Jane Bown, self-portrait, c 1986 ‘I was terrified, I don’t think I even knew who he was. But the light was good …’ That was the photographer Jane Bown who died yesterday, speaking of her first commission for the Observer in 1949 – a portrait of the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Her words, writes Luke Dodds … Continue reading Jane Bown: looking for the light
What you looking at me for? I didn’t come to stay… So, in the space of six months two beacons of justice and equality have flickered out. First Nelson Mandela, now Maya Angelou. Confirming her death today, Maya Angelou’s son said: ‘She lived a life as a teacher, activist, artist and human being. She was a … Continue reading Maya Angelou: do not be wedded forever to fear
Stuart Hall Sad news today of the death of Staurt Hall, a giant force in post-war intellectual life on the left in Britain. Born in Kingston into an aspiring Jamaican family, Hall received a classical English education in Kingston before winning a Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford University. Hall arrived in Britain in 1951, … Continue reading Remembering Stuart Hall and The Unfinished Conversation
Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I’ll dig with it. – from Digging, 1966 And he did. From 1965, when Death of a Naturalist, the collection that contained Digging, to his death on 30 August 2013 Seamus Heaney dug with his pen into the rich loam of experience, history and memory … Continue reading Seamus Heaney: Out of the Marvellous
For those of us who followed The Sopranos through 86 episodes from 1999 to 2007, news that James Gandolfini has died at the cruelly young age of 51 is sad indeed. The quality of the writing in that series was matched by acting of the highest order, not least from Gandolfini who managed to portray … Continue reading James Gandolfini: ‘one in a million’
‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.’ If you want proof of LP Hartley’s dictum, listen to the audio clip ‘Introduction to Listen With Mother’ on this page. The time is a quarter to two. This is the BBC Light Programme for mothers and children at home. Are you ready for … Continue reading A madeleine for you: Are you sitting comfortably?
Let’s raise a glass to Dave Brubeck who died on 5 December, the day before his 92nd birthday. Brubeck was the first serious jazz musician to register on my radar as a teenager whose musical horizons in the early sixties were shaped by the hit parade and Radio Luxembourg. It was ‘Take Five’ that broke through, … Continue reading Dave Brubeck: the rhythm of your heart