Wednesday, December 22, 2010

E'en so here below below

....let steeple bells be swungen etc.

A year is a long time in blogging, and this has very much been a year of two halves on Think of England, halves which we can describe as pre- and post-Dabbler.

Pre-Dabbler, we were swinging along in riproaring fashion. We confronted Tuesday and Mary Beard, sought out the refugees of relative poverty and let loose a blast of the trumpet against the Indecent Left. We examined the Local Character's Zen Bones and the John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood plot thickened.

We learned that the Dungeness Crab is the official state crustacean of Oregon and that every charity shop is obliged by law to stock Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Cupcakes finally jumped the shark and 'jumped the shark' went to Prestatyn. I explained the origins of all sports, discovered a telescope poem, made some films about piglets and had a doss. Obama insulted us, fanatics frightened us.

We had prose poems from a paperblog nutter and Ilfracombe, hungover, and wrote the hit song A Man’s Gotta Do A Dirty Job Sometimes. We correctly identified the fifth and sixth seasons and spotted a Henry Moore potato and some dead animals. Poached eggs! In June I unleashed Chief Trading Post on an unsuspecting world and ludicrously over-analysed my own poem about Boris 'Vuvuzela' Johnson, got tied to the toilet while talking to myself and bought a lobster mug.

And then The Dabbler happened, and poor old Think of England inevitably became a series of pointy signposts to that, interspersed with the odd thing about King Wu of Zhou or Duffy.

Nonetheless, TofE continues, TofE endures. Have a good Christmas, make sure you read the Dabbler's mighty five-post Christmas Compendium, and, as ever, listen to what the Baked Potato say.

See you on the other side.

My abnormality tolerance index

is being severely tested by this snow and ice business...

But over there I wallow in Phil Spector's Christmas Gift For You.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Arnolfini portrait

Yesterday at the Dabbler I examined Van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait.

Look out for Adelephant's fiendish quiz question there later today...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fiendish quiz

Over at The Dabbler, the latest fiendish Round Blogworld Quiz is in full swing...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bath Ales

Over at The Dabbler I interview the MD of Bath Ales, creators of Gem.

Oh and the other day I posted on Degas, Velazquez and nudes.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Prophecy of a Ten Ton Cheese

Busy, busy...but over at The Dabbler I have posted on James McIntyre, the Cheese Poet.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Over at The D I conclude our special Germany day (Wehrmacht Wednesday? - no, best not) with a look at the tolerably horrible Messerchmidt 'Character Heads'.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Gustave Verbeek

Over at The Dabbler I post on the extraordinary upside-down cartoonist Gustave Verbeek.

Aussie Walloping

It would be remiss of this blog not to note England's near-unprecedented annihilation of Australia in Adelaide, but this year I'm 'doing the Ashes' over at The Old Batsman.

Over there, Jon is supplying pithy daily reports, and we've even cooked up an idea for an exciting TV series - a cricket-based sleuthing drama with the Steve Bruce-inspired title Batting Allrounder!

Happy days.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Quiz time

Over at The Dabbler I set the latest fiendish Round Blogworld brainteaser...

Friday, December 03, 2010

Wikileaks 2

Good article by David Aaranovitch in today's Times. It's behind the paywall so to summarise:

- confounding expectations, the Bradley Manning wikileaks prove that the US is on the side of liberty

- since they can't be construed by the anti-yank left as proving 'Bad America', they will be construed as proving 'Spent America'

Or as Aaranovitch puts it: We will be told that, properly interpreted, the WikiLeaks splurge shows how weakened the US is in the era of China, multipolarity and economic crisis. How it simply cannot do in the future what it did in the past. The suggested lesson in this is usually for the US to retreat still farther from close engagement in the affairs of the world, and leave them to Beijing, Hezbollah or (alas) Mullah Omar. Beware this latest manifestation of America-knocking.

Red Ken was trying to prove Bad America on last night's Question Time of course. The idiots clapped.

The Joshua Tree

I caught a bit of a Sky Arts Classic Albums documentary about the making of U2’s The Joshua Tree the other night. It was nicely done and Bono even said some interesting things.

I’m not sure that The Joshua Tree is in the very top rank of great albums but it has probably the best opening Crash Bang Wallop I can think of.

When that lovely understated jingle-jangle outro of track three fades out, weirdo fourth track Bullet the Blue Sky more-or-less says: “Ok, that was what you bought it for, you can turn this album off now if you want.”

Overfamiliarity with Where the Streets Have No Name (crash), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (bang) and - the wallop - With or Without You has dulled the structural strangeness of those songs, but there’s none better for howling in strained falsetto, the nostalgic tears bulging in their ducts, as one drives one’s Ford through the frosted fields and thin sunshine of this bleak, ageing planet.

More equal than others

Watching Question Time last night, in the usual wincing, groaning, masochistic way, a disturbingly elitist thought came to me, and try as I might, I couldn't shake it off.

There are three clear intellectual classes on Question Time:

1) The small class of people who, for all whatever faults they might have, can handle the possibility that an issue might be complex, with no single easy solution, but nonetheless can make a reasonable judgement about it and say something worthwhile (on last night QT: Danny Alexander, Sir Christopher Meyer) . They never get clapped.

2) The slightly less small class of people who can handle the possibility that an issue might be complex but can't make a reasonable judgement about it nor say much worthwhile (Tory MP Nadine Dorries, Ken Livingstone, John Sergeant, Dimblebobble himself) . They elicit claps.

3) Idiots (all the people who go along to watch Question Time and clap).

Thursday, December 02, 2010

You schmooze you lose

"Come on lads, schmooze! Schmooze like you've never schmoozed before!" cried Cameron, rallyingly.

But alas the last desperate Schmooze Offensive by Cam, Becks and Will was in vain, as the Russkies bought won the 2018 World Cup.

I don't think we should bother again. All that toadying to the fool Sepp Blatter (I always get him mentally mixed up with Silvio Berlusconi) and the various corrupt foopball types is very undignified.