It’s funny how things can puzzle you for years, until suddenly, someone else’s point of view provides the missing jigsaw piece. Talking about the forthcoming Wilfred Owen film, The Burying Party, with director Richard Weston, recently gave me a new perspective on one of Owen’s more obscure poems, Six o’clock on Princes Street, which I’ve never previously understood.
I’m sitting by myself in the Wetherspoons at Liverpool Lime Street station, in the pre-weekend hubbub of a humid Friday afternoon. There’s a poetry book on the table in front of me, a film script on my phone, and I’m waiting for a man I’ve never met to arrive on the London train. How did this happen? Continue reading
George Orwell (born Eric Blair on June 25th 1903) is probably one of my favourite twentieth century writers, not just for Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four, but also his political writing, essays, and lesser known novels (Coming up for Air and Keep the Aspidistra Flying are particularly good I think).
In honour of what would have been his 114th birthday, here are some of my favourite Orwell quotes:
On suburban life…
After all, what is a road like Ellesmere Road? Just a prison with the cells all in a row. A line of semi-detached torture chambers… in every one of those little stucco boxes there’s some poor bastard who’s never free except when he’s asleep and dreaming that he’s got the boss down the bottom of a well and is bunging lumps of coal at him.
Coming up for Air 1939 Continue reading
Every now and then I stumble across bits of Shakespeare which make me catch my breath with their brilliance. Here’s Mark Antony, lamenting Caesar’s murder and predicting bloody civil war and turmoil:
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man Continue reading
Moby Dick. Moby sodding Dick. I started this leviathan of a book (see what I did there?) back in March, and shared some thoughts about it in a post a few weeks ago. I’d set myself the target of finishing it “by the summer”. So much for that. I’ve barely managed another 30 pages since then, and it’s June the day after tomorrow, which is summer by anybody’s reckoning. I’m getting nowhere fast.
One of the things I love about Helen’s weekly prompt to share a song is the glimpse it gives me into the lives of people in different countries. This week’s theme – a song about the armed forces – is inspired by the fact that it’s Memorial Day in the United States. I’d never heard of this before, but thanks to Helen and Wikipedia I now know that it’s a federal holiday at the end of May to honour those who died while serving in the armed forces. Continue reading
I started reading Moby Dick recently. So far I can’t decide whether I’m gripped by it or just overwhelmed. Melville’s style is like nothing I’ve ever encountered before, and it’s certainly not particularly accessible, but every few pages he blows me away with the strange, rugged beauty of his writing. Take this for example – how many alliterative pairs does he throw into this sentence? And yet it works. Continue reading