It’s amazing how much data has been preserved from the past. While listening to music today, I wondered what were the most popular songs during this week in 1966. That year came to my mind because it was such an exciting time in pop music.
When a young man came to Singapore from Calcutta many years ago, he didn’t know he was following in the footsteps of Sir Stamford Raffles. The one difference: He came by air. Raffles came by sea — on the ship Indiana, with his deputy, Major William Farquhar, on board another vessel, the Ganges.
Cherubic Cupid, winging his way with bow and arrows to shoot at hearts, graces countless valentines. The little Roman god of love has proved more durable than the Roman empire. What explains his lasting appeal when another god of love languishes in relative obscurity?
Naipaul was “the greatest prose writer in the English language of the last 60 years”, wrote Amit Chaudhuri in the Guardian when Naipaul died at the age of 85 on August 11. Others were more measured in their praise. They could not overlook his flaws and prejudices. Naipaul himself provoked criticism by what he said and wrote, admitting he had been a “big prostitute man”, ill-treating his first wife, Patricia Hale, and his long-time mistress, Margaret Gooding née Murray, and offending blacks and Muslims among others.
Shakespeare Basics for Grown-ups comes with the subtitle: Everything You Need to Know about the Bard. That sounds rich, but the authors E Foley and B Coates deliver. Concise, comprehensive, it’s a great briefing on the Bard.
Lavishly illustrated, The Globe Guide to Shakespeare is a joy to behold and a pleasure to read. Written by Andrew Dickson, with contributions by Joe Staines, this isn’t a musty, fusty academic treatise thick with jargon. As the authors say in the introduction, “Above all, this isn’t intended to be a textbook, and we hope it’s fun to read: our ambition throughout has been to demystify Shakespeare, to show there are interesting ways of thinking about his works without saturating them in academic jargon.”
The first regular UK singles chart was published on this day, November 14, in 1952 by the New Musical Express, reminds the website On This Day. Someone has duly posted that on Twitter including even a scanned copy of the newspaper clipping “announcing the first record hit parade”. Yes, that’s what we called weekly lists of bestselling pop music records — “hit parades”.
Google tweeted today: “27 years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau published their proposal for a little something called the ‘WorldWideWeb’.” That was the first web browser.
Anyone who likes to write will probably agree with some of the things George Orwell (June 25, 1903 – January 21, 1950) has to say on why we write. In his essay, Why I Write, which appeared in 1946, four years before he died at the age of 46, Orwell wrote:
RK Narayan enjoyed writing short stories more than novels. He said so in the introduction to his collection of short stories, Malgudi Days.
First published in Penguin Books in 1984, Malgudi Days includes selections from his earlier collections, An Astrologer’s Day and Other Stories (1947) and Lawley Road and Other Stories (1956 ), as well as stories that had appeared in such publications as The New Yorker, Playboy and Antaeus.