Miscellaneous

This week we have been mostly…

We shall be posting later in the week a selection of the best pieces we’ve read on the subject of Jeremy Corbyn and his election as Labour Party leader. In the meantime, here are some other items that have attracted our attention over the last seven days.

► Brendan O’Neill was highly amusing in Spiked about the pending charity single for those fleeing persecution, asking, ‘Haven’t the refugees suffered enough?’

Caitlin Moran, Times columnist, sit‘com’ writer, and a square person’s idea of a cool person, in cahoots with Benedict Cumberbatch, who never turns down an opportunity to pout his pain for the cameras on behalf of the benighted people of the Earth … is bringing about the re-release of Crowded House’s 20-year-old tune ‘Help Is Coming’ – which on the plus side has exactly the right title for this white-saviour initiative – ‘we’re on our way, fear not!’ – but on the downside is Crowded House’s most boring song.

► Sarah Churchwell was very good in the New Statesman on nostalgic ‘antebellum’ literature and its role in the partial rehabilitation of America’s Old South.

Once institutional slavery was irrevocably destroyed, nostalgia prevailed, and southerners began producing novels, ­poems and songs romanticising the lost, halcyon days of the antebellum era. Reaching their apotheosis in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind in 1936, and its film version in 1939, they have become known as the ‘moonlight and magnolia’ school of plantation fiction … [and] helped establish the formula: devoted former slaves recount (in dialect) their memories of an idyllic plantation culture wantonly destroyed by militant northern abolitionists and power-crazed federalists.

► Peter Hitchens praised the 1967 film adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd (Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp, Peter Finch) and, in doing so, revisited the paradox that the decade in which the film was made frequently failed to live up to its glamorous billing.

Brown tea, made from leaves, was still being drunk in the sadly-furnished parlours of old-fashioned houses in stolid brick towns. Smoke still drifted from factory chimneys over murky canals and tank engines still shunted long lines of clanking coal trucks in urban sidings.

And the picture?

Films as good as this are seldom made. See it if you can. It dares to be three hours long, and I would say that not a minute of that is wasted.

► Sometimes one is driven by an anniversary to revisit a moment from the past; sometimes it’s just enough to know that there are things that shouldn’t be forgotten. In this latter category, this is an extraordinary collection of photographs of the British Army in Northern Ireland in the 1970s.

The United Kingdom, in September 1969. (AP Photo/Royle)

The United Kingdom, in September 1969. (AP Photo/Royle)

► And since the 1970s are somewhat in fashion at the moment, thanks to political developments in the Labour Party, we listened again to Denim’s song ‘The Osmonds’. Recorded in 1992, it’s a round-up of everything that singer Lawrence could remember from the decade of his childhood, from the IRA to the Bay City Rollers, from George Best to Jeremy Thorpe.

In the  70s I was just a kid, but I still knew what it was all about. I sucked it in, now it’s all dripping out.

Some of us know how he feels.

Happy consuming!

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