Dr Watson and the Curious Case of the Calcutta Cup

Arthur Conan Doyle would have given much have been at Twickenham yesterday.  His passion for rugby, a game he considered the “best collective” sport was lifelong. It also influenced his writing – including the creation of literature’s most famous sidekick. Conan Doyle was just nine when England and Scotland met for the very first time.…

In memoriam George Weidenfeld

I was sad to hear of the death of the eminent publisher, socialite and humanist Lord Weidenfeld, on Wednesday, after a brief illness. I was fortunate enough to have spent 6 months as an intern at his Institute for Strategic Dialogue  a number of years ago. The concerns of the Institute at the time were…

Agatha Christie and “cosy” crime

I very much enjoyed watching the BBC’s giallo-inspired, and star packed, dramatisation of And Then There were None, released in the UK over the Christmas break. A superior piece of storytelling, the production was praised for re-invigorating the Christie formula, stripping back the fustiness to let the sheer bloodthirstiness of the piece shine through. The…

Whiplash: The cost of greatness

Does great art justify the means necessary to achieve it? This is question at the heart of Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, a tightly scripted, gothic infused extemporisation on the psychological and physical sacrifices required by the pursuit of excellence. Miles Teller’s Andrew Nieman is a promising young drummer, hell bent on becoming one of the “greatest…

Bookshops as giftshops

My reading habits are quite idiosyncratic, meaning I either tend to be picking through things I’ve picked up second hand, or looking to get hold of titles that will need to be ordered in, and are thus easier simply to buy directly online. For holiday reading, I admit to having succumbed to the Kindle –…

Roald Dahl, Olivia Dahl, and measles

Melanie’s Marvellous Measles, is a book that has become emblematic of the anti-vaccination movement. Initially published in 2012, it has returned to news agendas as a result of the consequent resurgence of measles in the United States, 15 years after the disease had been declared effectively eliminated in the country. Of the many terrible things…