MONTHLY BLOG 152, SHORT AND CHEERFUL MEDITATIONS UPON RETURNING TO LIVE IN A (currently) TEMPERATE CLIMATE

Returning from great heat of Rome to live in a temperate climate has made me appreciate the great merits of fresh cool air, breezes, rain, and clouds, as never before.

First of all: fresh cool air. Breathe deeply. Wonderful. As a Danish proverb observes: ‘Fresh air impoverishes the doctor’. Then breezes and wind: anything from the lightest zephyr to tempestuous gales…

MONTHLY BLOG 151, Reflections upon Roaming in Rome, after a Return Visit to The City

Rome is a matchless city for reflective walkers. Ok – best to choose a time of year when the heat is not too intense. And essential not to be in a hurry. But for those who like to stroll, to take in the views, and to reflect upon the workings of time, Rome is matchless…

MONTHLY BLOG 150, Tribute to the Gracious International City of Geneva – Historic Home of Three Hegemonc Radical Thinkers – and, Additionally, Thronged with Sparrows

Reflections upon Geneva, prompted by a recent visit (late May 2023): Geneva is a gracious city, situated at the point where the River Rhône rushes headlong out of Lake Geneva en route for its journey to the Mediterranean. The city is full of trees, and the trees are full of sparrows….

MONTHLY BLOG 149, Tracking Down The Fugitive History of the Body Louse

Eighteenth-century Britons knew all about body lice. But – the subject was rarely mentioned. It was not just polite company that avoided any reference; but people in the wider society too. Body lice – those tiny human parasites – were well known as itchy, infernal nuisances…

MONTHLY BLOG 148, Tracking down Eighteenth-Century Optimists and Pessimists in order to write The Georgians

Many people have asked, since the publication of my book on The Georgians1 , why I note on the dust-cover that I am an optimist. There is a reason (apart from the fact that it’s true). But to explain, I need to take a step back. So please bear with me while I tell you first about how I decided to introduce my cast of eighteenth-century Britons…

MONTHLY BLOG 147, A Great Painted Tribute to an Eighteenth-Century Cultural Ambassador between Global East & West

As British sailors and explorers increasingly travelled the world in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so the public back home clamoured to read all about it. Fictional fantasias like Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) became instant best-sellers…

MONTHLY BLOG 146, Towards Democracy: The Significance of Britain’s Eighteenth-Century Electorate

Democracy is not a flawless form of government. Nor do all democracies survive for all time. Nonetheless, representative democracies uphold the ideal notion of a rational politics, in which all citizens have an equal vote – all exercise their judgment in choosing representatives, who in turn vote to run the country on behalf of their fellow citizens – and all calmly accept the outcome of a majority vote…

We Can Do It. Womens symbol of female power and industry. Doodle cartoon woman with grl pwr tattoo.

MONTHLY BLOG 145, Being a Citizen whilst Living under a Hereditary Monarchy

It was infuriating twice over: firstly, to be informed by a contributor to the New York Review of Books that the British people are ‘subjects, not citizens’;1 and, secondly, to realise that my protesting Letter to the Editor, sent twice in case it went astray first time round, is not going to be published in the NYRB columns…

MONTHLY BLOG 144, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 12: Celebrating the annual late-November Jonathan Swift Festival in the City of Dublin, where the Anglo-Irish wit, satirist and cleric was born and where he served as Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral from 1713 to 1745.

Where does humour come from? It’s a great question to ask, when contemplating the life and times of the twelfth hero in my year of Georgian commemorations. The Anglo-Irish Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) was an exceptionally sharp and witty man. Many jokes and wisecracks in circulation throughout the eighteenth century turn out, upon close inspection, to have derived from Swift.

Sarah Siddons, née Kemble (1755-1831), in expressive pose, in print by J. Caldwell after W. Hamilton line engraving (1789): National Portrait Gallery NPG D10715

MONTHLY BLOG 143, A YEAR OF GEORGIAN CELEBRATIONS – 11: Celebrating annual Sarah Siddons Award for Distinguished Achievement, given annually, from mid-November 1952 onwards, to best performer on Chicago stage

The Chicago acting award for successful women on stage, named after the celebrated Georgian thespian Sarah Siddons (1755-1831),1 had a most unusual start in life. Over two hundred years had passed without any special move to celebrate her undoubted achievements….