Monday, 28 February 2011

Self-Help Books

I’ll be on Premier’s Drive Time Review panel tomorrow at 3pm with George Luke and (I guess) one other person. We’ll be reviewing:

1) You Can’t Play The Game If You Don’t Know The Rules by Dr Irene Alexander.

2) Beyond The Gates of Splendor (documentary).

3) Hillsong Tour Collection (after four CDs of Hillsong, you may need to hear some minor chords).

We’re still in February and I’ve already read two self-help books this year. Help!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Luise Rainer

A wonderful interview with the gorgeous Hollywood legend, Luise Rainer, on BBC Radio 4. At the age of 101 she is the oldest living Academy Award winner. John Humphrys, on the Today programme this morning, said that she describes her friendship with Greta Garbo during the interview. She doesn’t. But what she does do is talk about Garbo as a kind of concept.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Lost Daphne du Maurier story found after 70 years

I love stories like this one: a literary gem unearthed after so many years. Over the past year I have been collecting newspaper cuttings of similar stories: an 1848 Emily Bronte letter going on display at the Parsonage Museum in Haworth; letters by Ted Hughes being bought by the British Library; a postcard written by a Titanic passenger auctioned at Henry Aldridge and Son; etc. I imagine it was just as thrilling for Ann Willmore to find the lost Daphne du Maurier story in an online publication as it would have been for her to find it in a cemetery of forgotten books.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Love Letters

A sub editor has asked, “Have we lost the art of writing love letters?” in today’s Independent. If the headline had been, “Why we ditched the art of writing love letters” then John Walsh’s piece provides an explaination:

Another favourite approach was the whine of masochism, as the lover suffers torments that his lady love may leave him, and receiving her letters becomes a form of torture. As Denis Diderot, the French encyclopaedia compiler, pointed out in his letter to Sophie Volland in 1759: "How impatiently I waited for it! I am sure my hands trembled when opening it. My countenance changed; my voice altered; and unless he were a fool, he who handed it to me would have said – 'That man receives news from his father or mother, or someone else he loves.' I was just at that minute about to send you a letter expressing my great uneasiness. While you are amusing yourself, you forget how much my heart suffers."

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Diana Souhami on Edith Cavell

Whitbread award-winning writer Diana Souhami talked to me about her latest book on Edith Cavell for a podcast that you can listen to here.

Edith Cavell got around. The French singer Edith Piaf was named after her, as was a car park in Peterborough, a bridge over the Shotover River near Queenstown and a feature on the planet Venus. I wonder if anyone has ever confused Edith Cavell with Mata Hari? Hmm. Probably not.