Corona Humours VII – Paracelsus – from alchemy to chymistry

I am not intrinsically interested in health. It is part selfish complacency, but I have always felt that a society morbidly interested in healthcare is one lacking an essential confidence – one that is half-hypochondrical, self-pitying, querulously conscious of growing old while sorely missing old religious consolations. So to me the ongoing Corona saga is… Continue reading

Flows of history

Rivers of Power – How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilisations, and Shapes Our World Laurence C Smith, Allen Lane, 356 pages, £20 Geography can be history, and history geography – and sometimes the most obvious things are overlooked. Rivers of Power seeks to make us see beneath the surfaces of arterial waters, and… Continue reading

Corona Humours, Part VI

Reflections on mirrors, reflections in mirrors ‘A look of glass stops you And you walk on shaken: was I the perceived?’ John Ashbery, Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror Lockdown limps into months, and the mirrors in our home-prisons reflect much more than outside’s taunting sunlight, or the last few days’ huge moon. Every time we… Continue reading

Corona Humours – Part V

20th April, 2020 One of the hardest working words of the moment is ‘unprecedented’. The economic toll levied by Corona can certainly be seen as unprecedented. But the disease itself has had all too many predecessors. Over tragic millennia, waves of anthrax, bubonic plague, diphtheria, dysentery, malaria, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox, typhoid, typhus, whooping cough,… Continue reading

Corona Humours II

2nd April 2020 ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ Matthew, 11: 15 The lockdown and consequent grounding of aircraft, lessening of traffic, and closure of factories has made people much more conscious of the daily noises they do hear. Many of these are commonplace – cattle, trees, rain, movements in water, house… Continue reading

Corona Humours

La Peste, as seen from Lincolnshire 30th March, 2020 Excited birds, glossy rabbits, bee queens in quest of nests, marsh marigolds divulging gold, spawn bulging in ponds, clear skies and sunshine, new leaves on trees, white bloom on blackthorn, clean sands and crisp seas unfurling to illimitable distance… …and bitter winds from the east, freezing… Continue reading

Chronicling the Conservatives

The Conservatives – A History Robin Harris, London: Bantam Press, 2012 Robin Harris brings to his account of the Conservative Party not just impressive erudition but also many years’ inside experience of how the party operates and ‘feels’. He is a former director of the Conservative Research Department and government political adviser, and was a… Continue reading

Enoch re-examined

Enoch at 100 Edited by Greville Howard, London: Biteback, 2012 A century after his birth, the self-described ‘Tory anarchist’ John Enoch Powell is still capable of arousing devotion or detestation. After his death in 1998, a major memorial service was held in the Parliamentary church of St. Margaret’s, Westminster (beside the Abbey), attended by many… Continue reading