Harry Eyres

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Full name: Harry Eyres

Area of interest: Arts and culture

Journals/Organisation: Financial Times

Email: harryeyres@care4free.net

Personal website: Harry Eyres.com

Website: http://www.ft.com/life-arts/harry-eyres

Blog:

Representation:

Networks: https://twitter.com/#!/sloweyres | http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/harry-eyres/13/966/a1b

Biography:

About:

Education: Cambridge University: English; Barcelona University: Diploma de Estudios Hispanicos; London School of Economics: MSc Environmental Assessment and Evaluation

Career: Written variously on the Arts, food, literature, music, theatre, travel, for most UK newspapers, including stints as wine columnist for The Spectator (1984/1989); Arts and theatre critic for The Times (1987/1993); wine editor for Harpers & Queen (1989/1996); poetry editor for The Daily Express (1996/2001)

Current position/role: Columnist

  • also writes/has written for:

Other roles/Main role: Edits LSE Environment, the newsletter of LSE’s Centre for Environmental Policy and Governance; teaches theatre in London for a consortium of American universities

Other activities: Published poet

Disclosures:

Viewpoints/Insight:

Broadcast media:

Video:

Controversy/Criticism:

Awards/Honours:

Scoops:

Other:

Books & Debate:

Plato's The Republic Harry Eyres.jpg

Latest work: Beginner’s Guide to Plato’s The Republic OCLC 48194085, 2001

(and see Harry Eyres.com: books)

Speaking/Appearances: Harry Eyres.com: events and readings

  • 16th November 2008 8.30pm "All that we see is vision" Blake event at Pentameters Theatre, The Horseshoe, Heath Street, Hampstead, London NW3

Financial Times: 'Slow Lane'

Column name:

Remit/Info: 'Celebrates the creative use of down-time'

Section: FT Weekend

Role: Commentator

Pen-name:

Email: harry.eyres@ft.com

Website: FT.Com / Harry Eyres

Commissioning Editor:

Day published: Saturday

Regularity: Weekly

Column format:

Average length: 850 words

Articles: 2014

  • Spanish art’s northern outpost - From sweltering Seville to cool windy Bishop Auckland, it might as well be a million miles - 30th August
  • Happy Days are here again - The director of the Beckett festival is passionate about art’s power to knit together divided communities - 23rd August
  • News from nowhere and everywhere - Because our lives in lucky parts of the world go so smoothly, we have room for distant news - 16th August
  • The art of bridging divides - It is ‘very challenging to hate someone sitting next to you playing a Beethoven symphony’ - 9th August
  • My rock and awe moment - There is potential for eco-tourism in a former wasteland that blooms with wild flowers - 2nd August
  • The cruel cost of the crisis - Making life more difficult for mentally distressed people, in tough economic times, strikes me as both cruel and stupid - 26th July
  • A love letter to Scotland - Scotland contrasted so absolutely with the smug, green blandness of southern England - 19th July
  • The grapes of war - Schools and hospitals moved underground; an opera was held in the Louis Roederer cellars - 12th July
  • Master of image manipulation - Unlike today’s teenagers, the young Alexander Pope turned his unusual looks to his advantage - 5th July
  • Plaques to the future - London’s blue tablets are inspirational in recalling people who changed the world - 28th June
  • Flex your real muscles - I used to see the rivalry between Federer and Nadal as one between nerve and muscle - 21st June
  • Lessons in the key of life - Learning later in life is hard. Bad habits become ingrained and feel like part of one’s being - 21st June
  • Celestial observations - Part of Copernicus’s genius was to find the radical potential in the ancient authors - 7th June
  • A place for all nations - I remind myself not to take for granted the English calm of my London working haunts - 31st May
  • The square necessities - Sat in a square, human curiosity about other people can be satisfied in the most natural way - 24th May
  • Beware of Greeks bearing myths - The ancient Greeks were not primitive at all – they knew exactly what they were doing - 17th May
  • Shout it from the rooftops - To what extent should climate scientists speak out in the debate on global warming? - 10th May
  • Triumph of the spiritual - Spirituality, at its noblest, is not narrow, tribal and defensive but quite the opposite - 3rd May
  • Hymn of praise to a beacon of quality - The virtues of the BBC still seem to me to outshine its admittedly glaring faults - 26th April
  • We’re looking for a piano - The musical instrument has come to be seen as bourgeois and genteel, at home in a million polite parlours - 19th April
  • Why can’t we have happy poets? - Great poetry needs to be sprung with tension, not to sag into familiar comfort like an old sofa - 12th April
  • Bath time with arias and graces - Rather than Paris, I ended up in Bath, exchanging bohemian liberty for cosy politeness - 5th April
  • Mortal thoughts in a timeless place - Those ‘aha!’ moments come more rarely but with special pleasure to the middle-aged - 29th March
  • Poetry’s true objective - I’ve been trying to deal with the old subjective v objective chestnut since the age of 12 or 13 - 15th March
  • My Brahms box of wonders - Here comes the admission: as a teenager I did not like Brahms’ symphonies at all - 8th March
  • A stitch in the fabric of time - Seeing these clothes, I couldn’t help thinking about the women who had once worn them - 1st March
  • The forecast is bleak - Weather in the UK has gone from being the safest of subjects to the most inflammatory - 22nd February
  • The frauds squad - Are people suffering from impostor syndrome merely pretending to be impostors? - 15th February
  • Reflections on another civil war - ‘I don’t want anybody to go through what we went through,’ said one of the Basque refugees - 8th February
  • Rules of distraction - Distracted pedestrians are a problem but distracted drivers are a more serious nuisance - 31st January
  • Stirred, not shaken - Shaken is a process that comes from outside; stirring starts within and moves outward - 25th January
  • Poetic words of war - Wilfred Owen delivered an almost mortal blow to the Roman poet Horace’s reputation - 18th January
  • Lessons in love from the ancients - We don’t speak much about love any more; we would rather talk about relationships and sex - 11th January
  • Old Europe shores up its future - What does heritage mean, exactly? - 4th January

Articles: 2013

  • The peril of precocity - The poet Patrick Shaw-Stewart worked so hard to win the scholarship that all his hair fell out - 28th December
  • Actions speak louder than words - I think he wanted to enjoy the time that was left, every minute of it, not talk about it - 21st December
  • Premiere of a long-lost opera - With their latest discovery, “Fantasio”, I think Opera Rara have struck gold - 14th December
  • Among the ghosts of Fleet Street - During journalism’s golden age, a reporter was urged to go out and have lunch more often - 7th December
  • A port for all storms - The choice could be expressed as a question: is port a Portuguese or a British wine? - 30th November
  • A long overdue pilgrimage - And then there was the parrot. Haydn bought it in London and it lived with him for 19 years - 23rd November
  • Why work so hard? - Keynes predicted that by the early 21st century the working week would be cut to 15 hours - 16th November
  • The honourable spoils of war - Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won - 9th November
  • Champion of the species - Gerald Durrell’s genius is in making creatures come alive, no less vivid than human characters - 2nd November
  • When less is more - I’m not sure how Tube passengers will respond to sentences such as ‘Truth is a pathless land’ - 26th October
  • Eine Kleine Airlinemusik - My radical suggestion is to replace Strauss and Mozart with Schoenberg, Berg and Webern - 19th October
  • The houses that build us - Strangely, I dreaded the loss of the house from a very early age. I had nightmares about it - 12th October
  • Climate of uncertainty - I have an image of an immense, planet-sized cauldron, into which someone is dripping poison - 5th October
  • Let children be wild at heart - ‘Statistics reveal that half of children can’t tell the difference between a bee and a wasp’ - 28th September
  • When the vines withered - Was it only a matter of time before the slopes of the Côte-d’Or were planted with sugarbeet? - 21st September
  • Goodbye, my good companions - Now that the books are being dispersed I feel for their future, almost as they were refugees - 14th September
  • When a poet dies - The world of poetry and the wider world has to come to terms with the death of Seamus Heaney - 7th September
  • In praise of staying put - Summers in London is the time to enjoy your home, not to abandon it - 31st August
  • The clutter of love - If you throw stuff out too fast or thoughtlessly, you are in danger of snapping attachments - 24th August
  • When advertising turns to art - Art Everywhere is not political in the least, and sits happily in the world of late capitalism - 17th August
  • Gardens in the city sky - The roof garden is not just a sweet or beautiful place but also an ecologically useful one - 10th August
  • Nine hundred years of counting swans - Swan upping evolved from the supply of birds for the table into an exercise in conservation - 3rd August
  • Spasticus artisticus - Ian Dury was a one-man ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’, rightly feted for his inventive pop lyrics, but who trained initially as a fine artist - 27th July
  • The language of diplomacy - Learning it is not just a technical matter – but an act of cultural generosity, a way of learning about the rich variety of the world - 20th July
  • The language of diplomacy - Learning it is not just a technical matter – but an act of cultural generosity, a way of learning about the rich variety of the world - 13th July
  • The menace of tennis fans - When did it become acceptable to call out players’ names in order to put off the opponent? - 6th July
  • Public art and private generosity - All great public collections owe their existence to acts of imagination - 28th June
  • Time is on my side - Boredom can transform itself into a gateway from one kind of being to another - 22nd June
  • Don’t despair on climate change - Expecting any sort of altruism from politicians has come to seem a tall order, but it is absolutely necessary and not impossible - 15th June
  • It really is good to talk - The relatively closed form of email ends up generating more problems than it solves - 8th June
  • The quest of a lifetime - Bonnefoy is clear about what he is seeking: it is the ‘first, preconceptual experience of the world’ - 1st June
  • Infectious states of mind - Casting a pall of gloom over people seems a risky way of bringing about economic recovery - 25th May
  • The essence of artistry - The communication of the deepest and strongest emotions requires both technique and ‘duende’ - 18th May
  • Our eyes on the storks - The human-stork ‘convivencia’ points the way to reconciling the man-made with nature - 11th May
  • In touch with my poetic side - The popularity of the book group is in part nostalgia for the coffee-house and the salon - 4th May
  • Art from the ashes - War-ravaged Darmstadt has overcome its mid-century trauma and is once again a place of surprising beauty (in parts) and, above all, of peace - 27th April
  • Soundbites v serious science - Many of the difficulties in communication between scientists and the media are tonal - 20th April
  • The mark in every face I meet - A plea for compassion and sharing, from a writer who’s not ashamed to take the bus - 13th April
  • The work of mourning - I suspect that ‘moving on’ partly means turning one’s back on what is unbearable - 6th April
  • A measured look at climate change - We still have no way of accurately forecasting weather more than a fortnight ahead - 30th March
  • An orchestra ahead of its age - ‘The change Dudamel had achieved with this group of young players was not just musical; the transformation went deeper’ - 23rd March
  • How to defy the supermarket gods - ‘I have experimented with using supermarkets less; and the less I use them, the better I feel’ - 16th March
  • Players in a game of diplomacy - Cliburn and Gagarin were victims as well as heroes of the cold war they helped to thaw - 9th March
  • Why Briers went beyond Good - He was being mourned not as a fine and versatile actor, but as a national treasure, indistinguishable from the character he played - 2nd March
  • Let the fields of the mind fall fallow - What a mind-changing, even mind-opening experience being ill, or allowing yourself to be ill, can be - 23rd February
  • Where the customer is not king - Unlike the maniacally smiling baristas of Pret A Manger, Vienna’s café waiters are permitted eccentricities - 16th February
  • Minor details, major achievement - Can unassuming paintings of church interiors, placid cows and clearings in the woods be religious at the same time? - 9th February
  • Scales of complexity - Does the shallowness of today’s communal dramatic entertainments show that we have become stupid? - 2nd February
  • Inhospitable? No, just impatient - Earth’s increasingly strong reactions to our thoughtless behaviour may be an indication that our host’s patience might be running out - 26th January
  • The humble heroes of Cartier-Bresson - The photographer was a rare artist who had an unerring instinct and eye for what is most truly, deeply human - 19th January
  • Inspired by a true amateur - Cricket commentator Christopher Martin-Jenkins was a touching reminder that novices matter just as much as the pros - 12th January
  • Tales of colonial derring-do - The relationship between Sir Stamford Raffles and William Farquhar was close, rivalrous and ultimately bitter - 5th January

Articles: 2012

  • Life, death and sport - The best culture is not divorced from life, but our most profound way to make sense of it - 29th December
  • A toast to my father - ‘My father will be remembered for his wide-ranging enjoyment of life and culture, his modesty and desire to be of service’ - 22nd December
  • The most precious gifts - Things matter because of the love and care invested in them and transmitted by them - 15th December
  • Music for children of all ages - Seeing the sober hallway of perhaps the world’s most august chamber music venue turned into a park for baby-buggies was something of a shock - 8th December
  • A continent in search of a project - The reintegration of the eastern bloc countries is one programme commensurate with the ideals of European culture - 1st December
  • Real conversation brought to the table - When friends have become too busy or have moved away, where should one go for interesting and intense exchanges? - 23rd November
  • Sane voices in a world gone mad - Arturo Barea and Manuel Chaves Nogales refused to take extreme ideological positions and had the commitment to tell the truth - 17th November
  • A new chapter for libraries - The London Library has become more social, more of a hub, less purely a resource for solitary writers and scholars -10th November
  • That rounded, glossy look - Even more important than being, or looking, comfortable in one’s skin, is being able to voice the courage of one’s convictions - 3rd November
  • A passeggiata to Italy - This ritual of human sociability, a defence against atomisation, seems to have been lost in cities such as London or New York - 27th October
  • When perfection isn’t enough - What makes a performance ‘truly good’ is not technique or style, but duende which is dark, earthy and visceral - 20th October
  • Pussy Riot, punk and holy fools - The members of the band are appealing to a democratic, anarchic strain within Orthodoxy exemplified by the ‘yurodivy’ - 13th October
  • The myth of Romantic love - Making this heady stuff the unique guarantor of transcendent joy underestimates the pull of different kinds of obligation - 6th October
  • Fine art and the lords of finance - There is a sense that bankers still haven’t paid their dues, but what kind of art could fulfil this function? - 29th September
  • Pieces in times of war - Rhythmic applause isn’t really applause at all; it negates the essential spontaneity, the organic feeling of ebb and flow - 22nd September
  • Conservation and conservatism - There have been long links between strands of environmentalism and the far right. But do recent developments point to an outright marriage? - 15th September
  • In all the old familiar places - The aim is to do as little as possible, to be. And this is easier in a favourite location, where there is less temptation to explore - 8th September
  • Back to the future - What becomes of the notion of the avant-garde when faith in what lies ahead has been eroded? - 1st September
  • Maps of the human art - Maps encourage imagination and exploration, which is precisely the opposite of what Satnav encourages - 25th August
  • A legacy of lyricism - The Proms were never backward-looking and for that they are in the eternal debt of Henry Wood - 18th August
  • Authority’s fatal flaws - Some totalitarian regimes seem able to sustain their bankrupt rule for ages. But they will fall, eventually - 11th August
  • Of poetry and motion - As sport eclipses verse in terms of popularity, could wordsmiths have only themselves to blame? - 4th August
  • Peace in classical time - Art, as Auden almost said, makes nothing happen. Or perhaps art’s first duty is to be true to itself in the valley of its own making - 28th July
  • Requiem for a summer - Nature has gone into mourning; the skies afflicted with persistent low mood, gloomy darkness and extreme tearfulness - 21st July
  • What we can learn from the Cherokee - The Native American people continue to uphold ‘gadugi’, the value of working together for the good of the community - 14th July
  • Think outside the brain box - Phrenology and neuroscience both reflect our tendency to overvalue that mass of grey matter in our skulls - 7th July
  • Small school of thought - The value of small schools, both to individuals and to communities, might well be incalculable - 30th June
  • Test of true Euro vision - Europe’s climate monitoring mechanism is an opportunity for the continent to reassert its voice in environmental policy - 23rd June
  • Damp delights - Unassuming, flat, damp Woodwalton Fen is a historically important and resonant place because it was the first official nature reserve in Britain - 16th June
  • From vicious to virtuous - To declare that eating organic food is a mere ‘lifestyle choice’ is misconceived - 9th June
  • Masters of the art of living - Spain has been getting bad press, but we should not forget that we owe the country - 2nd June
  • Yes to politics in my parish - Democracy at the local level has its pains, but it too delivers rewards - 26th May
  • Triumphant moments of loss - ‘This book which you have been slaving away at for so long is also what has been keeping you going’ - 19th May
  • Authenticity’s real appeal - The idea behind period performance has always seemed quite odd, and in a way touchingly romantic, and not really historical at all - 12th May
  • Just look, don’t preach - When aspects of a landscape or objects in a domestic setting are used in preaching, they lose their wonderful particularity - 5th May
  • From the civic to the sublime - An automobile-inspired installation raises tricky questions on the production of art and its ramifications - 28th April
  • The magic of Mercury rising - Sport, at its most compelling, is about outwitting and trickery, about cheeky daring rather than bombardment - 21st April
  • Drawn to distraction - We have long-standing assumptions about drawing, but Matisse sought to break these concepts with his works - 14th April
  • The beauty of function - Harmondsworth Great Barn, recently acquired by English Heritage, reminds us that a barn could be better than a cathedral - 7th April
  • An energising gift of light - More than heat, it is what truly revitalises - 31st March
  • Feel free to stress out - While Cuba seems an exercise in stress-reduction, versions of neo-liberalism in the west could be seen as maximising stress - 24th March
  • Full of hot air, signifying nothing - A visit to an art festival in the north saw undercooked initiatives both at the level of ideas and art - 17th March
  • Our debt to Greek culture - All the talk is of Greece’s unrepayable financial obligations, but we should also consider the gifts the country has given us - 10th March
  • Surface tensions - The founders of psychoanalysis made wonderful discoveries, whose implications may take several centuries to realise - 3rd March
  • Work less, feel better - Radical historian and ecologist Ivan Illich reminds us that our human constitution requires us to question ends and not merely to pursue means - 25th February
  • Feelings of forgiveness - Germaine de Staël, the free-thinking novelist and essayist, viewed understanding not only as a faculty of the intellect but also of the soul - 18th February
  • Fools rush in and lose out - As time becomes a nuisance to be traversed as quickly as possible, space with all its intricate detail, can be sacrificed - 11th February
  • In pursuit of perfectibility - After visiting a gripping Leonardo da Vinci show, Harry Eyres is reminded of our capacity to be transformed by the soul’s quest for beauty - 4th February
  • A vital space to Occupy - The overriding impression from the Occupy St Paul’s camp was not of dope-fuelled haze but of uncanny premonition - 28th January
  • Low mileage in grand theories - Harry Eyres hopes 2012 will turn out to be a year not of grand theories but of small and even faltering insights - 21st January
  • Touched by tales aloud - A reunion with friends reminds Harry Eyres of the power of the spoken word and how it makes salient the humanity that binds us - 14th January
  • Plan C for humanity - Instead of belt-tightening and borrowing more, Harry Eyres proposes restoring depth, empathy and feeling to help kick-start the economy - 7th January

Articles: 2011

  • Glory amid the gloom - If 2011 has ended in a mood of economic pessimism then it is all the more reason for dwelling on aspects of life that might restore the human spirit - 31st December
  • A modern Jerusalem - Harry Eyres cites the poet William Blake who counsels not despair but an unceasing ‘mental fight’ in harmonising social and economic goals - 24th December
  • Little England’s larger legacy - Old churches remind us that though Britain has been an island for 8,000 years, it has also always been part of the continent - 17th December
  • Hard to keep your head down - What seems to be lacking is a justified confidence in where we, collectively, are going, or a faith in fundamentals - 10th December
  • When it’s time to pull out the stops - Harry Eyres might still be an agnostic about organ music but he is thoroughly converted to the fascination of organ-building - 3rd December
  • Gifting labours of Hercules - Al Weil’s philanthropy derives from a passionate affair with the 19th-century watercolourist Hercules Brabazon Brabazon - 26th November
  • Golden taste of winter - Harry Eyres ponders the varied styles of sherry, which to him is one of the most humane ways of shepherding humans through the changing seasons - 19th November
  • Gone, but not forgotten - Harry Eyres says the extinction of the great auk is poignant and wonders if we are killing off parts of ourselves by extinguishing other species - 12th November
  • Future imperfect - Harry Eyres might have had limited aspirations to buy things at age 16, but when it came to doing things his ambitions were unbounded - 5th November
  • Café society with the flâneurs - Harry Eyres feels impelled to point out that the life of the habitué of cafés is much more difficult than it looks - 29th October
  • Far-sighted but no visionary - Harry Eyres says Steve Jobs was unusual in many ways but he is still not convinced that it qualifies him to be called a visionary - 22nd October
  • Civilisation, or just civility? - Research shows common courtesy is under threat, not so much from external forces as from tendencies within ourselves - 15th October
  • When restoration is not enough - It is relatively easy to rebuild a house or a church, Harry Eyres is told. A far greater challenge is to rebuild the life of a village - 8th October
  • Wise words, well delivered - Harry Eyres ponders on a crucial aspect of mentoring that gives it a particular force and makes it different from teaching or training - 1st October
  • The price of a free school - Of course the idea sounds grand – but free from what? Or, more importantly, free for what? Harry Eyres looks back to two inspiring experiments - 24th September
  • A conversion in the vineyard - Intrigued but not entirely won over by natural wines, Harry Eyres believes that they might remind us of our own birthright of untrammelled freedom - 17th September
  • Not just sol, what about soul? - The first and most important function of a holiday is to put you back in touch deeply with yourself - 10th September
  • A tale of two festivals - Art cannot be taken as seriously, or made to bear as much weight, as it used to - 3rd September
  • In praise of modest accomplishment - Being an artist seems to require a magnification of ego, but being a craftsperson involves its diminution - 27th August
  • When words fail us all - If the riots in English cities both invited and defied commentary, that was surely because they seemed so inarticulate - 20th August
  • Sweet nothing - We tend to avoid that awkward pause or gap and fill it with something, but the idea that anything is better is dubious - 13th August
  • Many hats, not just one - Having multiple identities should not be seen as frivolous but as a celebration of the sheer plurality involved in being human - 6th August
  • Second that emotion - Harry Eyres believes that the right words, connected to properly differentiated feelings, matter enormously at all times - 30th July
  • A 21st-century Wife of Bath? - Tracey Emin’s show at the Hayward Gallery reminds Harry Eyres is reminded of the character from ‘Canterbury Tales’ - 23rd July
  • Mozart and his major minors - Harry Eyres talks about a selection of the composer’s works which are few in number but exceptional in expressive intensity - 16th July
  • My shallow affair with Twitter - It is foolish to expect conversation or poetry from a website that is merely a vehicle for narcissistic pseudo-communication - 9th July
  • The heart has its reasons - Harry Eyres debates with a senior civil servant about public perception, risk assessment and rationality - 2nd July
  • How to talk a good game - The essential thing about tennis, which rarely gets mentioned, is that this sport consists of dialogue - 24th June
  • Let’s hear it for plain speakers - The rule is that the higher the language soars, unless you’re careful, the more it leaves itself open to attack from below - 17th June
  • The delights and dangers of diversity - The potential for deeper rifts must exist when social and political traditions between two cultures are further apart - 11th June
  • Private wealth and public spaces - Thinking of the contrast between 1951, the year of the original Festival of Britain, and 2011, Harry Eyres finds himself reflecting on permanence versus ephemerality - 4th June
  • Musical Cinderellas - The répétiteur – who can seem so downtrodden and anonymous – has to be among the most skilful and versatile of all musicians, as Harry Eyres discovers on a course for ‘reps’ - 28th May
  • The long and the short of coffee - Enlightened by a recent trip to Italy, Harry Eyres learns that the experience and philosophy offered by coffee bars in the UK and in the US is a pale shadow of the Italian one - 21st May
  • Greek tragedy’s lessons for Obama - The denial of human dignities to an enemy may seem like strength; Harry Eyres tends to see it as what Horace called ‘brute force bereft of wisdom’, which is doomed to fall to ruin - 14th May
  • Why it is so hard to be soft - In the battle between these two extreme measures, the strongman approach nearly always wins but the drive towards hardness can be a gross over-simplification - 7th May
  • Time to listen to Tagore - Rabindranath Tagore’s questions on the western ideal of material progress devoid of a spiritual core make him a relevant and essential figure - 30th April
  • The birds and the bees - After one of the most turbulent springs, Harry Eyres contemplates the great renewing rhythms of nature and the disturbing situation of the creatures that herald it - 23rd April
  • Speaking out by the book - The spread of literary festivals is one of the stranger and more benign phenomena of the globalised era. So why do people go to them - 16th April
  • Sir John Soane’s divine clutter - The Soane museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields is like no other. It is a place liberatingly free of cant and has a strong appeal for the elusive 16-30-year-old bracket - 9th April
  • A Mozartian fairy tale - The perfect balance of release and restraint is what makes ‘Roman Holiday’, an essentially unbelievable story, so wonderful and so heart-breaking - 2nd April
  • Downsides to upgrades - Our machines get better and better, more and more powerful, faster and faster (though not necessarily more reliable). We, on the other hand, do not - 26th March
  • Spotlight on a class apart - What makes ‘Archipelago’ moving and distinguished is the way Joanna Hogg counterpoints human unhappiness and disappointment with the beauty and mystery of the world - 19th March
  • How we lost our voice - The Middle East protests have shown westerners up as citizens who have in large measure given up their freedom in return for the comforts of consumerism - 19th March
  • The holy grail of twitching - The much-mocked pursuit of birdwatching is a deeply romantic one – and, unlike most romantic pursuits, entirely harmless - 5th March
  • A multicultural expedition - Culture is a person’s way of interpreting the world. A problem with multiculturalism is that it is someone else’s culture that is being defined and discussed, not one’s own - 26th February
  • Brave men of their word - Where the courage of Tom Lubbock and Héctor Abad Gómez came together was in the way they wrote unflinchingly and courageously in the face of death - 19th February
  • Future of the Med is all at sea - An hour at the ‘Méditerranée’ exhibition allows us to discover that the undersea world is one of the most colourful and peculiar habitats on earth - 12th February
  • If I could talk to the animals - Attracting birds to your garden and supplementing their food supply is a way both of giving yourself pleasure and of restoring the balance between human and non-human - 5th February
  • How words can become action - The links between saying and doing and their opposites may be impossible to unravel, but their ethical challenges are enough to keep anyone thoughtful awake - 29th January
  • On the other hand - Harry Eyres speaks out on behalf of an oppressed minority who has suffered in the course of history – left-handed people - 22nd January
  • The recipe for cooking - At the Slow Food festival, Harry Eyres remembers that he learned the essentials of putting together a dish from a person who knew that it is not about gastronomic one-upmanship but about love - 15th January
  • Perfect time and heavenly length - Harry Eyres gets a cold sweat after dreaming about a world controller of cricket who decides that the game needs to be drastically slimmed down - 8th January

Articles: 2010

  • Keys to who knows what - Harry Eyres says readers help to write his column and sometimes they give him insights into what it is about - 31st December
  • A poetic disappearance - Harry Eyres looks at new versions of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s ‘The Little Prince’ and is reminded of literary translation’s immense difficulty, creativity and importance - 24th December
  • Christmas cards: the angel is in the detail - The focus on the humble and obscure instead of the grand and majestic picture closely reflects the original spirit of the season - 18th December
  • Metaphysical indigestion -We’re all mad for experience, we live for ‘experiences’, says Harry Eyres, but wonders how much experience can we take in and absorb in full - 11th December
  • Naples: a city in need of mercy - On a visit to the Italian city, Harry Eyres views two paintings by Caravaggio and reflects on our capacity for cruelty and compassion - 4th December
  • Friends, Romans, schoolchildren - Latin and ancient Greek are making a comeback in British state schools and helping improve literacy levels. Harry Eyres welcomes the return of the classics’ rich mix of culture and philosophy - 4th December
  • In praise of cultivation - Higher education should be organised on behalf of students, not vested academic or institutional interests - 27th November
  • Barred from freedom - Prisoners have nothing to hide behind; they are humanity with all the trappings stripped away, equal under the sign of the loss of liberty - 20th November
  • How far back can we go? - The complexity of the different factors that influence climate and their potential interactions is so great that we will never have certain knowledge of them - 13th November
  • The essence of humanity - Having visited the show at the Wallace Collection in London, Harry Eyres believes he is now in a position to reveal the secret of Poussin’s great philosophical painting ‘A Dance to the Music of Time’ - 6th November
  • Happier and greener - Seeing that big environmental problems are global in scope, we seek global solutions. But the greatest successes in restoring nature are happening on a local level - 30th October
  • Face it, I’m a railway voyeur - Harry Eyres, who always requests a table seat when he travels, wonders why more and more trains are getting rid of the compartment, which enables travellers to face each other - 23rd October
  • How to cultivate a growth industry - Many have criticised the application of the verb ‘to grow’ on inanimate entities such as businesses and economies on grounds of grammar or style, but for Harry Eyres, the objections go deeper - 16th October
  • In tune with the have-nots - Hearing the teenagers of the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela perform at the Beethovenfest in Bonn gives Harry Eyres a new perspective on wealth and poverty - 9th October
  • Not so shallow after all ... - The youth of today have been accused of degeneracy. But Harry Eyres thinks they are just as intelligent and appear markedly better at socialising - 2nd October
  • Not work-shy and not retiring - Harry Eyres has a feeling the idea of retirement is rather like that of holiday; much yearned for and fantasised about but often desperately disappointing in practice - 25th September
  • Profits, politics and perfect teeth - Conductors, business leaders and politicians seem to agree on one thing – that leadership means nothing without the group’s willingness to collaborate - 18th September
  • Not a vintage summer - Neville Cardus believed both cricket and music can bring thousands of people into an arena and still them into silent appreciation of the sublime - 11th September
  • Guided by the wandering hand - Harry Eyres says it is worth going back to the earliest and most shocking discussion of the erotic dimension of pedagogy in western literature, the speech by Alcibiades in Plato’s ‘Symposium’ - 4th September
  • Plans that just won’t play ball - High-powered people are naturally drawn to high-powered solutions but their grand designs are not necessarily the best - 28th August
  • We reap what we have sown - On his father’s rice land and citrus orchards Masanobu Fukuoka practised the non-interventionist farming that was his life’s work and philosophy - 21st August
  • Honour and humanity - Jacques Barzun will likely be known to posterity as an essayist who trusts in the power of the informed mind to keep the ark of humanity afloat - 14th August
  • The intimacy of inspiration - What the Marlboro festival expects and demands is that people be open and truthful to themselves, to the music and to each other - 7th August
  • Snobbery is to be sniffed at - In a visit to Cambridge, Harry Eyres is struck by the richness and depth of the personal stories of the ‘college servants’ – and regrets having missed out on them as an undergraduate - 31st July
  • A truer measure of summer days - The warmest season comes as a lull, a sort of natural siesta preceding the active human time of harvesting, a light-filled sleep matching the dark dormancy of winter - 24th July
  • Why we’re all Fausts now - Harry Eyres used to assume that the New Labour was Faust and the lords of finance Mephisto. But could it be the other way round? - 17th July
  • A spartan Shangri-La - Simple accommodation turns you outwards rather than inwards, says Harry Eyres, allowing you to fully experience places where the balance of life has not been tilted too far in the human direction - 10th July
  • Paper, scissors, tones - Harry Eyres is discouraged to hear editors sounding the death-knell over newspapers as he notes the profound connection between the medium and democracy - 3rd July
  • My travels with Lemuel Gulliver - A recent trip to Taiwan reminded Harry Eyres of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, arriving on an island where he did not speak the language and finding some customs strange - 26th June
  • Losers who live in the memory - It was good that Federer and Henin lost with grace in part because so many times they have been on the winning side, inflicting defeat and even humiliation on opponents - 19th June
  • To cut or not to cut -There is no more important or contentious question in today’s politics than the timing of cuts that most people bel ieve are inevitable - 12th June
  • Two letters that spell hope - One of the things that Harry Eyres likes about the use of ‘DV’, meaning ‘Deo Volente’ or God willing, is that it comes lightly coated in irony – not a sneering sarcasm - 5th June
  • The logic of the heart - As the bicentenary of Robert Schumann’s birth approaches, Harry Eyres urges us to look at the works of the composer, who adeptly sets into music that acute yearning for what is unobtainable - 29th May
  • Odes to joy: celebrate the beauty of birdsong - What the birds convey to Harry Eyres is the quality of unadulterated joyfulness running through nature which humans can only ruefully or dimly apprehend - 22nd May
  • It’s time for snail’s pace politics - Harry Eyres thinks the coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats was done in much haste. But in politics, one must know how to play the long game - 15th May
  • In place of globalisation - Harry Eyres visits southern Taiwan, where plans for a mega-dam threaten one of the most beautiful and ecologically significant valleys in east Asia - 8th May
  • A new chapter at Westminster - Inspecting the restoration of the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey provided Harry Eyres a satisfyingly long-breathed counterpoint to short-term electoral sound bytes - 2nd May
  • In the front line of creation - Harry Eyres describes the BBC Music Magazine Awards ceremony as a serious and merited celebration of the kind of sustained excellence in music-making - 24th April
  • Legion of the dead in Rome - Harry Eyres observes that not only Protestants, and certainly not only English Romantic poets, are buried in the city’s Cimitero Acattolico - 16th April
  • Champion of the world - Harry Eyres pays tribute to the late Spanish novelist Miguel Delibes, a ‘cazador’ who ultimately saw environmental degradation not as a technical problem but as an ethical one - 10th April
  • Spirits and spirituality - A visit to the Vatican with a bunch of Armagnac producers and professionals leaves Harry Eyres with conflicting images and feelings - 3rd April
  • Strokes of inspiration - Calligraphy, or just writing better, might help us find more peace and joy in our lives, which seems a good argument for including it in the syllabus - 27th March
  • Transports of delight - Frank Pick, the Maecenas of London’s Tube, commissioned some of the best graphic artists, designers and architects to give aesthetic lift to the transit system - 20th March
  • Sacred and profound - The £50m needed to save Canterbury Cathedral is less than the cost of the Giacometti sculpture sold at Sotheby’s and a fraction of the value of the bonuses paid out by RBS - 13th March
  • Tribute to a well-versed soul - Harry Eyres pays homage to radical poet and publisher John Rety, who represented, battled for and supported a ‘bizarre old-fashioned decency’ all his life - 6th March
  • Does silence really exist? - The deepest thought that Sara Maitland’s ‘A Book of Silence’ provokes for Harry Eyres is that by surrounding ourselves with noise we are cutting ourselves off from the possibility of bliss - 27th February
  • Exploration or exploitation? - The Arctic, where some of the most exciting and important research anywhere in the world is being conducted, should at least in part be set aside as a scientific preserve - 20th February
  • Love of the world - You don’t visit the territory carved out by the Czech opera composer Leos Janacek without risk; but the risk is not so much to your physical safety as to your emotional comfort - 13th February
  • Wisdom from the polar north - Weeks of biting cold and sunless days are good cause to be miserable but at Tromsø, Norway, Harry Eyres gets the impression that such extreme conditions can bring out the best in people - 6th February
  • Love in a cold climate - Hard winters bring out the importance of real physical proximity, rather than the long-distance or virtual relationships that many have come to rely on - 30th January
  • Ennobled by suffering - Francisco de Zurbarán’s paintings at ‘The Sacred Made Real’, an exhibition of Spanish art from 1600-1700, leave a lasting impression on Harry Eyres - 23rd January
  • Blessings that grow with age - A heartening conversation with a distinguished pianist during the quiet holiday period makes Harry Eyres realise the benefits and blessings of ageing - 16th January
  • In the beginning - Unloved and stumbling, beginners are often treated with condescension and impatience. But, Harry Eyres says, being a novice is not such a bad place to find yourself - 9th January
  • When straight is a bit narrow - Our obsession with building fast, straightish roads that cut through landscapes and ignore humble settlements might have infected our whole way of thinking - 2nd January

Articles: 2009

  • Human beings or human resources? - We needs to rediscover the values that give us god-like dignity and restore the non-instrumental beauty of the natural world - 26th December
  • Peaks in a trough year - For Harry Eyres, 2009 was a sobering year when all sorts of material aspirations crashed to earth, but such a year could also be a good time to sort the wheat from the chaff - 19th December
  • The graceful revolution - Slow Food is as much about farming as about foodiness; it is based on the observation that ‘eating is an agricultural act’ - 12th December
  • Mind, matter and religion - However you define it, religion has an essential role to play in a combined human effort to make our planet more habitable for ourselves and other species - 5th December
  • I have seen the darkness - The prospect of a return to the past in the wrong sense worries Harry Eyres on his way to see the Lumière festival of light in the medieval city of Durham - 28th November
  • Does science need religion? - What religion can bring to science, which illuminates many things but cannot tell us what they mean, is passion and community - 21st November
  • Does science need religion? - What religion can bring to science, which illuminates many things but cannot tell us what they mean, is passion and community - 14th November
  • Unnatural disaster - Harry Eyres finds evidence that New Orleans was a human and political disaster. Understanding the nature of the Big Easy’s wounding helped him understand the wounding of the world - 7th November
  • Plodders, pride and prejudice - Instilled into Etonians is an unquestioning belief that they have a right to rule the world, and this is both wonderful and dangerous - 31st October
  • Art for body, mind and soul - Art is profoundly healing, as Harry Eyres finds out after attending a friend’s chamber opera and a dance theatre - 24th October
  • One thing at a time - The findings of a group of researchers from Stanford University showing that multitasking is a sure recipe for incompetence are not surprising at all to - 17th October
  • High marks for Haitink - The 80-year-old maestro has a gift of breathing air into orchestral textures. Each layer of sound is clear and differentiated, rather than coalescing into a muddy mass - 10th October
  • Light and dark shades of green - The recent death of flamboyant environmentalist Edward Goldsmith has made Harry Eyres think about the past 40 years of the Green movement – where it came from and where it might be going - 3rd October
  • A gash in the fabric of ages - Harry Eyres takes a stand against a plan to drive a motorway through and above the undervalued vineyards of the Mosel - 26th September
  • The richness in Tuscan villages - Harry Eyres revisits the region where he spent summer 30 years ago and realises that the warmth of a greeting can mean more than the splendour of an escutcheoned doorway - 19th September
  • Coming soon: the future - Instead of Futurism, which sounds both silly and sinister at the same time, Harry Eyres prefers an ingenious and wisely modest kind of long-term thinking - 12th September
  • Cinematic poetry - The exceptional poetic depth and density of the first 13 minutes of Bill Douglas’s ‘My Childhood’ has generated a four-hour discussion at the National Film Theatre – 5th September
  • Discontented and dissatisfied - Harry Eyres goes to the Proms to hear Daniel Barenboim conduct his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and concludes that sometimes very high, if not unrealistic, expectations are justified - 29th August
  • Strikers and defenders - A book that takes one back to the innocent dawn of football as a mass spectator sport, makes Harry Eyres sympathise strongly with players’ demands for more money – in 1909, at least - 22nd August
  • Checks and balances - Harry Eyres finds himself more gripped than he had expected while watching a documentary on the French funambulist Philippe Petit - 15th August
  • Raise a glass to Galileo - In an exhibition in Florence, Harry Eyres is struck by the sheer modesty of Galileo’s telescope, hardly bigger than a fold-up umbrella, and his beautiful watercolour sketches of the moon in various phases - 8th August
  • Florence and the good life - Failing to recapture the excitement for culture on a recent trip to the Tuscan capital, Harry Eyres realises that a dull day can be redeemed by a burst of glory at the end - 1st August
  • Armagnac and its brandy - Nothing is entirely predictable in the remote French region, not least the sheer variety of ways, times and places in which one can drink its most famous product - 1st August
  • Only disconnect - Harry Eyres wonders why it takes breakdown and disconnection to achieve an opening up to the world - 25th July
  • Grounded on terra firma - Lord’s is the site of a complex history and conflicting movements: towards enclosure and exclusivity and towards an opening up to the world - 18th July
  • Within you, without you - Profound inner transformation – a more organic, silent but momentous shift in the whole machinery of the self – could help remedy global problems - 11th July
  • In prime position - Defeat in a tennis match teaches Harry Eyres a lesson in groundwork and preparation, but he warns that being too good at manoeuvring has its downside - 4th July
  • ‘The planet’s still working’ - Only 36,000 pairs of swifts now visit the UK, and the reason is within our control. Recent trends in building both offices and houses have eliminated the nooks and crannies necessary for swift nests - 27th June
  • Meanwhile, back in the city - As proven by Meanwhile Gardens in west London, there are crannies in cities all over the world which, with a bit of imagination and will, can be greened - 20th June
  • An antidote to fear and fury - A production of ‘Peter Grimes’, the opera about xenophobia which has conquered the world, sends Harry Eyres wondering if the stranger we are afraid of is really ourself - 13th June
  • Is there a corner for poetry? - The recent media hullabaloo about poetry in the UK has made me question why we ruthlessly marginalise and exile it to a cold place of almost total neglect - 6th June
  • Bookshop backwaters - From the dingy and Dickensian to the profoundly civilised, they are not simply shops – and they are curiously important in the literary culture - 30th May
  • The sour smell of excess - High-claiming MPs are wrong in assuming that frugality is an ancient virtue, no longer applicable in the world of globalised capitalism - 23rd May
  • Our cultural revolution - Harry Eyres is beginning to think that Britain has undergone a cultural revolution of its own, less dramatic than the one in China, but no less far-reaching in its effects - 16th May
  • In mourning for the newly dead - Harry Eyres attends the funeral of a friend who died too young, and is left with a series of untied ends, a jigsaw with missing pieces and unanswered questions - 9th May
  • Time to look and listen - Getting the highest possible yield out of time could turn it into a wasteland in which no moment can be enjoyed for its own sake - 2nd May
  • Spring’s green fingers - Driving out of London at Easter, Harry Eyres realises how many shades of green nature puts out, just for a few short weeks every April and May - 25th April
  • Technique is not for geeks - Harry Eyres works on his tennis and discovers that self-improvement can be a thoroughly enjoyable way of enhancing the expression of one’s humanity - 18th April
  • Souls in search of direction - Reading Obama’s autobiography, Harry Eyres finds it remarkable how the US president overcame ethnic and ideological confusion, and transformed them into an inclusive orientation - 11th April
  • Does Madonna read Nietzsche? - The philospher correctly predicted the inflation of materialism, but didn’t foresee its own collapse and the attempt of world leaders to breathe life back into it - 4th April
  • Listen to the sound of heartfelt thanks - Harry Eyres attends a surprise 50th birthday party for woman who has lived a full unselfish life as a daughter, teacher, mother, wife, member of a church and choir administrator - 28th March
  • London’s first Slow Down festival - Harry Eyres on a programme that offers fulfilling approaches to live the slow life – from intellectual debate to more practical opportunities such as poetry, yoga, walks and even wine tastings - 28th March
  • Why love and nature prevail - Scottish minister-poet Andrew Young believed human civilisations are ultimately subsumed into the much greater natural order - 21st March
  • Echoes of Plato today - Harry Eyres may disagree with Plato’s ideas on democracy but is amazed by the relevance of ‘The Republic’ to our particular dark and uncertain time - 14th March
  • Let the soul sing of joy and heartache - On a recent trip to Spain, I began to think of how much meaning resides in the unique and untranslatable word ‘alegría’ - 7th March
  • When hope is all you have - All over the world, cultures face annihilation or assimilation by dominant forces. But ‘creative adaptation’ could be a third way - 28th February
  • Haydn’s joyful inventions - Unparalleled in fame during his lifetime but seriously underrated today, the Austrian composer’s freshness marks him out as an all-time musical great - 21st February
  • The comfort of strangers - Despite being stranded, Harry Eyres finds himself warmed by a kind of internal glow after making a new acquaintance with whom he talked and went on an excursion to while away the time - 14th February
  • The past is a foreign country - At Vienna Art Week Harry Eyres is repeatedly drawn to probably the most staid and old-fashioned art collection in western Europe, the Kunsthistorisches Museum - 7th February
  • Recovery or reappraisal? - One good thing about a breakdown, you might think, is that it offers the opportunity to evaluate our values - 31st January
  • Freedom and the price of oil - During the first energy crisis in the 1970s, a maverick historian and ecologist pointed to the human mind as the source of both the problem and the solution - 24th January
  • Hope is within reach - In a year of severe contractions in the economy, Harry Eyres decides that yoga is a good place to start stretching and reaching out in a décontracté frame of mind - 17th January
  • Our Horatian winter of content - As darkness falls and the temperature plunges, Harry Eyres does just what the Roman poet ordered in the beautiful ninth poem of his first book of odes - 10th January
  • In memory of soul-searching - In order to restore our own soul, we need to stop destroying the world’s – which includes its habitats, eco-systems and threatened species - 3rd January

Articles: 2008

  • Intelligence service - The crass manner by which Edward Stourton was replaced has produced a great wave of anger at yet another cack-handed mismanagement from the BBC - 27th December 2008
  • Trumpeting the voluntary - Last month my father had to go for daily radiotherapy treatments at a hospital in Oxford – about 35 miles from where my parents live, and too far for him to drive in the circumstances - 20th December 2008
  • Words in Air - This collection gathers the prolific correspondence between poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, about their own and others’ work and the way each was influenced by the other - 20th December 2008
  • Secular lessons from the School of Life - By the end of the Sunday Sermon, Harry Eyres finds himself suddenly yearning for something more serious and heartfelt, where salvation and not just amusement might be at stake - 20th December 2008
  • Challenged by the long read - Harry Eyres’ prejudice against books that are too arcane or convoluted to read with relative fluency has been challenged by Marilynne Robinson’s novel ‘Gilead’ - 13th December 2008
  • Words & Pictures - Although deceptively modest-looking, this is a rewarding and generously illustrated study of the interrelationship of certain English texts and accompanying pictures - 8th December 2008
  • Between yak and yeti - Nowadays artists are expected to articulate exactly what their works are about, which makes Harry Eyres wonder whether Edward Hopper would even scrape a pass degree at art school - 6th December 2008
  • The curse of literalism - Harry Eyres thinks that our tendency to have one-dimensional interpretations on our culture and its key texts puts limits in our capacity to understand ourselves and the world - 29th November 2008
  • Private vice, public virtue - Harry Eyres wonders if London, epicentre of the English vice of hypocrisy, is somewhat ashamed of the Wallace Collection’s prevailing Frenchness and unabashed eroticism - 22nd November 2008
  • Why Alexander truly is great - Lying on the floor in his study with four Chicago paperback translations of Greek tragedies under his head is one of the best things Harry Eyres has found to do recently - 15th November 2008
  • When opposites attract - The oxymoron should not be overused, says Harry Eyres. It is a figure of speech that gains its force from the unexpected, bringing something like an intake of breath - 8th November 2008
  • A composer of nonchalance - Camille Saint-Saëns’ beautifully crafted music can lift spirits untouched by loftier masters and has the priceless quality of being debonair - 1st November 2008
  • A renewed acquaintance - It was not in the academe but in a soot-coated house that Samuel Johnson compiled his lexicon, achieving greatness amid illness - 25th October 2008
  • Switched on but turned off - Harry Eyres sensed trouble while living in a hotel room that seemed designed both to maximise the use of energy and to cut its occupier off from contact with the natural world - 18th October 2008
  • Feet on the ground - Some people have an aversion to the naked sole, but Harry Eyres feels rather the opposite, admiring the silently uncomplaining work that they do and their unsung sensitivity - 11th October 2008
  • South from Granada - Augustus John’s landscape conveys the airy beauty of a rural Mediterranean idyll, which is the true subject of Brenan’s book - 6th October 2008
  • Culture must be brewed long - Harry Eyresis in praise of the political and artistic visions of a British developer and the governor of Lower Austria that seek to assure the long-term sustainability of music and its access to the public - 4th October 2008
  • Autumn and essences - Harry Eyres reflects on the processes associated with the season – ripening that concentrates the goodness in things, and departure marked by anticipation - 27th October 2008
  • Fellowship is a heavenly club - It is not just the tennis Harry Eyres enjoys, but the community at the club. The challenge is extending the feeling beyond his little enclave of grass and AstroTurf - 20th September 2008
  • The flying squad - We tend to think of birds as more distant from us, more mysteriously other, than non-human mammals - 19th September 2008
  • A libation to the last Lafite - I spent the end-of-summer weekend quietly, with my parents at home in the Chilterns - 13th September 2008
  • Are we all star-crossed? - Last week Slow Lane sat at the high table. I was summoned to the annual Salzburg Trilogue to discuss matters of grave import – the challenges facing a globalised world, under the title “Global Visions – Are We Speaking a Common Language?” – with movers and shakers in the three spheres of the arts, business and politics - 6th September 2008
  • Let us restore our full range - Two expeditions, from recent wanderings in the deep interior of Spain, completed days before the terrible plane crash at Madrid airport - 30th August 2008
  • Yes, recession has its blessings - How do you write a piece looking at the upside of economic downturn without sounding smug or heartless, or just out of touch with reality? - 23rd August 2008
  • Let’s hear it for the Proms - Amid much stern diagnosis of the ills afflicting Britain by my colleague Tyler Brûlé, and his recommendations for radical surgery, can I point out something that seems right and doesn’t need changing but could do with a little more trumpet-blowing? - 16th August 2008
  • The rightness of summer - All the words for summer seem beautiful, but the most beautiful to me is the Greek word kalokairi - 9th August 2008
  • The End of Food - review of The End of Food: The Coming Crisis in the World Food Industry by By Paul Roberts - 4th August 2008
  • A touch of artistry - In his underrated travel book Iberia, James A Michener speaks of his feeling of nervousness at being invited to jump up and down on the vaults above Room XII at the Prado, which houses 26 masterpieces by Velázquez - 2nd August 2008
  • County Durham: not the pits - When my friend Helen announced she was holding a significant birthday party in County Durham, 260 miles north of London, there was a certain amount of groaning in the household. Why couldn’t she have the party in Camden Town? - 26th July 2008
  • Live life with a flourish - Forty years ago, America's Summer of Love had already turned sour with the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy - 19th July 2008
  • It’s watershed time for rivers - Not long ago, the passing-bell tolled for the Yangtze River dolphin - 5th July 2008
  • The dangers of banality - Reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961, the political theorist Hannah Arendt coined the phrase "the banality of evil" - 28th June 2008
  • Meet the ancestors - Going to see Ibsen's intense late drama Rosmersholm at London's Almeida Theatre recently, I was struck by two aspects of the play I hadn't fully appreciated when studying it for A-level English - 21st June 2008
  • Reasons we need Chopin - The other weekend BBC Radio 3 held a Chopin jamboree – two days entirely devoted to Poland’s great poet of the piano - 14th June 2008
  • In the days before the flood - Now that the credit crunch and high food and commodity prices have come along and seem here to stay, David Cameron’s Conservatives, according to the British historian and commentator Max Hastings, would be wise to drop all their high-minded guff about the environment - 7th June 2008
  • Pruning vines and verses - Pruning and generally cutting back vegetation is not my natural thing. Unlike my father, who has waged grim war with invasive weeds, ivy and old man’s beard, I have a weakness for letting nature take its course - 31st May 2008
  • The gym won’t fix it - The phrase “taking exercise” has an ambivalent ring for me. It tends to sound admonitory and joyless: you might expect a doctor or an insurance company to urge you to take more exercise - 24th May 2008
  • The heaven in our midst - Ibet you have never heard of John Thornton. You may know someone else of that name but the John Thornton I mean was a 15th-century glazier from Coventry in England. Between 1405 and 1408 he worked on his masterpiece, which still stands in situ. It is the Great East Window of York Minster, the largest medieval stained glass window in existence, and one of the finest - 17th May 2008
  • Touching moments - When I set off for Spain on a life-changing reconnaissance mission in the spring of 1983, my first port of call was Pamplona - 10th May 2008
  • Lessons of an Andean ordeal - A couple of weeks ago, five British girls, four of them gap-year students on an adventure holiday, were killed in a road accident in Ecuador - 2nd May 2008
  • Poetry on prescription - The Renaissance doctor Paracelsus stressed the vital importance of the dose. “All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison - 26th April 2008
  • The real meaning of lunch - In Stephen Sondheim’s musical Company the drunken Joanne raises a toast to “the ladies who lunch/ ... Lounging in their caftans/ And planning a brunch/ On their own behalf/ Off to the gym/ Then to a fitting/ Claiming they’re fat” - 19th April 2008
  • Sound discovery - The other night I was struck by a feeling that sometimes hits me and that I call nostalgia for the real. Walking along London streets I occasionally get a whiff, in my mind's nose, as it were, of pungent woodsmoke and recall an ancient house with a wide fireplace in the hills north of Rome. This night-time nostalgia was not for smells but sounds - 12th April 2008
  • Old haunts, new memories - A city, especially for an impressionable youngster escaping his or her background, can become like a lover. For generations of American writers, fleeing the prairies of the midwest or the ghettos, that city was Paris - 5th April 2008
  • Broken heartstrings - In the wonderfully warm and frank DVD about his life and work directed by Christopher Nupen and recently released by Allegro films, the violinist Itzhak Perlman makes a profoundly thought-provoking comment about the way artists’ personalities are expressed in their work - 29th March 2008
  • Where everything flows - I've known for some time, from observations of expatriates, that Taiwanese people can be surprisingly superstitious. These apparently extremely modern folk, so good at manufacturing high-tech gadgets, go all pre-modern in certain situations - 22nd March 2008
  • Not sure, don't know - I was intending to write a column on uncertainty and unknowing in the humanities. I meant to begin with my one-time teacher, the great ancient historian Moses Finley and his endlessly repeated refrain (which we tried to imitate in his gravelly, chain-smoker's New York vowels): "we just don't know" - 15th March 2008
  • Every step you take - Everyone knows that one number of a postcode in London can change everything - 1st March 2008
  • Does politics begin at 50? - Approaching 50, let me tell you (if you don’t already know), is not at all like coming up to any other decadal landmark - 1st March 2008
  • Uplift at the airport - You might hope that this columnist would travel by leisurely boat through the Panama Canal but he, too, wings it, when work calls, over the great circles close to the melting poles - 23rd February 2008
  • The judgment of Paris, 1976 - When the most momentous wine tasting in history was held, in June 1976 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris, the result was assumed to be a foregone conclusion - 16th February 2008
  • New gang of friends - There's a poem by Seamus Heaney in which he speaks of walking along a Pacific beach and missing some undefinable quality he associates with his native Atlantic - 16th February 2008
  • Heartbreak mountain - Sometimes a premature passing hits you hard. So it was for me, and I guess many thousands of others, with the sudden death of the actor Heath Ledger at 28 - 9th February 2008
  • Safe sex, dangerous love - One of my most heartening recent experiences was tuning in to a series of late-night radio essays about the Roman poet Horace - 2nd February 2008
  • A critical misjudgment - As a schoolboy actor, I played the part of Moon in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Inspector Hound. Moon is the third-string critic, reviewing a dire Agatha Christie-style murder mystery, who finds himself drawn into the drama (the audience sees the critics, watching the action from a mirror auditorium on the far side of the stage) and eventually murdered by the fourth-string critic - 26th January 2008
  • Why morale matters - The only kind of morale that is held to matter much is that of the troops - 18th January 2008
  • Tremendous trifles - I used to be a great works snob and to look down on minor works. When I was 10 or 11 I remember beating time to Beethoven’s Fifth (a major work if ever there was one) and announcing to my mother that I wanted to become a conductor. “What, a bus conductor, darling? How lovely!” replied my distracted parent - 12th January 2008
  • In staying put, came peace - The days at the turn of the year have not always been the happiest for me. Burdened with expectation, they behaved like bad-tempered donkeys, upsetting their own apple-cart with long-stored resentment - 5th January 2008

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