The history of art is now history.


AS IF THE chattering classes didn’t have enough to worry about, another little storm has been rumbling around their skies to disturb their quinoa-based mindfulness. AQA, the last exam board in the UK to offer art history as an A-Level, has decided to drop it. The History of Art A-Level is now history.

Source: The Fortnightly Review.

There’s art and there’s history in my book as well.

“Paradise”, a poem for National Poetry Day. #nationalpoetryday #poems #poets #poetry


Paradise is various and has no ghosts;
in it there is nothing to remember.

Only children can live there, unknowing,
part-time, between ordinary terrors.

Perhaps it is one great garden, rampant
with green, with fruit that force themselves

through blossom that’s still on the branch.
There must be water – a stream, a beck, a river.

It could be a street, the tap of a raindrop
releasing the spirit of warm paving stone,

the angle of shadow across bright red brick,
the smell of a warm car parked in a market place.

Fruit and flower still force themselves in,
through cracks in brick and kerbstone,

in guttering and old ledges, high up.
The animals, too, they walk, fly and crawl

as if they had never been away, flies
in the kitchen, black clouds of starlings

that turn between buildings, cat in the hedge,
woodlouse and spider in corners overlooked.

All built flimsy on earth, its deep miles
of rock and lava, its delicate blue membrane of air

all of a piece as we hurtle as debris away
from the lost beginning of the universe.

To be there would be to remember nothing,
to walk in the weaponless fields

before the clock had started. Now it’s only
sensed – in the movement of limbs into water,

in the whirr of a sparrow’s wings, perhaps,
or a sudden scent of dogrose, or something that

slowly develops, like the face of a friend
to a patient doused in amnesia, after a crash.

For someone it’s happening now, for the first time;
like that boy and his dog who tumble and run

down a sloping field of wheat, leaving dark trails
the wind cannot smooth away as evening come on

and motorway drivers flick on their lights,
eager for static destinations –

all of them moving through the in-between hours
when the glancing traveller catches

figures on forecourts like golden statues.
And when the boy who has cake for the asking

becomes the man who must struggle for his bread
he’ll think he lived in Eden once or twice

in a time when he could roam between stream and street
and everything lay before him like a sloping field of wheat.


Michael Blackburn. Published in The Ascending Boy, Flambard Press, 1999.

UK Supreme Court rules against Scotland’s Name Person scheme.

Scotland’s Named Person scheme has been ruled unlawful by the UK’s Supreme Court.

The Court referenced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its decision:

Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.

Source: United Kingdom Supreme Court

An empire of scoffers. #CurrenteCalamo

IT MAY BE well over fifty years since Dean Acheson made his famous statement that “Great Britain has lost an Empire but not yet found a role” but it still proves useful to the intelligentsia as a stick with which to beat any upstart patriots…

Source: The Fortnightly Review

Sometimes, politically, the adage “if in doubt, do nowt” is the best advice. #CurrenteCalamo

POLITICAL LIFE SEEMS to be a series of avoidable misjudgements. Blair’s decision to take Britain into the Iraq War, the decision by the Labour Party to allow their leader to be chosen by all and sundry who coughed up three quid, Cameron’s decision to chance everything on a referendum, all resulted in a deluge of unintended consequences and all were avoidable.

Source: The Fortnightly Review.