20TH JULY 2020
I hope you and your loved ones are still keeping safe and well.
Work continues apace on my ‘Darwin book’. It’s not a particularly pacy pace, I’ll grant you, but if Darwin taught us anything it’s that small developments over long periods can lead to wonderful outcomes. I’ve recently been writing about that very topic, as well as evolutionary vestiges, the geographical distribution of marsupials, birds’ nesting instincts, colour vision, bats, hypothetical bears, and a bunch of other stuff. I think this book might best be described as ‘eclectic’.
My research into bats provided me with the perfect excuse to gatecrash Melissa Harrison’s delightful nature podcast, The Stubborn Light of Things. You can hear me giving it the David Attenboroughs live(ish) from my back garden in episode 16, which went out earlier today. I’ve posted an extended version of my audio piece at the end of this article about the fiasco I went through putting it together.
Some stuff I thought worth sharing:
I rant against the jungle
Werner Herzog fan Luke Turner interviews the man himself.
How Margiad Evans wrote the earth
One I’ve just added to my ‘To Read’ list… Margiad Evans’ writing is largely unknown outside her adopted Wales. Steven Lovatt introduces this nature writer of precision and feeling.
Fungi’s lessons for adapting to life on a damaged planet
Merlin Sheldrake in conversation with Robert Macfarlane about Sheldrake’s new book, Entangled Life, looking at the complex world of fungi.
Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge
Archaeologists have discovered an impressive prehistoric structure spanning 1.2 miles.
Tea and capitalism
Dutch merchants were the first to import tea leaves into Europe in 1609, but by the late 1700s it was the English East India Company, backed by state monopoly, that came to dominate what became known as the ‘Canton Trade’.
How to draw an albatross
My favourite genre of writing: a fascinating blend of nature, science and history by Gaby Wood.
The 2020 Audubon Photography Awards
Stunning bird photographs.
Could the art of ‘sashiko’ help to mend our frayed world?
In sashiko, the art of fabric-repair, the goal is not to hide the repair, but to celebrate it. It exemplifies the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi.
An Antidote to Indifference—online in full!
The wonderful Caught by the River website marked the 13th anniversary of their first post by making two editions of their irregular physical publication, An Antidote to Indifference, available free online.
The fight for ‘Anglo-Saxon’
Since September 2019, medieval scholars have heatedly debated the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’.
The Centre for Place Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University has just launched a digital project bringing together writers and artists to think about place and its meanings in 2020. A fabulous new resource.
The Blues Brothers at 40: a manic musical romp that still sings today
A 40th-anniversary tribute to my favourite film—although I don’t think the article makes clear just how fantastic the soundtrack is!
by Philip Hoare
The memory of a military hospital. Reminiscent of the works of the late W.G. Sebald. A fantastic read.
by Ronald Blythe
Selected writings, 1960–2010. A wonderfully entertaining anthology from the veteran country writer.
|A Carnival of Losses
by Donald Hall
Notes nearing ninety. Sadly, the late Donald Hall never quite got there! Moving, and highly recommended.
|Somewhere Becoming Rain
by Clive James
Writings on Philip Larkin. Existing Larkin fans will enjoy this collection, although James’s enthusiasm should provide enough encouragement for anyone who hasn’t yet dipped into Larkin to take the plunge.
To mark the 300th anniversary of the great parson-naturalist, I recently wrote about Gilbert White’s influence on Charles Darwin.
If you still have any reading left in you after that lot, please keep checking in on my latest Sidelines posts. Highlights from July 2020 include a nice photo of Comet Neowise over Hebden Bridge, and this recent photo of a barn owl in the field in front of our house:
Keep safe. Keep well. And I’ll see you next time.
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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