In Knock

Father Brian McKevitt delivered the homily at Knock Basilica in County Mayo on Sunday. The service was billed as an All Ireland Act of Reparation, a communal act of repentance on behalf of those of us who voted Yes in the referendum on 25 May. Ireland, Fr McKevitt said, has become a ‘pro-choice’ society, where people have decided that either God does not exist or is irrelevant, and are making their own decisions about what is right or wrong. ‘I will go to Mass on Sunday, if I choose,’ he said. ‘I will stay with my spouse, if I choose. I will look after my children, if I choose. I will marry a person of the same sex, if I choose. I will even end the life of an unborn child, if I choose.’ More »

On Boris Johnson

William Davies, 8 March 2018:

The political weather in Westminster has been made over the past two years by Boris Johnson, a man whose only apparent goal is to make the political weather. More »

The Press v. Raheem Sterling

Last season Raheem Sterling was a linchpin of the best club football team that England has seen in at least a decade. Manchester City smashed records, winning 100 points and scoring 106 goals, 18 of which came from Sterling (he assisted a further 11 of them). He is one of the best footballers of any nationality currently playing in this country. He is also the subject of a relentless campaign of abuse in the English media which deploys racist tropes about young black men in order to put him down. More »

Totally Repugnant

On 8 December 2005, after a four-day case involving 19 barristers, the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords (as the forerunner to the Supreme Court was unglamorously known) gave judgment in A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2). The seven law lords laid down a rule of seemingly great importance: that evidence which was – or was likely to have been – obtained by torture was never to be admissible in legal proceedings. The secretary of state had argued strongly that such evidence should be allowed to be used, but he was soundly defeated. ‘From its very earliest days the common law of England set its face firmly against the use of torture,’ the senior law lord, Lord Bingham, declared; as a 19th-century jurist had put it, the practice is ‘totally repugnant to the fundamental principles of English law’ and ‘repugnant to reason, justice and humanity.’ More »

American Carnage

I’m in Europe this summer, though not in exile. I have not been driven to find sanctuary, much less thrown into a cage awaiting deportation, or forcibly separated from my child. When I fly home to New York, I will not be told that my name has ‘randomly’ appeared on a list, and taken aside to answer questions about the country of my ancestors, or my religious and political convictions. But for the first time in my life I’m not certain that this privilege, which ought to be simply a right, will last.

By a strange twist of historical fate, people like me, Jews whose families fled to the US from Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, became insiders, ‘white ethnics’, but the racism, intolerance and sheer vindictiveness that Donald Trump has helped bring into the mainstream are volatile forces, in constant search of new targets. For Muslims, Latinos, immigrants and black people, this has been the Summer of Hatred. Now we can add journalists to the list. Trump, the inciter-in-chief, called them ‘enemies of the American people’. Five were killed in Maryland last week; they are unlikely to be the last. More »

A Sale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, last summer was so far like the present period, inasmuch as our #readeverywhere photo contest is back, that some of its noisiest entries deserve to be re-shared, to introduce our new competition categories for 2018, in the superlative degree of inspiration only.

Tag your #readeverywhere entries on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as the #bestoftimes or the #worstoftimes to celebrate our sale of two cities: a whole year of the London Review of Books and the Paris Review for one low price (for new subscribers only, with apologies to existing subscribers). The prizes, as last year, will be provided by Aesop skin care.

The Third Runway

There are 415 British MPs who don’t take climate change seriously enough. That is the number who voted to build a third runway at Heathrow earlier this week; 119 of them were Labour.

The plans sailed through Parliament, despite some vocal but limited resistance. Only 119 MPs voted against it. Most of them weren’t worried that a third runway would make it near impossible to meet the government’s carbon reduction commitments. They were concerned that the plans were London-centric and might sideline transport projects in the north. More »

In Epping Forest

Cricket breaks out all over at this time of year. Bell Common, a generous village green set against a backcloth of ancient trees in their dark summer foliage, dotted with men in whites, is as bucolic a scene as you’ll find anywhere in England. The grass, turning a little pale after a long stretch of hot sunny days, is a shade greener on the woodland edge. Sometimes it can be boggy over there, a reminder of natural conditions, as Peter Day, the groundsman and a former captain, told me on Saturday. One of his sons was playing, the third generation of the family with links to the club. His father was a founding member of Epping Foresters when they set up in 1947, mostly ex-servicemen who began as a wandering team. Two years later they were granted a licence by the Conservators of Epping Forest to use Mill Plain, off Bell Common, as their ground. More »

Athens/Riyadh

Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on women driving. But the guardianship system, which requires that every Saudi girl and woman be under the authority of a designated male relative throughout her life, remains in place. Without the permission of her guardian – her father, husband, brother, son, uncle, cousin – a woman cannot marry, travel abroad, or be released from prison. A guardian’s permission is no longer required for a woman to see a doctor, get a job or report a crime, but many hospitals, employers and police stations still ask for it. Women are supposed to ask their guardian’s permission to leave the house, an informal requirement occasionally upheld by the courts. A guardian can file a complaint on the Ministry of Justice website to ‘demand submission from those under his guardianship’ or to have a woman under his guardianship returned to him. Some guardians are liberal, lenient and supportive, and let women work and travel – but their permission is still required. ‘I’m lucky,’ a student told Le Monde Diplomatique. ‘My father trusts me, but it’s not like that for my friends. Every time they beg their guardians to let them go out, they say no, and often they beat them.’

Classical Athens, routinely described as the cradle of Western democracy, had a similar system. More »

Not a word from Geoffrey

In August 1934 Samuel Beckett was at his mother’s house in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock. In a letter to his friend Thomas McGreevy, he commented on the psychoanalysis he had been undergoing in London with Wilfred Bion: ‘It is only now that I begin to realize what the analysis has done for me,’ he wrote.

And now I am obliged to accept the whole panic as psychoneurotic – which leaves me in a hurry to get back & get on. Had a long walk with Geoffrey Sunday to Enniskerry & got soaked. He likes you very much & hopes to be writing to you soon.

The ‘whole panic’ is the series of heart palpitations that drove Beckett to seek medical help. Geoffrey is Geoffrey Thompson, an old school and university friend, now a doctor, who consulted with him about his symptoms and advised him to move to London for psychoanalysis.

Geoffrey Thompson was my grandfather. More »

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