Author: robertleeming

Listen to Marylebone!

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I recently moved from the near suburbs to the city centre and the change has been louder than I expected. I used to think the idea that the city never slept was a cliché. That if you went to Piccadilly Circus at 4am on a Monday morning then you would find something approaching emptiness. After two months living in a top floor flat at the upper end of Wimpole Street in Marylebone, I can confirm […]

From Virginia Woolf to Flann O’Brien – A literary patchwork quilt

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Changing from one literary world to another can often be a wrench. Quite a lot of time is devoted to reading a book from cover to cover and when the imaginary world that you have invited and invested yourself into caves in and dies on the last page, it is difficult not to feel bereft, especially if the jump from the old world into the new is particularly jarring. I recently finished reading At Swim-Two-Birds […]

La Valse – Painting Pictures with Music

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Let’s for a moment accept all the clichés of what one generally assumes turn of the century Paris was like: tea at Maxims, ladies with parasols, Art Nouveau and the Moulin Rouge. And now imagine a Parisian concert hall in 1894, packed to the rafters for a premier of a new piece of music by that master of classical impressionism, Claude Debussy. The piece being performed is Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune. It is a beautiful […]

Constricting Interiors – Chantal Akerman

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Je Tu Il Elle Who was Chantal Akerman? She was a renowned Belgian film maker. She was born in Brussels in 1950 and she killed herself in Paris a few weeks ago. When a journalist from Village Voice asked Julie Christie, (the actress from Darling and Don’t Look Back and a name to anyone under thirty no doubt just as mysterious as Chantal Akerman) what film she would take to a desert island, Christie replied […]

Not Made Manifest

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A sea breeze blew the music charts from a horseshoe of silver stands sending pages of yellowing staves and treble clefs slicing through the air. I told Greta that clothes pegs might be needed but she begged me to stop concentrating on the tiny details and consider the larger picture. She ordered me into the undercroft of the hall to carry out several stone heads of musical notables that I had to arrange on a […]

F For Fake – Orson says: ‘Never Trust an Expert’

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I am not an expert. I say that with all due consideration to you, the reader, who may well have found this page expecting expertise, thinned and straightened into horizontal lines, ready for you to take up your collective noses like Victorian snuff. We live in the era of the expert. The twenty four hour news media, to borrow an increasingly dreary phrase, screams for, day in day out, and thusly teems with, expertise, battalions […]

Love Streams

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Susannah? When did I see her last? We’ve been through all this. Haven’t we? Outside Peter Jones. We’d been to Cadogan Hall and she’d just been offered an international tour playing second cello in a Candide revival. We’ve discussed this. I set it up for her. You’ve got to be a fixer in this life, there’s nothing better to be than a problem solver, to take on other people’s burdens seamlessly, confidently, because you have […]

Seven Pines or Brandy Station?

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My eyes opened on Brandy Station, a fading white wooden building on a hillside that the sun was slowly removing from the glass greenhouse tiles. I remember Brandy Station as a labyrinth but everyone remembers things differently. Washington Roebling and I escaped the Wilderness together and we wandered for miles, towards the Cumberland, with Roebling stopping to marvel at every bridge we came across along the way. He loved bridges and I’d get tired of […]