Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2013

Domestic vices

I have just discovered that one of my tutors contributes marvellous posts on tea to a culture blog. As befitting Sally, a curator of a moveable salon of former pupils, artists, and literary junkies, these posts are evocative of a social past. And they further evoke generously articulate comments about readers’ own tea experiences.

Directly after reading her posts, I went down to make myself a thimbleful of coffee, which I tell myself I need to do in order to avoid a headache the next morning. (For the record, A. believes I make this up.) As I washed the caffetiere and brought out from the cupboard my little ceramic eggshell blue pot with COFFEE on the outside and Taylor’s CafĂ© Brazilia inside, I began to think about the culture of coffee and the society of its drinkers.

Coffee is dark, ambitious, the drink of workers, of pioneers; and it’s the drink of poseurs, of salons, of fashionable 18th century Londoners gathering to exchange rumours, scandal, and political opinions. Here is Addiso…

The Pleasures of Father Brown

When the BBC showed their new series of GK Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries in January, featuring the lovably familiar mug of Mark Williams, better known in the comforting role of dear Mr Weasley, I felt that at last I would acquaint myself with Chesterton. I have come across him before in passing – either in his relation to CS Lewis, a figure who hovered over my growing up like an ancestor, or as a patron saint of the literary journal where I worked for six months – but was never familiar with his work.

But this BBC incarnation - which, to my surprise, has received a commission for a second series – is no way to get to know the clerical sleuth or his author. Even before I read a single Father Brown story, it was clear that the adaptation was dull, blunted, amplified, and misshapen. With additions and new characters to stretch out Chesterton’s jewels into forty-five minute segments, the series drafted a Keep Calm and Carry On tea-and-bunting brigade, resetting the stories in th…