Shall not weary them

As I sort out papers with a view to submitting a tax return various items that had been stowed away earlier in the year are surfacing, among them an order for a dawn service on Anzac Day. While the observance of Australia Day in January falters, partly because Indigenous Australians understandably see it as Invasion Day, Anzac Day goes from strength to strength […]

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Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (2016)

It was the excellent idea of Christopher de Hamel to inspect ten medieval manuscripts, for the most part well known ones, and produce a beautifully illustrated book describing his encounters with them. Its chapters follow the same pattern. We accompany the author as he makes his way to a library or archive where, having undergone some wittily described formalities, he sits down and meets a manuscript, […]

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The Royal Ballet Dance The Winter’s Tale

Among the plays by Shakespeare we studied in first year English at University, The Winter’s Favourite was the least well liked. Putting aside its great length, a feature scarcely likely to endear it to undergraduates, and the apparent weirdness of the plot (how seriously are we to take what seems to be a resurrection scene?), the lecturer made clear his distaste […]

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St Porphyrios on Struggle

‘So that’s how you should engage in your spiritual struggle: simply, gently and without force. Simplicity and gentleness are a very saintly mode of spiritual life, but you cannot learn this in an external way. It must suffuse itself mystically within you, so that your soul embraces this life through the grace of God. But very often, in spite of […]

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Angela Hewitt Plays…

Australia and Canada are similar countries in obvious ways, and comparisons  between them throw up interestingly different strengths. At a guess, Canada has a deeper intellectual life, the countries are about equal in literature, Australia excels at sport (for whatever that is worth), and it may be ahead in the level of its composers. But Canada surely reigns supreme in the performance of […]

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Ima

Ima, 53 Fort St, Auckland, New Zealand It’s said that Jewish mothers have a lot to answer for, but sometimes they have a lot to be thanked for. Yael Sochat grew up in Haifa, in northern Israel, where her mother taught her to cook. Having migrated to Britain she married a New Zealander, with whom she finally settled in Auckland. She opened a […]

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Allegri and Original Sin

I’ll never forget the first time I heard a performance of the setting of Psalm 50 (51), the Miserere mei, Deus, composed in the seventeenth century by Gregorio Allegri, a member of the papal choir and sung thereafter in the Capella Sistina. I was listening in another chapel, a dark one, and the soaring top line was sung by one of those boy sopranos […]

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Mezze Bar

Mezze Bar, 9 Durham St East, Auckland, New Zealnd Improbably, a flight of steps off a street in central Auckland leads to a tapas bar, where the cosmopolitan menu has a strong middle eastern orientation. The lentil soup is tasty, despite the absence of mint, and comes with bread and a piece of butter. A lemony hummus is served with a tomato salsa and triangles of […]

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Theophany

The streams of the Jordan received Thee who art the fountain, and the Comforter descended in the form of a dove. He who bowed the heavens bowed his head, and the clay cried aloud to Him who formed him: ‘Why dost Thou command of me what lays beyond my power? For I have need to be baptized of Thee.’ O […]

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