapse and later die from tuberculosis - and not, as some seem to think, of addiction - although he had delved into those destructive pits, said to have been set off by the 'abandonment' of him by the married woman of the son he was tutoring, following the discovery of their affair by the husband. The Bro…

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth

I wrote a piece championing the writer Ethel Carnie Holdsworth for The Guardian. It's apt, given that Ethel's brand of feminism (working class) too often gets overlooked in the feminist discourse. Timely too, given today is International Women's Day.


Days and Nights in W12

Days and Nights in W12, by Jack Robinson, (CB Editions £7.99) is a hybrid beast. Each page features an image and an epigrammatic paragraph. Combined, it is an expert's topography of Notting Hill's poorer cousin, Shepherd's Bush - aka 'da bush'. Each page evoked a sense of poignancy, yet Robinson draws on his wide-ranging general knowledge that adds to this gem of a book. Of some of the images he supposes a character, a history, of the person or the item his lens has captured. Some of these are linked to other pages. It is almost like a short story per page; flash faction, perhaps? Whatever categories it belongs to - all or none - it is in a class of its own. More, please! Perhaps a wry look at Notting Hill or Holland Park?