In The Skin Of Uncertainty

Ever since I first came across them, I’ve been haunted by these words from Michael Ondaatje’s In The Skin Of A Lion: “the extreme looseness of the structure of things”. I can’t remember what context they were in – I can’t even remember very much about the book – but they emblazoned themselves on my soul with what has turned out to be pretty solid permanence.

To me, the phrase has always been about embracing uncertainty, about giving oneself up to not knowing, to an absence of control, to smallness, to transience, to greyness. And I suppose that’s why I’ve been dwelling on it a great deal in recent months. Because if there’s one thing the current pandemic has flagged up – and goodness knows, it’s flagged up more than a few – it’s that some people really can’t cope with uncertainty.

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Film Review: The Arbor [dir: Clio Barnard; 2010]

It’s the sort of idea that almost certainly would have been written off as film-making suicide by a market research focus group: make a documentary about a working class playwright who died when she was 29, but instead of showing the actual footage of the interviews you’ve conducted with her relatives, get a group of actors to lip-sync their words in a variety of settings. … Continue reading Film Review: The Arbor [dir: Clio Barnard; 2010]

Spouting Utter Nonsense

Last week, a fair amount of publicity surrounded a speech made by Baroness Warsi at Leicester University. If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, it’s an interesting read and it highlights what I’ve long considered to be a growing problem in UK society. Sadly, I’m not sure how we’re going to solve it. When reasonably well-educated, middle class people feel comfortable spouting utter nonsense … Continue reading Spouting Utter Nonsense

A Few Fundamentalists

Here are a few moments from a recent conversation with an educated, middle-class, thirty-five-year-old English male. It all started with the Middle East, then moved on to the subject of revolutions and then somehow got on to this: He: The problem is that Muslims are being allowed to take over European countries. They want everything their own way. They want to impose their religion on us. It’s like … Continue reading A Few Fundamentalists

Film Review: Peeping Tom [dir. Michael Powell; 1960]

21st century cinema goers aren’t especially shocked by films which depict serial killers venturing into the seedier realms of society to look for their victims. We tend not to be put off by excessive violence. We don’t mind the odd bit of gore or exploitation. That’s why Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom now makes such fascinating viewing. Today’s audiences would probably see it as an intelligent, sharply … Continue reading Film Review: Peeping Tom [dir. Michael Powell; 1960]


I watched Question Time last night and was not surprised to have all my views on the BNP and Nick Griffin totally confirmed. I think everything the party stands for is dangerous and egocentric and I consider Griffin himself to be particularly moronic and reptilian. I was pleased to see that most members of the studio audience seemed to be opposed to him too, and that they … Continue reading White