Banksy Blog

WHO IS BANKSY? WHO IS HE? ‘People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible & childish. But that’s only if it’s done properly.’ Possibly the Daily Mail is right and Banksy is a bloke called Robin Gunningham, a native of Bristol, where his street art emerged in the early 1990s. Does it matter who he is? Paradoxically, his anonymity makes him famous. An air of mystery fans media interest in this Pimpernel of the pavements, sneaking out with stencil and spray gun Read More

Battle of Britain 1940-2020 Blog

Britain’s ‘Finest Hour’ IN 1940, with France defeated, Hitler’s planned invasion of Britain [Operation Sealion] was launched on July 16 with sorties against Channel shipping and ports. Three days later Hitler offered peace, but Churchill stiffened his Cabinet’s resolve to fight on. On August 13 Goering, the Luftwaffe commander, switched attacks and launched Adlertag (Eagle Day) against RAF airfields and radar stations. The RAF was losing planes, but more importantly experienced pilots (25% of RAF pilots were lost in two Read More

Classic Firearms Blog

Guns since Waterloo ‘Whatever happens, we have got / The Maxim gun, and they have not’ wrote Hilaire Belloc. At the Battle of Omdurman (1898), where Churchill charged with the 21st Lancers, 50,000 Dervishes were faced by Kitchener’s 25,000 trained troops. Kitchener – ‘a great poster if not a great man’ (Margot Asquith) – had 44 Maxim machine guns. The Dervishes, armed with spears and a few old rifles, were massacred. Kitchener (who, to Churchill’s horror, shot wounded tribesmen) lost Read More

A Day at the Races Blog

A Flutter at the Races Racing is the Sport of Kings and the sport of the people. It has been around since antiquity. By 648 BC the Greek Olympics featured mounted horse races. Chariot races, often violent spectacles fatal to riders and horses, were the rage in Ancient Rome, topping the bill with Gladiators v Lions. As now, the best seats went to the smarter or richer types. The difference today is social mobility. If you have the money you can Read More

Horror Movies Blog

Spine Tinglers! Fear of things that go bump in the night is the basis of all horror movies. John Carpenter, the director of the Halloween series, explained the ‘very specific secret’ of a good horror film. ‘It should be scary’. Publishers were the first to twig that people would pay to be scared witless. It led to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), the macabre tales of Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Georges Méliès, a French film pioneer, made Read More

The Art of the Japanese Print Blog

‘All my work is based to some extent on Japanese art…’ So said van Gogh in 1888. He and the Impressionists discovered Japanese art through prints sent to Europe as mere wrapping paper (!) in packages. Their palette was transformed. Compositions adopted the low horizon, or none at all. Colour and line became crucial and would define the work of later masters, like Matisse and Picasso who revered Utamaro and Hiroshige. Monet even created a Japanese garden, Giverny. For van Read More

The RAF 1918-2018 Blog

‘If we lose the war in the air we lose the war and lose it quickly.’ FM Bernard Montgomery If sea power and the might of the Royal Navy were key to victory in WW1, the tactical use of air power came to dominate the Western Front. Without it artillery fired blind and infantry attacked blind. In WW2, as Monty realised, to surrender initiative in the air meant defeat. Air power won the war. The RAF was the most powerful Read More

Bird Playing Cards, Blog, Travel USA

Travel USA Blog

‘As I was walking a ribbon of highwayI saw above me an endless skyway,I saw below me a golden valley;This land was made for you and me.’Woody Guthrie Americans discovered travel in the 19th century, when trains first stretched across the landscape. But travel was on roads of iron, and many of the ‘golden valleys’ were untamed. The ‘endless skyway’ was only tamed in the 50s when American enterprise, American business, made air travel affordable. ‘What is good for General Read More