Friday, 12 June 2009

Adam Thorpe reviewed in FT by RTK

Thorpe is, of course, the author of the acclaimed Ulverton and many other acclaimed novels since. My write-up on his latest, Hodd, appeared in Monday's Financial Times, beginning like so:
"There’s a special thrill to be had from the meeting of a good novelist with a historical figure of mythical proportion. Such was the pleasure in Peter Carey’s reinvention of Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang, which was “true” only if you believe, as did Picasso, that “art is the lie that tells the truth”. Now we have the encounter of Adam Thorpe and Robin Hood, or “Robert Hodd” as he is known in the stylised Middle English of Thorpe’s beguiling new novel..."

Monday, 8 June 2009

Elections/Leaders: Tessa Blackstone keeps it real

With a great swathe of the press and all of the Tory blogs now on Governmental Deathwatch, Tessa Blackstone has just used the Evening Standard to make most of the points that need making about the purported necessity of a General Election in the event of Captain Brown getting himself hoyed off the deck of the Titanic. To wit:
1. 'British general elections are not presidential.' (In other words, the Prime Minister is only the leader of the largest party in parliament.)
2. 'The power to call an election lies with the prime minister alone. A new leader could exert this power but would be wiser to bring in a Bill for fixed-term parliaments, with the election fixed for May 2010. It would remove uncertainty, speculation and the party of government having an advantage.'
There's a lot to be said for the proposed Bill. The feverish, gleeful insincerity of so many who claim to want their change of government right now and for the good of our poor ailing Nation would be seen for so much over-excited babble if only these same boosters were asked to say whether the Nation really, badly needed to go to the polls after the Falklands War, say, or in the middle of Nigel Lawson's boom (rather than, say, in the midst of its bust six months later - the first time I got to personally witness the spectacle of employees of the City of London staring down into pints of beer as though someone had urinated therein)?