Quintessence of Dust

Quintessence of Dust – James Hadley's ragbag of thoughts and observations

Making marmalade and longing for Seville

I have been making marmalade over the last couple of weeks. Everybody’s doing it, it seems. Over the last few years, this seasonal rite of the British kitchen has been the subject of many articles in national newspapers. Despite reports that marmalade consumption in the UK is in decline (kids today can’t handle the bitter […]

The joy of plums

It seems as if we’ve been blessed with quite a few bumper plum seasons in a row. Or is it my imagination? The other weekend I visited my dad, who has a large garden on the outskirts of Cambridge. There is one particular tree in the garden that I’ve known since I was a boy, […]

Consumed by the 2011 London riots

Well now, I can’t have a blog and not mention the riots and looting that have overtaken parts of London and elsewhere in the past week. It is of course the primary topic of conversation, obsessing our private lives, as Auden would have said. On Monday of this week, there was a definite whiff of […]

TS Eliot, Wilfred Owen and the journey towards poetry

Everyone needs an editor, commented a friend the other day, having read my first couple of posts to this blog. I am used to candour from this particular individual, but I must admit, his comment took me down a peg or two. And there was I, an experienced sub-editor, thinking I didn’t have much to […]

Thoughts of Vera Brittain and Testament of Youth on the South Downs

One of the more memorable lines from Blackadder Goes Forth, the BBC comedy series set against the backdrop of the Western Front and life in the trenches, was uttered by the inimitable Rik Mayall, playing the arrogant, over-the-top flying-ace Lord Flashheart: “Just because I can give multiple orgasms to the furniture just by sitting on […]

Rupert Murdoch in London

With Rupert Murdoch in the capital attempting to manage the fabulously escalating scandal afflicting his media empire, I came across a fascinating entry on the BBC blog of Adam Curtis, the producer who brought us the documentary series The Power of Nightmares and The Century of the Self. The ironically titled ‘Rupert Murdoch: A Portrait […]