A Three Pipe Problem (MCV8)

‘What are you going to do, then?’ I asked. ‘To smoke,’ he answered. ‘It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes.’ Arthur Conan Doyle (1891) The term ‘cultural value’ appeared in British policy discourse about 10 years ago, notably in Capturing Cultural Value, a … Continue reading A Three Pipe Problem (MCV8)

The value of everyday evaluation

‘We all began with the best of intentions, and then ran slap into reality. Very quickly, it was evident that the project was altogether impossible.’ So writes Elizabeth White (Director, British Council Azerbaijan) about a production of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy, performed in Baku by Azerbaijani actors in their own language. Her account of the … Continue reading The value of everyday evaluation

I don’t like football. Really.

And it’s not through lack of exposure to the beautiful game. I was taken to a match (Wolverhampton Wanderers led by Derek Dougan) when I was at primary school, where I was also required to participate myself on a far too regular basis. For unaccountable reasons I was once made captain of the Second XI for a … Continue reading I don’t like football. Really.

Cui bloody bono?

The speech of women There is a paradox, acknowledged by the speaker herself, in a woman giving a lecture about how the female voice has been excluded from public discourse since the origins of Western culture. Mary Beard’s lecture, given at the British Museum for the London Review of Books and broadcast on BBC4, was … Continue reading Cui bloody bono?

Well-worn touchstones

As you approach the Acropolis Museum in Athens you see the Parthenon's reflection floating in the dark glass wall of its topmost level. It's an optical trick worthy of the ancient temple builders themselves, bringing the most celebrated monument of European culture from its hill into the city, from the past into modernity, from worship … Continue reading Well-worn touchstones

A small boat on a dark sea

Text of a talk for the Greek EU Presidency conference, "Heritage First! Towards a common approach for a sustainable Europe" • 'Two gross of broken statues' In August this year, Europeans will mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, a conflict that, depending on your view of history, could be said to … Continue reading A small boat on a dark sea