Methodism: A Common Cause of Lunacy

How Methodism leads to Bedlam...   misfortunes, troubles, disappointments, grief...206 family/heredity......................................................115 fevers......................................................................110 religion and methodism........................................90 childbed...................................................................79 love..........................................................................74 drink.........................................................................58 fright.........................................................................51 study.........................................................................90 These figures are for 'Lunacy by Cause' in a table published by the apothecary of the Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam) towards the end of the 18th century. I came across it in The Air Loom Gang, Mike Jay's fascinating study of the ... Read More...

Dabbler Diary – Railway Cake

Hugh Laurie once wrote of his teenage self: “I somehow contrived to pull off the gruesome trick of being both fat and thin at the same time”. This summer has managed to be similarly perverse, being first disgustingly hot then offensively cold and wet. Why do we British even pretend ... Read More...

Dabbler Diary – Job Justification

I don’t know if you’re the same, but whenever I watch coverage of the Glastonbury Festival on the BBC and see the sheer scale of Michael Eavis’ achievement - the array of great music and performers, the creativity, the tradition, the vibe, the extraordinary range and diversity of people all ... Read More...

The Fighting Loamshires

Mr Slang raises a fourth glass of port to the famous Loamshire regiment, heroes of innumerable imaginary battles... ‘All that remains is the orderly –sergeant’s voice reading orders to the new blood in the quiet summer evening in sleepy Loamshire, with its laughing English fields and gay hedgerows spread about the ... Read More...

The Monument of Penelope Boothby

Nige visits one of the most touching monuments in the country... Ashbourne in Derbyshire is a fine and flourishing town, full of handsome buildings, including the house of John Taylor, Dr Johnson's old schoolfriend, whom he often visited. A most unclerical cleric, Taylor's chief interest lay in his herd of milch-cows - ... Read More...

Out of the Race: Politics, Fear and Failure

As a couple more Labour leadership contenders drop off the greasy pole, Terry Stiastny, author of political thriller Acts of Omission, disinters a blisteringly cynical fictional account of the political life, and wonders why they bother in the first place. It was so comfortable to be out of the race. Then again, he ... Read More...

Adrian Carton de Wiart: Happy Odyssey

Gaw pays tribute to one of the most remarkable soldiers this country has produced... Adrian Carton de Wiart's soldiering career extended from Boer to Second World Wars, taking in many events of large historical importance. He was usually to be found in the thick of the action, winning a VC during the ... Read More...