I received d.p. houston’s poetry collection Boîte de Vers in the post last week. It’s completely unreadable, but not in the sense that it’s bad. It could well be, but I have no idea because it comes in a sealed box, ‘in sloppy hommage to the spirit of Schrödinger’s Cat’. There are apparently five of these boxes in circulation; mine is lettered A. The precise nature of its contents is indeterminate. I could break the seal of strong black tape and open the box, but doing so would alter it. Not least because I would then be required to fill in the attached label with a cross or tick ‘to indicate whether or not the intrusion comes to be regretted’. It feels like a puzzle, or a personality test: what kind of person would open the box?
The first mistake I made when I joined the basketball team in Germany was admitting I spoke the language. It would have been weird not to – it would have been very weird. But sometimes over the course of the year, I imagined what it would be like for people around me (coaches, players) to talk naturally with each other in the expectation that I couldn’t understand them. It would have given me an edge.
The Report of the Children’s Employment Commission, published in 1842, was compiled by Dickens’s friend Richard Henry Horne. The result of a three-year investigation, it was unprecedented, not merely for the level of shocking detail and first-hand evidence, but because it was illustrated. And most of the 26 images were by Gillies.
Saturday’s Times carried on its front page a protracted complaint by the headmaster of Stowe School that Oxbridge was actively discriminating against the beneficiaries of private education, and that any complaint about the staggering overrepresentation of the privately educated in every avenue of British life was born of the same reasoning as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was a particularly inept rendition of a favoured right-wing talking point: that any analysis which talks in terms of groups or classes is already merrily chugging along to the gulag, with precious individuality flattened under its wheels.