Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Great Regulars: 'Cal, my friend, are you all right?'

I had passed my hand over my brow and closed my eyes, interrupting Stead's monologue. I had been, somewhere beyond any conscious strategy, concealing the bad manners of reaching for my notebook. Stead's eyes, even when, as now, gazing at me in concern, seem fixed on something beyond as if seeing through me--their clarity and penetration forming a sharp contrast with the man's general dishevelment. This face, for a moment, bewilders and shames me. Stead, of all people, deserves my attention. Stead is not Frank.

from Bryan Appleyard: Bedford Park: Prologue
then Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Bedford Park: The Enchanted Suburb


The poor and pre­viously excluded weren't visiting, as intended; the middle classes were just coming more often, and in greater numbers. There are also, of course, the tourists: of the 44.5m annual visitors to key national museums in 2011-12, no less than 18.8m--42%--were foreign. We are effectively offering education and edification to the world as well as to British taxpayers.

So, taking into account the visitor experience--the excess of crisp-eaters--and the continued absence of the working class, it would seem that free admission has not worked.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Museums: The Price of Free


Last Wednesday the novelist Iain Banks announced on his website that he had less than a year to live. Calm, brave, medically precise--cancer is rioting through his organs--and devoid of self-pity, his statement said more in 480 or so words than most people can manage in whole books. Banks would have left any sensitive reader praying that when their time comes they will be that dignified, that noble. And that funny.

"I've asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow," he wrote, adding that "we find ghoulish humour helps".

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: The New Ritual of Dying in Public


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