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Hancock’s Half Hour, Episode 2: The Yellow Socks

Days ago these were just yellow socks. Now they are the Socks of the Heartless Philanderer. Yellow socks have been given a bad name. Some regret this, while others say yellow socks were never a great addition to a man’s wardrobe. Will yellow socks come to be known as “Hancocks”, eternal badges of shame? Or […]

Hancock’s Half Hour, Episode 1: The Ministerial Code (Cabinet Office, 2019)

The Hancock Scandal presents an ideal opportunity to revisit the Ministerial Code, a document setting out the standards of conduct expected of ministers and how they discharge their duty. The full document – only 36 pages – can be read here. Below are two important sections: first, the foreword by Boris Johnson; second the Seven […]

One Britain One Nation: Echoes of Early British Fascism in OBON

June 25 is OBON Day, a new adventure in national pride set up by OBON, the “One Britain One Nation” movement. On Friday, thousands of children equipped with Union Jacks will sing the OBON anthem, One Britain, One Dream, the rousing chorus of which is “We are Britain / And we have one dream / To unite all people / In […]

UK National Yacht – Plato’s ‘Ship of Fools’.

The Prime Minister is no mean classicist and will therefore recall Book VI of Plato’s Republic. It contains the famous “ship of fools” allegory, illustrating the problems of governance prevailing in a political system not based on expert knowledge. It is of great relevance not only to the ludicrous UK National Yacht proposal but also […]

Degas and Horses

The following extract, from Degas et l’impressionisme by Robert de la Signeranne, contains illuminating comments on dance but also some key observations on “movement” in Degas’ work as a whole. For example, he refers to Degas’ racehorse paintings which demonstrate just as great a facility in capturing movement and energy as the ballet pieces. Signeranne […]

Hello, Mr. Chips: a solution to the “English Degrees” problem.

This morning the author Michael Rosen tweeted that “Those of us who work in the field of literature in education should be worried. Fewer English A level and degree students, leaves literature in the hands of people who see ‘English’ (at all levels in education) purely as a matter of ‘getting things right’.” This was […]

A Nightingale in the Trenches – May, 1915

This post celebrates the tragically brief life of a less widely-known Old Wykehamist, A. D. ‘Douglas’ Gillespie, who was killed on the Western Front in 1915. For more Wykehamists, click here. Douglas’s letters home were published shortly after his death as Letters From Flanders and greeted with great acclaim. At the foot of this post […]

Enid Blyton and Lady Chatterley’s Lover

My favourite Enid Blyton story (about her, not by her) is of when Penguin Books tried to enlist her support prior to the Lady Chatterley’s Lover obscenity trial in 1960. It gives a very clear picture of how socially and intellectually divided Britain was at the time. Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications […]

If Enid Blyton had written The Magnificent Seven… an excerpt.

No, GB News. Enid Blyton was not behind The Magnificent Seven #GBNews pic.twitter.com/JB0ETxyDlb — GBNews Fails (@GBNewsFails) June 17, 2021 Rebecca Hutson, a British TV presenter, mistakenly said that Blyton had written The Magnificent Seven. What if she had? An excerpt: When Chris, Chico and the other chums arrived at the village, they helped the […]

The Little Black Doll (not the Enid Blyton version)

Below is The Little Black Doll, a 1909 short story by Lucy Maud Montgomery that long predates the notorious Enid Blyton book of the same title. Montgomery is best known for her bestselling book, Anne of Green Gables. Many of her books and stories are based on her own unhappy childhood, and The Little Black […]