Archived entries for Home

Bruce Springsteen, Hyde Park (14 July 2012)

At a time when the superficial has become the norm, men and women of substance are like rays of sunlight streaming through dark grey clouds. Governments throughout Europe are allowed to plough on largely critically unchallenged with economic policies that exacerbate a situation they say they are trying to resolve, well-paid barristers use sarcasm as a legitimate form of defence in  high-profile criminal cases, and the masses use the word ‘LOL’ like a full-stop, a disclaimer for any serious thought. Bruce Springsteen is so charismatic and talented he would stand out like a shining beacon in any age, but against the backdrop of fluff that passes for modern life, he is like a saviour that has risen from the streets, a leader and man of the people at the same time. Continue reading…

Olympics: A Games of Two Halves

With his book offering a blueprint for a better Olympics published this week, author Mark Perryman summarises his Five New Rings, as an alternate model.

Seb Coe and the London Olympics Organising Committee, Cameron and his hapless Minister of Culture, Jeremy Hunt, their predecessors, Brown, Blair and Tessa Jowell. All of them cling to a bipartisan consensus that everything to do with the Olympics is fine, nothing the International Committee and their sponsors demand needs to be questioned. It was a consensus which in London managed to unite those otherwise polar opposites, Boris and Ken, too, in solid agreement that the Olympics would be without doubt a good thing for the city.

Continue reading…

Alfred Hitchcock

Let us look

Hitchcock. The word sends chills down the spine of movie lovers around the world. What a name and what a man but where does the man stop and the movies begin? Hitchcock was his movies and so was his desire to entertain through pure cinema. So let us delve into his life the only we can, through the pictures he made. Let us look, as he allowed us to in Psycho when he put us in the place of Anthony Perkins looking at Janet Leigh during her final shower – she was getting cleaner right before an audience getting dirtier and a director who was only to pleased to accommodate in revealing those secret desires. Let us look deep into someone, not like the crowd in the tennis scene in Strangers On A Train who are looking left to right at the volleys and lobs but like Robert Walker’s Bruno who we see staring at Farley Granger’s Guy Haines, a chasm of a stare, a look that says I know what you’re capable of and I’m going to make you think terrible things. Let us look, like James Stewart in Vertigo onto Kim Novak and watch as she changes into someone else and back again; a burning look, the look of Alfred Hitchcock. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: The Chosen Few

Ten days ago football blogger Tom Bodell named the men’s squad he would take to the Olympics as part of his series for The Substantive covering the men’s football team GB for London 2012. Today he reflects on Stuart Pearce’s eighteen, and where they differed.

Stuart Pearce’s Team GB has been announced and doubtless there were a few surprises in there, in particular certain big names that didn’t make the cut. Somewhat unsurprisingly though, Psycho and I only agreed on eight of the 18 names selected. Continue reading…

Historical Fiction

In the latest in her series on Themes for The Substantive, Joanne Sheppard writes about Books on Historical Fiction, including works by Hilary Mantel, Michel Faber, Diana Norman and AS Byatt.

Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, a sequel to her Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, has recently arrived in bookshops in a flurry of hype. I haven’t read it yet, so I couldn’t say whether the excitement about its publication is justified, but frankly, if it’s even half as compelling a read as Wolf Hall, it will be worthy of any praise heaped upon it.

James Wood, a professor of literary criticism at Harvard University and also a reviewer of books for the New Yorker, recently claimed that the historical fiction is “a somewhat gimcrack genre not exactly jammed with greatness.” I don’t know anything about James Wood, and based on that statement I don’t believe I want to, but I rather wonder what his definition of “greatness” is.

In fairness, Wood did like Wolf Hall, at least – and rightly so. Wolf Hall is one of those historical novels that manages to be both intimate, minute in focus and yet also broad in scope. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s June 2012 Film Round-up

Ally Clow looks at Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the French film Polisse, the start-studded Snow White & The Huntsman and a treasure from Orson Wells.

Every two years, the cinema industry (and a few others) reel in anticipated horror at 22 men kicking a ball around a patch of grass. At this point, the box office crumbles like England when faced with penalty-kicks and apart from the opening weekend of June, when Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Prometheus boosted the UK numbers by 25% year on year, the remainder of the month was an average of 25% down on 2011 due to a dearth of major new releases in the face of the football. Continue reading…

Euro 2012: Final

The progression of a game based on passing and moving has developed over the years, with the Hungary team of the 40s and 50s, and the push-and-run Tottenham team of the same era both achieving landmark successes. Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff developed Total Football in Amsterdam and Catalonia, and Cruyff’s own dream team as Barcelona Manager was an embodiment of his philosophy. But these last two years, with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona winning the 2010/11 Champions League at Wembley, followed by Spain’s record breaking Euro 2012 triumph, have signalled a new milestone, with Sunday night’s win an anti-dote to the anti-football success of Chelsea in May. Continue reading…

Euro 2012: Semi-finals

With the complacent standard of punditry we have all become accustomed to from him, ahead of England’s quarter-final against Italy, Alan Hansen said Mario Balotelli hadn’t achieved anything in the game yet. At the age of 21 he has actually already been a member of four league title winning squads in addition to being being part of squads that have won the Champions League, the FA Cup, and the Coppa Italia. And in the first forty-five minutes of the semi-final against Germany on Thursday he did more on an International stage than Hansen did in a lifetime. Continue reading…

GB Football Team: Selection

As David Beckham reveals he hasn’t been selected to play for Team GB in the London 2012 games, Tom Bodell names the 18 he would now pick if he was Manager in his latest piece on the subject for The Substantive.

With the London Games now less than one month away the excitement is clearly mounting. The tickets which I successfully applied for, synchronised swimming & dressage (the excitement is palpable in my household), have arrived and Team GB selectors are making and breaking the dreams of those who have been working towards London 2012 for any number of years.

One group of athletes that hasn’t been confirmed yet is Stuart Pearce’s Team GB football squad. Hope Powell announced her women’s squad 48 hours ago but as yet there is nothing more than newspaper speculation over the identity of the 18 included.

As I sit down to write this piece, David Beckham has just announced he has not made the cut. The general consensus is however that Welsh pair Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs constitute two-thirds Team GB’s ‘over-age’ quota and that Manchester City right-back Micah Richards has been included also. Would they make my 18 though? Here goes… Continue reading…

Olympics: Internationalism

Mark Perryman returns back from the Ukraine following England’s exit on penalties against Italy, and considers how national identity and internationalism co-mingles in sport, and will continue to do so at London 2012.

David Hemery burning his way round the track to victory in the 400m hurdles, Mexico 1968. Mary Peters defying gravity as she hauls her frame over the high jump bar to lift pentathlon Gold in Munich, 1972. David Wilkie winning in the pool, Montreal 1976. Coe and Ovett enjoying 1500m and 800m glory, Moscow 1980. Decathlete Daley Thompson acting the golden cheeky chappy, Los Angeles 1984. Great Britain beating Germany in the men’s hockey final, Seoul 1988. Christie and Gunnell triumphant on the track at Barcelona 1992. Steve Redgrave promising he’d never be seen near a boat again after winning his fourth straight Gold with Matthew Pinsent at Atlanta 1996, before doing precisely that to win his fifth and final Gold, once more with Pinsent, at Sydney 2000. Kelly Holmes grabbing an eye-popping 800m and 1500m golden double against all the odds in 2004. Hoy, Pendleton, Adlington and Ohuruogu leading Team GB’s Gold medal charge to fourth in the Beijing 2008 Medals Table. Continue reading…



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