A regular spot to share some ideas about what’s good and what’s not on the interwebthingy. But, you know, it’s your life, so feel free to agree, disagree or ignore what follows.
What caught my attention last week
Resting Not In Peace
Philip Larkin, the supremely grumpy English poet, will soon have a flagstone in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner. The Economist notes the many ironies involved in the news, such as his disdain of many other writers there, and his view of the Bible: “It’s absolute balls. Beautiful, of course. But balls.”
Unhappiness was always Larkin’s bailiwick—he revelled in it. Deprivation, as he once said, was his daffodils. This state certainly inspired him to write some of the simplest and most beautiful poetry in the English language. Who else but this old misery guts could discern that spring’s “greenness is a kind of grief”? Or depict death as an “anaesthetic from which none come round”? In this light his new companions couldn’t be more perfect.
Remembering Hitch Remembering
When Christopher Hitchens died in 2011 he left a dreadful dead hole in my reading habit, which I resolve by re-reading.
In this Vanity Fair excerpt from his 2010 memoir Hitch-22, Hitchens waspishly recounts the course of his friendship with the novelist Martin Amis. The carpet is littered with dropped names (Kingsley Amis, Robert Conquest, Terry Kilmartin, James Fenton), not for the effect, but as a genuine record of his remarkable range and connection. There is, for example, the party given for the publication of Amis junior’s first novel, The Rachel Papers:
Then there was Clive James, dressed as usual like someone who had assembled his wardrobe in the pitch-dark, but always “on” and always awash in cross-references and apt allusions.
It also includes the tale of how he was smacked on the bottom by Margaret Thatcher and called a “naughty boy”.
How I miss him.
Far, Far Away
Mission control won’t know for a further 13 hours whether the whole thing worked or not, but after that we might get some nice Solar System selfies.
Space geeks should click here for Nature‘s pdf poster of the event.
What I’m Trying To Ignore Next Week
Socialites and celebrities saying stupid things on Twitter. There’s just not enough time in the universe to keep up with it all.