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Slavery, statuary and Huguenot villainry

Thanks to Black Lives Matter and the toppling of a Bristol statue, I’ve just found out about the part a number of Huguenots played in the transatlantic slave trade.  It’s left me breathless.  All that Bible reading did such Huguenots no good when it came to...

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Calvinism, devilry and wicked, wicked women

The Witch is being shown again on Film 4, on Thursday 16 April at 11.20pm, and I urge you to watch it – or to record it, if it would freak you out too much in the long, dark hours of the night. Early adopters of this blog were horrified that I reviewed the film in one...

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The other side of the tracks

The other side of the tracks

Sarah is 80 this year. She idolised my mum who, admittedly, was good with small children not her own. In any case, this was in the years when my mum was a Sunday School teacher and must have had child-amusing tricks up her sleeve. Sarah is one of my long-lost cousins...

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Making musical clocks in Blackfriars

A Protestant-made timepiece was chosen by historian Neil MacGregor to be one of twenty British Museum objects which best illustrate Shakespeare’s life and the background for his plays. The rare musical clock, created by highly-skilled Flemish Protestant refugee...

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Cancer ward

I’ve been sitting in a cancer ward at the Royal Marsden Hospital, desperately relying on a Tudor detective novel to distract me. Nurses are putting cancer drugs into my child and it’s almost impossible to bear. One of them catches me glaring at her. “Everything OK?”...

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Neat freaks find my CD-Rom

I just had the declutterers in.  It’s sheer extravagance, but when you’ve still got the debris from your father’s estate to weed out, ten years after his death, probably justified. Maybe in 2008 I believed I might still keep him – deny death - by holding on to every...

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An Englishman’s history of France

The writer, broadcaster and popular historian John Julius Norwich died on 1 June 2018, aged 88, just after publishing “France: A History from Gaul to de Gaulle”.  Poignantly, the author says in the preface: “I know I have said it before, but this is almost certainly...

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