Archive for April, 2009

A documentary film first.  Afghan Star directed by Havana Marking, which won a prize at the 2009 Sundance Festival, told the extraordinary story of the introduction of an American Idol/X-Factor type show in Afghanistan. Music was banned by the Taliban and the producers of the show (Afghan Star) obviously faced considerable problems when they decided to try making an Afghan version. But it was a fantastic success with estimated figures of one-third of the Afghan population watching or voting via mobiles. (more…)


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An account of a couple of days out in April – both during a week of glorious weather. First to Compton Verney which we had been meaning to get to for years. Compton Verney is an Adam House in south-east Warwickshire, near the Oxfordshire. The house itself is a gem as one would expect, or I would expect anyway for he is by far my favourite architect, and the gardens by Capability Brown also vastly pleasing. (more…)

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Fiona McCarthy on Byron

I have just finished Fiona McCarthy’s biography Byron
Life and Legend (2002). I am not going to write at
any great length about this but will say that I found it
in general pretty disappointing. McCarthy’s particular
‘angle’ on B. is to stress the homosexual side of his
bi-sexuality. (more…)

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A current issue of great importance to me. The background to this is the Government’s desire to promote CBT as the one valid talking therapy, impose a single definition of ‘mental health’ (which means working) and attack Incapacity and other benefits. It is Orwellian in the true sense of the word because it involves the State getting involved in definitions what it may mean for any individual to be mentally ‘well’ or not. But the petition itself explains it much, much better than I can. It is at…


The initial signatories are not just psycho-therapists but include artists and novelists.

I cut and paste the petition’s introduction below… (more…)

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 It was at St Hilda’s 2007  (see https://movingtoyshop.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/st-hildas-2007/ ) that I heard Jill Paton Walsh discuss Q.D.Leavis’s attack on Dorothy L. Sayers and I have been meaning to find the article ever since; finally I got myself into Birmingham Central Library and obtained the relevant volume of Scrutiny – it is Volume 6,  Number 3 (December 1937) and takes the form of a review of Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon (although for practical purposes one might consider it either as a general critique of Sayers or a specific review of Gaudy Night). (more…)

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Moving Toyshop

 Ellen has very kindly pointed out to me that I have never really explained the title of my blog! A pretty daft omission but there you go.

The primary allusion comes from Pope’s Rape of The Lock, a favourite poem of mine ; the exact lines (from Canto 1) are as follows…

>>With varying Vanities, from ev’ry Part,
They shift the moving Toyshop of their Heart;
Where Wigs with Wigs, with Sword-knots Sword-knots strive,
Beaux banish Beaux, and Coaches Coaches drive.
This erring Mortals Levity may call,
Oh blind to Truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.<<

The sylphs are part of Pope’s fantastical mock-heroic creation who move the poem’s action.

The secondary allusion is to Edmund Crispin’s Golden Age mystery of the same name (1946) – and Crispin, a leading member of what I have recently seen very well described on the Golden Age list (see link right) as the ‘literary fantasist’ tradition, was in turn, of course, himself referring back to Pope.

So I hope that provides a long over-due explanation.

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The Tenway Junction

 I have just finished The Prime Minister, the fifth of Trollope’s six Palliser novels or sequence (I have been struggling to catch up with the Trollope-l reading schedule and am now within a few weeks of doing so!). Without going into any lengthy analysis of this great book I did want to just add a short comment on the magnificent chapter, entitled as above, in which Ferdinand Lopez, the book’s villain, commits suicide. (more…)

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