I have remarked before that Robert Mugabe was one of the best orators I have ever heard. I am not alone in having been impressed. Below is an assessment of Mugabe’s oratory and personality, by Zimbabwean journalist Jan Raath, published in The Times (London), 12 November 2017, under the headline, “Forty years ago, I too was beguiled by Robert Mugabe, the young guerrilla leader”.
I will treasure the events of yesterday afternoon for the rest of my life. I had driven to the Harare international conference centre to hear a rather dry debate on the impeachment of Robert Mugabe, the man I have been covering for this newspaper since 1975.
Continue reading ‘The personality of Robert Mugabe’
The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.
- Stanley Wells : What Was Shakespeare Really Like? CUP.
- Laura Cumming : Thunderclap: A memoir of Art and Life & sudden Death. Vintage Digital.
- Rory Stewart :Politics On the Edge. Vintage Digital. This is a very well-written memoir of Stewart’s decade in British politics. I met the author during his first election campaign (see my report here), and my impression of him was that he was completely lacking in side. What you saw or heard, was exactly what he was. I wondered then whether someone so up-and-down straight could succeed in a profession often requiring the saying of different things to different audiences. It is telling that before his election, the only politician Stewart says that he had met and admired was David Milliband, who strikes me as similarly straight up-and-down.
In some respects, this book is a record of The Getting of Guile, as he learns how best to manage and manipulate the British civil service, and, and perhaps less successfully so far, British politics. His departure from elected public life is our great loss, and it does not behoove us. I hope he returns.
- Michael Frayn : Among Others: Friendships and Encounters. Faber and Faber. Well-written and sometimes moving vignetts of people Frayn has known in his life. Wished these were longer and there were more of them. The book would have been much better if the last one, with an extended metaphor in poor taste of a human body as a skyscraper, had been deleted.
- Allen Welsh Dulles : Germany’s Underground: The Anti-Nazi Resistance. Da Capo Press. This account is mostly compelling, although marred by the inclusion of entire documents in the main text, instead of selective quotations from them. Dulles was an active participant, when working for the OSS in Bern, Switzerland from November 1942, in various anti-Nazi activities, and collected documents and information as he worked. He was the grandson, nephew and (later) the brother of Secretaries of State.
- Martin Peretz : The Controversialist: Arguments with Everyone, Left Right and Center. Wicked Son. (HT: AS)
- Bruce Beresford : Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to Do This … True Stories from a Life in the Screen Trade. 4th Estate. An interesting account of just a few years in the life as Australian film director. Many names are casually dropped, but that may be simply because Beresford has been around a long time and seems to have known everybody born in the 1940s. And it is not often one comes across the name Takemitsu; Beresford is a lover of classical music.
Continue reading ‘Recent Reading 20’
On 23 January 2023, I was fortunate to see a concert at the Wigmore Hall in London of four piano hands, those of Lucas Jussen and Arthur Jussen. The programme of the Jussen brothers comprised:
Continue reading ‘Pianos with attitude’
Posting some time ago from Tyalgum, in the shade of Mount Warning, led me to think of the mountains that figured in my life. Herewith a list:
- Ashby Hill
- Black Mountain/Galambary
- Mount Barney
- Clarence Peak
- Mount Coot-tha
- Mount Diablo
- Glass House Mountains
- The Kopje
- Mount Kosciuszko
- Mount Lindesay
- Mount Nardi
- Mount Nyangani
- Mount Rainier
- Khan Tengri
- Mount Tibrogargan
- Mont Valerian
- Mount Warning
Herewith a list of concert halls in which I have been fortunate to experience concerts and musical performances.
- The Barbican Concert Hall, London
- Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
- Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane
- Cadogan Hall, London
- Casino Civic Hall, Casino, NSW
- City Recital Hall, Sydney
- Sir John Clancy Auditorium, University of New South Wales, Sydney
- Salle de Flagey, Brussels
- Salle Gaveau, Paris
- Hamburgische Staatsoper, Hamburg
- Hamer Concert Hall, Melbourne
- Ipswich Civic Hall, Ipswich, QLD
- Chapel, King’s College London, London
- King’s Place, London
- Leggate Theatre, University of Liverpool, Liverpool
- City Hall, Lismore, NSW
- Llewellyn Hall, Canberra School of Music, Canberra, ACT
- Little Oratory Chapel, London
- LSO St Luke’s, London
- Auditorium, Maison de la Radio et de la Musique, Paris
- Melba Hall, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, Melbourne
- Milton Court Concert Hall, Guildhall School of Music, London
- Auditorium, St Joseph’s Nudgee College, Nudgee, Brisbane
- Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London
- Duke’s Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London
- Royal Albert Hall, London
- Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
- Concert Hall, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
- Golden Concert Room, St George’s Hall, Liverpool
- Seymour Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney
- Concert Hall, South Bank Centre, London
- Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
- Sydney Opera House Opera Theatre
- Tanglewood, MA
- Theatre des Champs Elysees, Paris
- Sydney Town Hall, Sydney
- Tyalgum Literary Institute Hall, Tyalgum, NSW
- Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney
- Wigmore Hall, London
They are the ambulant cemeteries of their murdered friends; they carry their shrouds as their banner.”
Words of Manes Sperber from Et le Buisson devint Cendre (Paris, 1949), cited by Arthur Koestler in his essay in The God That Failed (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1950), page 64.
The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.
- Bill Browder : Freezing Order: A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, Murder,and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath. Simon and Schuster.
- Bill Browder : Red Notice: A True Story of Corruption, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice. Bantam Press. A gripping and very well-written autobiography of William Browder, son of mathematician Felix (he of Browder’s Fixed Point theorem fame) and grandson of Earl Browder, onetime President of the CPUSA.
- Duncan Mavin : The Pyramid of Lies: Lex Greensill and the Billion-Dollar Scandal. Macmillan. An account, mostly well-written, of the Greensill Capital affair. The company, started by Lex Greensill from a farming family of Bundaberg, Queensland, was based on the clever idea of reverse factoring of supply-chain invoices: lending against invoices from suppliers, not to the suppliers as in regular factoring, but to the receivers of the goods and services being supplied. The receivers are generally larger and more reputable, so the risk to the reverse factoring company should be less than for standard factoring.
The book ends very quickly, without the depth or detail of the earlier chapters, as if the author suddenly became tired of writing.
Continue reading ‘Recent Reading 19’
I was reminded of this newspaper article by Charles Waterstreet on Julia Gillard’s powerful speech against misogyny in the Australian House of Representatives in October 2012. An excerpt:
Some men have been in too many scrums, too many boxing matches, have beaten their heads against too many walls. Of all the words in the whole wide world, Tony Abbott chose – deliberately, it would seem – to use the word ”shame” in his speech on the motion to sack Peter Slipper as speaker. Shame, with all the connotations Alan Jones wrapped around it clumsily weeks earlier, when referring to the Prime Minister’s dead father. Abbott’s use of ”shame” made Slipper’s description of women’s private parts look positively eloquent.
Continue reading ‘Julia Gillard vs Tony Abbott 2012’
The streaming series Young Royals, produced by Netflix Sverige, is a coming-of-age story about teenagers with the unusual feature that the main actors are themselves only teenagers. (Most series aimed at teenagers seem to employ actors in their twenties.) Because of this focus, the reviews of the series I have seen are aimed at parents deciding whether or not they should allow their teenage children to watch it.
Continue reading ‘Friends Best’
The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order. In this edition, the books include several written by Miles Copeland II and his sons, Miles III, Ian and Stewart Copeland, or about them.
- Ian Copeland : Wild Thing: The Backstage – on the Road -in the Studio – Off the Charts: Memoirs of Ian Copeland. Simon and Schuster.
- Miles Copeland II : The Game Player: Confessions of the CIA’s Original Political Operative. Aurum Press. A well-written and fascinating, but often unreliable, account of Miles Copeland’s life. I admire the great intellectual heft and subtlety of political analysis Copeland demonstrates, something he shared with his contemporaries among the founders of CIA. These features stands in great contrast to the simple-minded nature of many of the attacks on intelligence, both from the State Department and the Pentagon in the 1950s, and from the left in the years since.
It is interesting that a book published in 1989, in a chapter about his work in the US intelligence community in the late 1940s, argues that the main thrust of Soviet aggression towards the West was expected even then by Copeland and some of his intelligence community colleagues to be disinformation campaigns (dezinformatzia) directed against the West (page 74).
It was unexpected but very heartening to see how much he despised the Moral Re-Armament (MRA) movement.
Continue reading ‘Recent Reading 18: Copeland Family Edition’