Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...

Having lived almost my entire adult life in England, I'm bilingual in both American and English. (I can talk the talk. Just don't ask me to drawl the drawl as I did when a child - I've lost the charming knack).

I want to blog about the miraculously mature arts scene here, only 19 miles away from the Continent and seven hours away from Manhattan, but also about the youthful energy it often generates. I look at the opera, the theatre, books and the visual arts in Britain almost like an alien, as I was born somewhere and sometime very different, in Kentucky, during WWII.

Anglophilia will sometimes become anglophobia, as the culture of my adopted country occasionally repulses and grates on me as much as it does other civilised people - and sometimes I'll really want to talk about something happening somewhere altogether different - France, Spain, Italy, Germany or Austria spring to mind, as does Australia and my native USA. And I'm very keen on China and Southeast Asia, though it's been a while since I've managed to journey to the east of either Glyndebourne or Second Avenue.

Sometimes, I know, I'm a grumpy old man. But more often I'm excited by what's going on around me, especially in London, where at this very moment you can see the astounding "Babylon" show at the British Museum,  the hilarious Osbert Lancaster cartoons at the Wallace Collection, and a glorious Saul Steinberg retrospective at the Dulwich Picture Gallery; watch Derek Jacobi as Malvolio at Wyndham's,  hear Wieland Wagner's girlfriend Anja Silja sing the Witch in "Hansel und Gretel," participate in a T.S. Eliot Festival at the Donmar Warehouse, gawp at Steppenwolf's amazing "August:Osage County" at the National Theatre; buy a cookbook that weighs 8kg (Heston Blumenthal's "The Big Fat Duck Cookbook") or eat grouse pie (a dish I've never heard of before) at Richard Corrigan's new restaurant.

You can join the rest of us and moan about the Recession and how we don't have adequate pension provision, or pop into a supermarket and profit from the Recession-caused half-price Champagne on sale all over the place. Away from the metropolis, you can join me at the cinema in Oxford to watch Ms Silja do her scary stuff in a live relay from Covent Garden (which I expect I'll like better than the real thing, if only because of the close-ups).

In the next few weeks I'll hope to introduce you to a man with a seriously long beard who reads cuneiform inscriptions as easily as we read a contemporary novel, Irving Finkel, one of the curators of the British Museum's "Babylon", tell you what I think about (and maybe whom I voted for) in the Critic's Circle Drama Awards, whether I think you'll enjoy Jonathan Miller's new production of "La Boheme," and, when the time comes, the shortlist of books nominated for the ManBooker Prize. From time to time I'll probably bitch about the state of the language: I'm upset just now about all the British girls who are "falling" pregnant; "getting" the burger or Caesar salad (instead of "ordering" it; and getting "bored of" listening to me bang on about losing the distinction between being "disinterested" and "uninterested." (I've got two 20-something  children.) As behoves somebody with my CV (and girth) I might once in a while tell you where to eat after the show - or instead of going to it. Food (and wine) is culture, too, innit?

December 17, 2008 8:00 AM | | Comments (3)

3 Comments

Delighted to find this page to get a regular injection of Paul's wit and wisdom.

Paul, I desperately want to read this, but unable to because of black on dark (chocolate ?)background.

Difficult (but charming) American is more precise.

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This page contains a single entry by Plain English published on December 17, 2008 8:00 AM.

Me Elsewhere was the previous entry in this blog.

This Dutchman Flies is the next entry in this blog.

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