An Index of the 1970s

'piles: see Benn, Tony'... Just occasionally, a book's index is a work of art in itself. Here, Jonathan Law finds some that offer a hilarious insight into 1970s Britain... In a recent Dabbler Diary, Brit wrote interestingly about reactions to the passing of Tony Benn – that “indefatigable, articulate, admirable, unique ... Read More...

Empire of Booze

Why did port and sherry conquer the world while equally good French equivalents remain local obscurities? Because the British Empire globalised booze, argues Henry in his forthcoming book... Perhaps my favourite part of France is the Roussillon, the area closest physically and culturally to Spain. My wife calls it Sprance. I ... Read More...

The Life of the Robin

Nige rediscovers a pioneering work of English natural history... The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man: 'tis the debt of our reason we owe unto God, and the homage we pay for not being beasts. Without this, the world is still as though ... Read More...

Savage Philosophies

Douglas Dalrymple on Before Philosophy, Black Elk and Catholicism... My paternal grandfather’s sympathies were evenly split, I think, between cowboys and Indians. When he died, my grandmother begged me to take a few items from his closet. I kept a button-up cowboy shirt with a nighttime western scene stitched on the ... Read More...

Still Life: Objects and Initimacy

Nige reflects on the power and meaning of still life painting, in the light of a book by American poet Mark Doty... Still Life with Oysters and Lemon is the title of a painting by Jan Davidsz de Heem (above)  that hangs in the Metropolitan Museum in New  York - or ... Read More...

The Seasons: Christmas in England

Professor Nick Groom's new book The Seasons: An Elegy for the Passing of the Year is a celebration of the English seasons and the trove of strange folklore and often stranger fact they have accumulated over the centuries. In an exclusive post for The Dabbler, Nick looks at the English Christmas... Hallowe’en, ... Read More...