Paul Myerscough

Paul Myerscough is an editor at the LRB.

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough, 22 October 2015

‘Corb snubs the queen,’ ran the headline on the front page of the Sun on 16 September, in response to Jeremy Corbyn’s tight-lipped participation in the singing of the national anthem at a commemoration of the Battle of Britain. The Times led with ‘Veterans open fire after Corbyn snubs anthem,’ the Telegraph with ‘Corbyn snubs queen and country.’ Three days into the job as leader of the Labour Party and already he wasn’t doing it right. What colour poppy, white or red, would he wear to the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day?

Short Cuts: The Pret Buzz

Paul Myerscough, 3 January 2013

‘AS’, a finance student from the Czech Republic, was fired from his job at the branch of the fast-food chain Pret A Manger in York Way, by St Pancras Station, in the middle of September. He had been working there for two years. A statement on Pret’s website explains that he was ‘dismissed for misconduct’, having ‘made homophobic comments to a...

Diary: Confessions of a Poker Player

Paul Myerscough, 29 January 2009

On the last Sunday before Christmas, I drove to Blackpool to play poker. You wouldn’t have got me there for any other reason. When I was young, my family used to take day trips to Lancashire’s beach resorts. Each of them – Fleetwood, Cleveleys, Lytham and Morecambe – was desolate in its own way, but none provoked so many tears as Blackpool, all that giddy anticipation disappointed by damp amusement arcades, flea-ridden donkeys, filthy beaches and filthier seawater. I arrived in the mid-evening, and parked at the southern end of the Golden Mile beneath the silhouette of the Big Dipper. There were no signs of life. Most of the hotels and restaurants were closed for the season; the rest were boarded up. The illuminations were switched off; the only sound was the incessant thunder of the sea. This part of town is currently rated one of the most deprived areas in the country. An eerie, desperate place. The perfect place for a casino.

At Tate Modern: Juan Muñoz

Paul Myerscough, 20 March 2008

In 1992 the Spanish sculptor Juan Muñoz made a series of ten five-minute recordings for radio, A Man in a Room, Gambling, in which he instructs the listener how to cheat at cards. His voice is mellifluous and reassuring; every now and then, as if he were watching over your shoulder, he pauses to offer gentle encouragement, or to admire the tricks that he’s teaching you: ‘Did...

At Christie’s: Buying Art

Paul Myerscough, 21 February 2008

I took a look around Harrods last weekend. Barging my way in through a crowd of animal rights protesters, I wondered if I should tell them to try their luck around the corner. Harrods is selling the furs, but I’d just come from Christie’s in South Kensington, and there I’d been surrounded by the people who buy them.

They buy art, too. A lot of it, for a lot of money....

The Flow: ‘The Trap’

Paul Myerscough, 5 April 2007

‘One night in Miami,’ Raymond Williams wrote in 1973, ‘still dazed from a week on an Atlantic liner, I began watching a film and at first had some difficulty adjusting to a much greater frequency of commercial “breaks”.’ Things didn’t get any easier for him. Trailers for two other movies began to appear as inserts; the one he’d started with, about a crime in San Francisco, was interrupted not only by advertisements for cereal and deodorant, but by a romance set in Paris and then the roar of a prehistoric monster laying waste to New York. ‘I can still not be sure,’ Williams reflected, ‘what I took from that whole flow’ – aside, presumably, from a sharp urge to lie down.

At the Coppermill: Simply Botiful

Paul Myerscough, 14 December 2006

In September 2004, the German sculptor John Bock turned the main gallery at the ICA into something like a giant treehouse, a cluster of cabins, platforms and dens bashed together out of plywood and hung about with tinfoil, blankets and washing-lines. To get between them you’d climb ladders and squeeze through tunnels, balance on walkways and clamber over hay bales. Installations of this...

Short Cuts: Zidane at work

Paul Myerscough, 5 October 2006

The average maximum temperature in Madrid in mid to late April is 18 °C. It would have been somewhat cooler than that in the Bernabéu Stadium, at 9 p.m. on 23 April 2005, when Zinédine Zidane walked onto the pitch with Real Madrid to face Villarreal, even under the floodlights and swathed in the body-heat of 72,485 restless spectators. But by the time Darius...

At the Serpentine: Cy Twombly

Paul Myerscough, 20 May 2004

You have to trust yourself in front of a Twombly. The critics won’t help. They’re worried about naivety – Twombly’s, or possibly their own – and tend to overcompensate for it. Here’s Simon Schama in his introduction to the catalogue for Cy Twombly: Fifty Years of Works on Paper: ‘Twombly’s Apollo is not the fine-limbed hunk of the Belvedere, but...

Short Cuts: Iris Murdoch

Paul Myerscough, 7 February 2002

The critics can be pushed only so far. Having fallen over themselves to praise John Bayley for Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch, they were kind, rather, about Iris and The Friends. But now – and this even after Bayley’s appearance with Kate Winslet and Judi Dench on his arm at the première of Iris: The Movie – the cracks have begun to appear.

Writers have often been...

From The Blog
9 September 2013

We have had occasion before on this blog and in the pages of the LRB to note the enthusiasm shown by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in helping government to liberate academic research from antiquated notions of free intellectual inquiry. Its latest inspiration is this announcement of opportunities for what it is pleased to call ‘follow-on funding’.

From The Blog
30 March 2011

In the LRB earlier this month, Iain Pears regretted the government’s progressive undermining of the Haldane principle, ‘the century-old understanding that research should be protected from political interference’, and noted in passing that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) had issued a document stating that the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) ‘will systematically address issues relating to... cultural renewal contributing to the “Big Society” initiative.’ On Sunday, the Observer made quite a bit more capital out of the same story.

From The Blog
5 July 2010

If there’s one thing this World Cup has exposed even more cruelly than the emptiness of England’s footballing pretensions, it’s the shallowness of TV punditry. The assumption that ex-stars - and Lee Dixon - can talk as good a game as they once played is one we know well enough to avoid in other fields. Artists do not generally make good critics. ‘I want whatever he’s having,’ Alan Shearer said after the motor-mouthed broadcaster Danny Baker was allowed onto the BBC sofa for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago. Baker had delivered himself of a few jokes, a string of chancy speculations and one very canny observation: ‘England aren’t playing well enough to go out yet.’ England proved him wrong, as it turned out, by going out playing very badly indeed, but that isn't the point: as a pundit, with that comment, Baker had done the business. Shearer, though, is a void, as uninspired as he is uninformed. He has nothing fresh or insightful to say about why England failed so miserably in South Africa. Why should he? As an ex-England captain, he is part of a long-standing institutional problem, not its solution. Which is why, at the end of the game against Germany, his instinct was to get in ahead of the tabloids with the first kick in the traditional blame game – England failed, so the manager must go.

From The Blog
9 June 2010

I think it must have been in 1994 that I first felt relieved England hadn’t qualified for the World Cup finals. Since then I’ve got into my stride; I was positively pleased when they didn’t make it to the Euros in 2008. It’s partly anti-patriotic schadenfreude, I’ll admit; there’s so little to love about the England football team – its style of play, the extra-curricular behaviour of players and fans alike. But more than that it’s being saved from the enervating cycle of rising optimism, hysterical excitement and inevitable disappointment we’re all put through whenever they do make it. Spared the xenophobic front pages, the St George flags flying from car aerials, the blurring of news coverage into sports coverage into news coverage of fans watching sports coverage, you have a chance to enjoy the football for the sake of it, and even to fall in love with a foreign team: Holland in 1978, Cameroon in 1990, France (Zidane!) in 2006, Brazil every time they step on the field. Unfortunately, this time they have made it, so let’s get the Big Question out of the way before the matter gets confused as Gary asks Alan and the Sun asks Steven and some young Tory toady asks David at PMQs. Can England win it?

From The Blog
4 May 2010

Staff in the philosophy department at Middlesex University were told last week that they were being shut down. You won’t have read about it in the papers. The numbers are small – just six full-time faculty, a hundred or so students – and it would be easy to imagine that this was the sort of trimming that every university will have to undertake as they respond to Peter Mandelson’s announcement, in December, that cuts of £950 million will be made to the university budget over the next three years. Easy to imagine, too, that the departments forced to close will be those that aren’t doing so well: they will have falling student numbers or mediocre research ratings, perhaps a poor track record attracting grants. Philosophy, though, is the highest-rated research subject at Middlesex; in the most recent research assessment exercise in 2008, the department was ranked 13th out of 41 institutions in the UK, ahead of Warwick, Sussex, Glasgow, Durham and York, and first among the post-1992 universities. Undergraduate applications are healthy; its MA programme is the biggest in the country. Explaining why, despite all these things, philosophy had to go, Ed Esche, dean of the school of arts and humanities, told staff that reputation made no ‘measurable’ contribution to the university: it couldn't be allowed to interfere with their calculations. What, then, does matter?

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