All the articles posted on this website can be found here, organised in chronological sequence according to their date of writing or first publication.
Hardware store, Marfa, Texas, 22 January 2004
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It’s not just admirers of John Adams’ opera, who have come to believe that western rapprochement with Communist China began with President Richard Nixon’s visit of 1972. I’ve been researching an earlier attempt to lift the ‘Bamboo Curtain’ – this one carried out by Clement Attlee and other leading members of the Labour Party in 1954. The full story of this forgotten mission, which also involved the philosopher A.J. Ayer, the physicist J.D. Bernal, the novelist and classicist Rex Warner, and the artists Paul Hogarth and Stanley Spencer, is reconstructed in my forthcoming book, Passport to Peking, to be published by OUP in October 2010.
I wrote this piece on the disappearance, or otherwise, of the Iron Curtain as a brief ‘essay’ for the BBC World Service’s arts programme, ‘The Strand’. It was broadcast to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of the overcoming of the Berlin wall on 10 November 2009.
I’ve been reading a lot about China recently, which is how I came upon a characteristically rambling volume by Osbert Sitwell, entitled Escape with Me! An Oriental Sketch-Book. He opens this account of his pre-war travels in Cambodia and China by remembering how, as a child, he used to visit his paternal grandmother in her ‘large, honey-coloured’ mansion in Surrey…
An exhibition at Shandy Hall, Coxwold, Yorkshire.
I can’t be entirely sure when this was recorded, but my diary suggests it was on 8 February 2008…
Why do intelligent people sometimes go gaga on radio? And what happened to Melvyn Bragg on the morning he picked up the wrong piece of paper?