Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

Last week a friend alerted me to the imminence of ‘Blue Monday’ – the third Monday of January, believed by some to be the most depressing day of the year. With the current state of uncertainty, that’s an even more dubious superstition than it has been in the past, but since I fully accept that … Continue reading Brighteners for ‘Blue Monday’: a dozen sources of pleasure

Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

In the few years I’ve been posting best-of blogs in the face of worsening political circumstances, I’ve often expressed a rather forlorn hope that things might improve the following year. Well, it turns out, obviously, that the hope I expressed last year could not have been more forlorn. How terrible 2020 has been… not only … Continue reading Best of a bad year: movies, music and other highlights of 2020

My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

This time last year, in introducing the lists of my favourite films, music, etc, etc of 2018, I expressed the admittedly somewhat forlorn hope that 2019 would give us less reason to have to seek solace in such things, and that peace, tolerance and reason would prevail. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way, … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2019

Félix Vallotton: a remarkable artist you may not even have heard of (I hadn’t)

To be absolutely honest, I wasn’t really aware of Félix Vallotton, let alone of any of his pictures, until very recently. A few years ago I read ‘Keeping an Eye Open’, Julian Barnes’ excellent collection of essays on (mostly French) art, but his chapter on Vallotton hadn’t really stayed with me simply because, apart from … Continue reading Félix Vallotton: a remarkable artist you may not even have heard of (I hadn’t)

My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

When, around this time last year, I posted my round-up of my favourite movies, music and so on of 2017, I felt the need to say what a difference the arts had made for me in a time of depressing political confusion and chaos. I’m not going to kick off another rant this year, even … Continue reading My best movies, music and other moments from 2018

My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

What with the depressing political mess we found ourselves in throughout 2017, which tended to privilege prejudice over reason, brazen deceit over factual truths, personal profit over compassion for others, and the short-term gains of the present over the long-term requirements of the future, it could be difficult to find cause for hope. But that … Continue reading My Best Moments of 2017: films, music and other stuff…

My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)

You certainly don’t need me to remind you that 2016 was in many respects a terrible year – an annus anus, so to speak – and an extremely worrying one in terms of what we may expect of 2017 and thereafter. And I am not going to darken your mood still further by listing the many greats who passed … Continue reading My year in movies, music and books (what I liked best, anyway)