Giving Up on The Religion


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On the plane to Malta, I began reading Tim Willocks’ The Religion, one of a few Siege-themed novels I’d purchased in view of the journey. I rather liked the prologue, and my first glimpse of Grand Master La Valette and Sir Oliver Starkey, and the preparations for the siege.

If I  was tempted to raise an eyebrow at La Valette’s life-or-death insistence that they must have Tannhauser at all costs… well, he is the hero, after all, and he’s been a Janissary for part of his life – so he must be in the thick of things, and there is some sort of reason for it, right? Continue reading


The Tale of the Strolling Queen


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We had Of Men and Poets again, last week. A one-off performance in the small garden of the small Virgilian museum in the small town where we like to think Virgil was born. On paper, it was perfect: the summer evening, the right place…

True, because of a couple of last-minute substitutions, and because it came in between other things, Nina settled on a reading, rather than a full performance. But we’ve done this before: it’s still lovely to see, and very effective, so nobody worried a whit.

But perhaps we should have. Continue reading

Clara and the Maize Sultan


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I have, o Readers, a riddle for you: How is maize like an Ottoman Sultan?

Let me tell you a story. Do you remember Ugo Foscolo and his Salamini/Little Sausages? Do you remember as both I and my friend Dave in the comments wondered how on earth could he have made such a tragedy-killing blunder?

Well, it may be that I know just how… Continue reading

Sunshine Blogger Award!



And so, my friend Dave over at Karavansara nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award… In truth, he did some ten days ago – but back then I was swimming in chaos, what with Shakespeare in Words approaching fast, and two talks, and everything else. So I asked leave to give a delayed response: and here we are.

Thank you very much, Davide – for the award itself, and for the patience… Continue reading

The Mystery of the Missing Cloak


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Caesar’s cloak is missing.

Not that it’s a real cloak, either – just a large square of thick, dark red fabric. In Shakespeare in Words it does double duty: it is the cloak – the one we all know, the one Caesar first put on one summer evening in his tent – and also stands for the body. And it’s perfectly sized, and doesn’t reflect light, and always falls in good-looking folds… And it is missing. Continue reading

The “No, You’re Crying” Blogathon: Sniffling for Cyrano


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This post is my entry for the “No, You’re Crying” Blogathon, an event hosted by Moon in Gemini – about our favourite tearjerker films…

What is it that makes us cry, at the movies or elsewhere? Whenever the question crops up, I’m reminded of Uncle Vernon in An Awfully Big Adventure, explaining how the lowest notes of the male voice automatically trigger his lachrymal sacs… Continue reading