SPIRITED THINKING SINCE 1888
Andrew M Brown

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June 02, 2020
Where will we be by the time you read this? Emotionally speaking: will the collective mood be up or down? It’s all about expectation management: giving bad news about deaths in time for people to see the benefit of an extended lockdown. Managing our feelings is part of the purpose of the daily Downing Street
March 12, 2020
When I was a little boy I washed my mammy’s dishes; I put my finger in my eye, And pulled out golden fishes. Enjoyably weird that, isn’t it, in the way it combines the homely with the exotic? Children’s rhymes, said the poet Walter de la Mare, “free the fancy, charm tongue and ear, delight
January 16, 2020
It is hazardous to write about children because you risk condescending, or making fun of them in that “kids say the funniest things” way – which in no time will curl the toes of all involved; or you invade their privacy. “Kids” itself sounds patronising to me. So with this in mind I asked our
December 19, 2019
I have no idea what we will give our children for Christmas, but I know what they have given me over the years – a fascination with sport, where previously team games left me cold. All of our children are what I’d call sporty, though possibly I’m underestimating how normal it is to enjoy a
November 14, 2019
Enough doom and gloom, says Billy Connolly, quoted in the London Evening Standard: he thinks the news needs cheering up. “Move obituaries from the back to the front page,” he suggests. “They are the best thing in the paper … [they’re about] great things people have done.” I’m heartened (as the Daily Telegraph’s obituaries editor)
October 03, 2019
Compare and contrast. On the one hand, you have the eternal verities contained in the Bible – like the past two Sundays’ Mass readings, the prophet Amos and Jesus’ parable of Dives and Lazarus. On the other hand, you have today’s secular template for virtue – “diversity and inclusion”, celebrated by British corporations and the
September 05, 2019
Since the Brexit vote I’ve found that LBC talk radio has everything that refugees from the BBC’s boring Radio 4 Today programme could want. Jacob Rees-Mogg is an occasional presenter, beamed in live from his Somerset manor house: “Barry in Woking is on the line: what say you, Barry?” Once restricted to London, LBC now
August 22, 2019
“We don’t do camping,” said a pompous acquaintance when I explained that our summer holiday this year was going to be a fortnight in a tent. I do not mean “glamping”, where you get a luxury yurt with a fridge. I mean putting up a real canvas bell tent ourselves with real tent pegs and
July 25, 2019
Are you interested in how a funny, sporty, charismatic, well-read, modern woman might want to spend the rest of her life shut up in a traditional, enclosed order of nuns, spending most of the day in silence (when not praying in plainchant)? If you are, then The Joy of God, a new collection of writings
June 20, 2019
Thoughts of ageing press into my mind as I approach 50. University contemporaries are starting to fall ill. High blood pressure, hernia, even a mild stroke – a shocking experience at any age. At a recent party I noticed an attractive woman of about my age whose lips seemed unnaturally pillow-like: evidence, I suspect, of
May 16, 2019
Winston Churchill said that “the mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country”. I was put in mind of this when the annual report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Wormwood Scrubs in west
April 18, 2019
By some sort of miracle Kraków, which was Poland’s capital city in the Middle Ages, is immaculately preserved. The Nazis’ tanks and bombs ignored it, as did the Allies, for reasons I will touch on. But what an extraordinary place it is. I did not see any of the semi-naked Englishmen dressed only in mankinis
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