The editors' blog
~ Posted by Nicholas Barber, April 25th 2014
As far as students of British situation comedy are concerned, nothing beats Tony Hancock’s sparkling 1950s radio show, “Hancock’s Half Hour”. Written by the peerless Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, it was a bold departure from the tuxedoed variety-show comedy which was the norm at the time, weaving instead the “frustrated, down-at-heel, male flatmates” thread which has run through the British sitcom ever since, from “Steptoe And Son” (also written by Galton and Simpson) to “Only Fools And Horses” to “Men Behaving Badly” to “Peep Show”.read more »
~ Posted by Rosie Blau, April 23rd 2014
I didn’t sleep much last year. I’ve never suffered from insomnia and I rarely have problems dropping off. But I had a baby who resisted even extreme efforts to sleep train him. In some phases he was waking every 45 minutes through the night. That meant I was too. Nine months in, he and I had barely slept a full night through. My brain felt as though all its connections had been loosened: words were dismembered between thinking and speaking and attempting to remember something was like trying to fish an eyelash out of water.read more »
~ Posted by Simon Willis, April 23rd 2014
Earlier this month, more than 700 people packed into the Union Chapel in Islington to hear Eleanor Catton interviewed by Robert Macfarlane. Last year Catton, who is 28, became the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize, with her novel "The Luminaries". Macfarlane, who writes the Landscapes of the Mind column in Intelligent Life, was chairman of the judges who awarded it to her. It was, as the travel writer Colin Thubron said as he introduced Catton and Macfarlane, "a unique interview"—not least because Macfarlane must be the only person in the world to have read the novel's 800 pages four times. They began by talking about the coastal landscape of "The Luminaries" (which Macfarlane had just written about in his column), before moving on to the book's intricate astrological structure, the psychology of Jung, and how love and money are opposites.read more »
~ Posted by Samantha Ellis, April 18th 2014
I’ve long had a hunch that "Jamaica Inn" was Daphne du Maurier’s gift to "Wuthering Heights" fans who had got into trouble trying to find their own Heathcliffs. While Emily Brontë makes Cathy Earnshaw choose between bad, irresistible Heathcliff and milquetoast Edgar, du Maurier gives her heroine Mary Yellan a better choice. Just as it looks like Mary might fall for Joss Merlyn, who’s not just a hard-drinking, rotten-hearted ship-wrecker but also her uncle by marriage, along comes his brother Jem, a sexy horse thief, who is wild and wicked, but also hopeful and kind. So my first question about the BBC’s new adaptation is: are Joss and Jem sufficiently fanciable?read more »
~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, April 17th 2014
INTELLIGENT TUNES: six good songs for your iPod
Elbow: New York Morning. Subtle, stirring, excellent.read more »
Asgeir: Torrent. Rousing folk-pop from Iceland’s bright new star. His album, “In the Silence”, is outstanding.
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots. Refreshingly odd.
Darlene Love: Lean on Me. One of many reasons why “20 Feet from Stardom”, the tale of Love and other backing singers, deserves its Oscar.
Joan As Police Woman: The Classic. Time for something we didn’t know we were waiting for: the doo-wop revival.
Neneh Cherry: Across the Water. Just voice, drums and a rap, which turns into a beautifully stark ballad.
~ Posted by Melanie Grant, April 16th 2014
For one week every spring, the usually slumberous Swiss town of Basel gets wound right up. Baselworld, the biggest watch and jewellery fair on earth, sets up its stalls: the Time Lords have come to town.read more »
~ Posted by Lucy Farmer, April 11th 2014
As journalists we are naturally fond of punctuation. Following our latest Big Question, we have discovered that readers of Intelligent Life are too. Our question was seemingly benign: what is the best punctuation mark? But those strange little squiggles kindled some high passions. We asked six writers to pen a plea for their favourite, and then invited readers to vote in our online poll. Each had its cheerleaders, but there was one champion: the semi-colon. It’s invaluable for “those of us whose thoughts digress”, said the novelist Claire Messud. 27% of voters also can’t live without it.read more »
~ Posted by Tim de Lisle, April 10th 2014
Some people like to do up a whole home in one go if they can; others just change the carpet one year and the bathroom the next. It’s much the same with magazines. Intelligent Life has not had a redesign since it went quarterly in 2007, but the look and feel have evolved quite a bit, along with the contents (and the frequency). For this issue we’ve made a change which may already have hit you between the eyes, because it involves our front door.
~ Posted by Morag MacInnes, April 10th 2014
I live in the Orkney Islands, off the north-east coast of Scotland. We straddle the 59th parallel north, along with southern Alaska and St Petersburg. There are 70 small islands here, 20 of them inhabited, and if you’re an archaeologist you’ll be aware of the Neolithic stone village of Skara Brae, older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids. I’m looking at it right now, out of my window.read more »
~ Posted by Anthony Gardner, April 7th 2014
A few months ago I reported on a talk about sleep at the How To Academy in London which suggested four basic rules. The subject obviously struck a chord—or perhaps a midnight chime—with readers, for it proved to be one of the most popular articles on the website in 2013. But the organisers, John Gordon and Frances Wilson, felt that speaker had "failed to engage" with the bleary-eyed attendees by not asking us about our own insomnia, so we were all recently invited back to hear another expert, Dr Guy Meadows, head of the Sleep School.read more »