Flat White

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Crown princes and Russian spies

THIS is a confession of sorts. Since the rise of Trump, I’ve been sneering along with the best of them…

10 Dec 2016

Post-truth, and other such falsehoods

In the weeks that followed first Brexit and then Donald Trump’s election to the US Presidency it seemed that many…

10 Dec 2016

A thousand words

Humour is not a feature one normally associates with a National Press Club address. I was surprised and somewhat humbled…

10 Dec 2016

Love and marriage

The Fairfax-reading, ABC-viewing middle classes are getting rattled. In Victoria, 2,400 extra police officers are to be employed to help…

10 Dec 2016

Coercive conformity

Is there any joint lesson to be learned from so-called Brexit and the unlikely-seeming elevation of Donald Trump to the…

3 Dec 2016

Our grandads didn’t die for this

It is, perhaps, a poor reflection of our times when a historian feels compelled to remind others that the Nazis…

3 Dec 2016

Playing the identity card

‘And the union people crawled away…’- Billy Joel, Allentown   ‘Funny that Billy just endorsed Hillary. He must have forgotten…

3 Dec 2016

Business/Robbery etc

‘Free beer for all the wharfies when the red revolution comes’   When Chris Corrigan’s 1998 stevedore revolution changed the…

3 Dec 2016

Valda Wilson as Theodora

Mostly I’m more interested in what is to come than in what’s already been, but I have let my mind…

10 Dec 2016

Arthur Streeton And the Sunlight Clasps the Earth 1895

Last week you could have done some Christmas shopping at the Mossgreen and Sotheby’s art auctions in Sydney. You might…

3 Dec 2016

The kiss Auguste Rodin (1901-04)

Local writers have been repurposing Kenneth Clark’s 1958 differentiation of the nude from naked in discussing the current exhibition at…

26 Nov 2016

Rose Byrne at rehearsal

David Mamet has a birthday next week; he’ll be turning 69. Quite a grand old man of American letters. Playwright…

19 Nov 2016

The descent of man

Why do humans want to build robots? It seems, on the face of it, to be a suicidal endeavour, destroying…

10 Dec 2016

Crime fiction for Christmas

Imagine receiving an anonymous suicide note addressed to you by mistake. Would you try to find that person, to help…

10 Dec 2016

Poor bewildered beasts

If you’ve ever read a history of the early days of the Foundling Hospital, you’ll remember the shock: expecting to…

10 Dec 2016

The unkindest cult of all

When I was 22 I met a man called Yisrayl Hawkins who said his coming had been prophesied in the…

10 Dec 2016

Roving the world

In these books, two handsome and popular telly adventurers consider, from viewpoints that are sometimes overly autobiographical, the culture of…

10 Dec 2016

Double trouble

Cousins is a curious novel. If I’d been a publisher’s reader, I’d have consigned it to the rejection pile after…

10 Dec 2016

The lonely passion of Beatrix Potter

The story of the extraordinary boom in children’s literature over the last 100 years could be bookended with a ‘Tale…

10 Dec 2016

Dark and graphic

A woman birthing bloated speckled eggs from her supernaturally swollen womb. Sushi screaming and squirming. A skull-shaped sweet, bearing the…

10 Dec 2016

We’re all snobs really

D.J. Taylor’s clever dissection of snobs is really two books in one. Scattered throughout are entertaining, delicious (initially), solemnly related…

10 Dec 2016

Snow on snow

Here is William Diaper in 1722, translating Oppian’s Halieuticks (a Greek epic poem on the loves of the fishes): As…

10 Dec 2016

Rhinoceros pie, anyone?

Forgotten? Though I can rarely attend their dinners (in Birmingham), I am a proud member of the Buckland Club (motto:…

10 Dec 2016

Arms and the woman

In August 1939, Clare Hollingworth, a 28-year-old aid-worker, had been employed as a reporter for less than a week by…

10 Dec 2016