The BBC would have us think that Ferguson trumps the Queen

Published by ConservativeHome

Sir Alex Ferguson

Is there a sporting equivalent for the philosophic or aesthetic philistine? If so, please excuse my socio-lexical ignorance: I must be one. I sat patiently through last night’s BBC News while the Gracious Speech played inglorious left-wing to the centre-mid resignation of Sir Alex Ferguson. I bit my lip as his departure from the field shunted the Coalition’s programme for government from the headlines of the national press, and Twitter tribalists obsessed all day about his legendary record of achievement.

Incredibly, there were even some comparing the moment to the death of The Lady, which is really quite appalling when you think about it. Did the late, great Alex Ferguson really do for football what the late and very much greater Margaret Thatcher did for Great Britain? Did he halt terminal decline, revive a national spirit, liberate half a continent or inspire a generation? Continue reading


Macbeth in all its malignance

Published by The Spectator

Macbeth, (Royal Shakespeare Theatre)

Macbeth - Slinger

Jonathan Slinger (Macbeth) and Aislín McGuckin (Lady Macbeth). Photo by Ellie Kurttz.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production of Macbeth is the first production devised and created for its newly refurbished theatre, and I must admit to feeling a little apprehensive about re-visiting hallowed ground. I had trod those boards and waited in those wings a thousand times, working with such eminences as John Caird, Terry Hands and the great John Barton.

While I (and every sane person) preferred the thrust stage of the elegant Swan Theatre to the dated Art Deco proscenium and cavernous auditorium of the RST, there was something about Elizabeth Scott’s 1932 creation that merited a degree of reverence and respect – not only because it had won prestigious design awards, but also because this was the temple in which the greats of British theatre had acted and re-enacted their sacred Shakespearean ritual: Olivier, Gielgud, Richardson, Redgrave, Scofield, Ashcroft, Leigh, Dench… To walk quite literally in their footsteps and intone in that same ‘empty space’ the greatest verse ever written was both moving and profoundly humbling. Continue reading