Archive for the 'English' Category

“Diamonds on the soles of her shoes”; the Mississippi Delta “shining like a national guitar”: where do those Paul Simon lines come from? The songwriter offered a few pointers in a conversation with the poet Paul Muldoon at the New Yorker Festival, says Maggie Fergusson on More Intelligent Life.

Opening sentence of the week, from Clive James on David Attenborough: So successful are the vertebrates that one of them is making huge television programmes at the age of 87. You can read the rest in his Telegraph column.

A week or so ago I heard the BBC’s political editor say that “We now have 27 leaders sat around a table…” This week I heard a BBC reporter say that “the two-year-old was sat watching television.” In John Lanchester’s novel Capital, I’ve just read the sentence “Shahid was stood at the sink with his […]

I’ve just come back from browsing in Waterstone’s in Wimbledon, where copies of George Orwell’s essay Politics and the English Language were stacked beside the tills. It’s coming up to 110 years since Orwell was born as Eric Blair (June 25), and, because media organisations like round numbers, he and his works are being celebrated […]

A writer should not expect a reader to join in the writing. Clive James, in his Telegraph television review slot this week, lamenting the sloppiness of modern scriptwriting.  

The FT’s Weekend Magazine had an interview with the American writer Richard Ford. He said he didn’t review books because he didn’t trust his own judgement. He went on: Giving a book a bad review is like driving along the road and seeing a hitchhiker and deciding that instead of not picking him up you’ll […]

There’s a lovely line on life as a train journey in a new book about happiness by the Irish writer Michael Foley. According to a review in The Observer yesterday, that journey isn’t aboard “a gleaming Orient Express… into exotic glamour, adventure and excitement”. Instead, we travel on “a rusty old English branch line, puffing […]

The media, predictably, are full of pictures of the Queen’s handshake with Martin McGuinness. More surprising was the opening phrase of David McKittrick’s piece for the London Evening Standard last night, where a missing definite article suggested Her Majesty had been leading a weird double life all these years: “Today’s handshake between the monarch and […]

Has the role of the aircraft sick bag in popular culture been unjustly neglected by academia? I returned this morning from the conference in Madeira of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. En route, I read an interview in El País with that great protest singer Pete Seeger, who talks of how Woody Guthrie, one […]

I’ve spent the past few days thinking over questions to ask travel writers at a session at the Hay Festival. Pondering the  future of travel writing made me think a bit more about the present. I’m often asked by younger freelance writers what sort of pieces we on Telegraph Travel are looking for. “Good ones” […]


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