The writer and director of Bitter Lake has a new film that looks even more interesting and disturbing in equal measures:

“HyperNormalisation tells the extraordinary story of how we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and confusion – where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed – and have no idea what to do. And, where events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control – from Donald Trump to Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless migrant crisis, and random bomb attacks. It explains not only why these chaotic events are happening – but also why we, and our politicians, cannot understand them.”

Seven Brides for Seven Rapists?

Currently reading Mary Beard’s hugely enjoyable SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome. One of the early surprises to emerge is the connection between between the legendary ‘Rape of the Sabine Women‘ (or ‘Abduction of’ as in Poussin’s representation below), and the musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.


According to Beard:

“[The rape] is a scene that has been reimagined in in all kinds of different ways, and media, throughout history. The 1954 musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers parodies it (in the case, the wives are abducted at an American barn raising).”

Now, I’ve never seen the musical, basically because every time I’ve seen a few minutes of it on TV, it has made me groan loudly and reach for the remote control to rescue me from its sheer cheesiness. Strange to think that the idea of this ‘family favourite’ sprang out of the story of something so dark.

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

It’s the 100th anniversary of the bloodbath known as the Battle of the Somme.


My commute takes me through Waterloo Station, and this morning saw the strange appearance of what I first took for ghosts, but who were in fact men dressed as soldiers to silently mark the date. I felt a bit shy of taking photos, but the press and Twittersphere have made up for this.

There have been some great books on ‘The Great War’ and some not so great films, but it’s the poetry that we remember.

Anthem for Doomed Youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
      Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
      The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.
(Wilfred Owen)