Sunday links

24th May 2020

John Wyver writes: welcome to the weekly round-up of bits and pieces that have engaged and informed me over the past week. One little change: I’ve experimented by making (most of) the links open a new tab, which is not how I’ve organised the page before – good idea?

Unusually, the header image is not linked to any of the specific links but is simply something that I saw Tweeted by @OSaumarezSmith and which I think is all kinds of wonderful: a 1937 map by MacDonald Gill showing the location of the GPO’s radio masts. I know little about Gill, Mac (brother of Eric, apparently) but I’m now keen to know more, and ‘MacDonald Gill (1884-1947)’ from The British Postal Museum & Archive blog in 2012 is one place to start.

• [Update] I’ve now discovered there’s a fascinating and beautiful website devoted to MacDonald Gill and his work, compiled by his great-niece Caroline Walker – and there’s a book too, forthcoming from Unicorn Press.

Plus, the University of Brighton Design Archives has a really good digital resource about MacDonald Gill, created in 2011.

The British Library simulator: let’s begin with something silly but in its way, sublime — a simulator of the building in Euston Road that so many of us are missing, built by the BL’s Curator of Digital Publications Giulia Carla Rossi using the Bitsy game engine; background and intro here.

Initial lockdown meeting: of course, I had to include this, even though you (and 170K others to date) have already watched it:

Britain’s pride in its past is not matched by any vision for its future: an essential Guardian opinion piece by Timothy Garton Ash.

• The Dunkirk delusion – from our finest hour to the coronavirus crisis: another valuable contribution to the debate about the meanings of World War Two today, from David Reynolds in the New Statesman.

Out of the belly of hell — COVID-19 and the humanisation of globalisation: an uncompromising and brilliant long read from Anthony Barnett at openDemocracy.

What kind of country do we want?: Marilynne Robinson writes for New York Review of Books about the USA, but there’s much wisdom and many lessons for those of us on this side of the Atlantic.

An aerial view of New York City’s pandemic: a remarkable video from The New Yorker, shot by Zack Taylor, introduced by Micah Hauser…

The drones were ready for this moment: … strong analysis of the imminent Drone Age from Alex Williams and colleagues for The New York Times.

Class of 19/20 perform “When I Grow Up” | Matilda The Musical: to cheer us up after all that (and there’s something extraordinarily resonant about this just now):

‘Everybody needs a place to think’, or do they? – the end of BBC Four, arts programming and precarity: Leanne Weston at CST Online with some nuanced thoughts about one of the media stories of the week – I don’t agree with all of the analysis but this is definitely worth a read.

TV adapted quickly to coronavirus. Does it have the guts to show what comes next?: interesting thoughts from LA Times television critic Robert Lloyd.

The memory lane that runs through A Kid for Two Farthings: Elia Taylor for Criterion on Petticoat Lane and Carol Reed’s under-appreciated 1955 fantasy of London life.

Queer Empire – on the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back: for Los Angeles Review of Books, a brilliant demonstration by Rebecca Harrison of how to make you look at a familiar movie entirely differently.

How one Yesterday screenwriter’s dream became something of a nightmare: one more tale of a movie writer getting screwed, this time it’s Jack Barth, with Richard Curtis appearing to be the bad guy, on the Danny Boyle movie Yesterday; by Vince Mancini at Uproxx.

@biilt drew my attention to this important thread:

• And @alexrossmusic showed me the way to Das Rheingold: Coronadämmerung with Jamie Barton, Ryan McKinny and Kathleen Kelly…

Villiers de l’Isle-Adam meets Richard Wagner: … and here’s a splendid little excerpt of Alex Ross’s forthcoming book Wagnerism.

In Guy Vaes’s footsteps: an irresistible Diary column by Iain Sinclair in Belgium, for London Review of Books.

The Birth of a London Slum – the St Giles Rookery and the geoeconomic factors behind slum development: here’s an excellent example of what’s not exactly a new format, but is one that has been given new life in these times, the video lecture; Adam Crymble, Leeds Beckett University, presented this during the week as part of the British History in the Long Eighteenth Century Seminar at London’s Institute of Historical Research:

Before the Internet, there was the 1960s Dial-a-Poem Hotline: fascinating cultural history, and wonderful images, from Messy Nessy Cabinet of Chic Curiosities.

Richard Sadler – Coventry post-war photographer ‘pre-eminent’: an online BBC celebration, with some great images, of the photographer who has died at the age of 92. I hope to use some of his images in a documentary for next year about the building of Coventry Cathedral. See also this personal tribute by John Cooper.

• Front page, The New York Times, 24 May 2020, together with the story of how and why it was assembled, The project behind a front page full of names; the online interactive version is equally extraordinary and compelling.


  1. Jane Pearce says:

    This is so interesting, thanks John.

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