Welcome, at last, to the summer edition of Albion. It has been delayed for a week by the editor’s summer flu, but now arrives, pleasingly fat and varied, to distract you from the heatwave.
When I found out that the British military installations in Northern Germany are facing imminent closure, I decided to visit the commemorative exhibition at the Paderborn City Museum. It afforded me a fascinating glimpse of British military life and cross-cultural interactions in Northern Germany during the post war and Cold War periods. Just as interesting, in a very different way, was an outing on a fine spring day to the spectacular Beamish Open Air Museum, the pride of North East England.
Those distressed by the fractiousness of current events (and who among us is not?) will hugely enjoy and appreciate Simon Roberts’s epoch-capturing photography collection Merrie Albion. I had the chance to interview him at length about his work and current developments, and his answers gave me much upon which to reflect. A useful reminder that England has been through odd times before is provided by Neil’s amusing and incisive review of Derek Jarman’s apocalyptic film Jubilee from 1978. In Music, Neil also examines the career of the recently deceased Mancunian visionary Mark E Smith.
Art contains Paul's superb account of the life and struggles of one of England's most ignored and underrated artists, David Bomberg. It also features reviews of two major exhibitions. Paul movingly reviews the recent blockbuster Royal Academy show Charles I: King and Collector, which combines a number of stunning masterpieces with profound pathos. He then provides an entertaining consideration of a history of the Academy itself, and its own current summer show.
Non-fiction sees Mark getting to grips once again with the peccadilloes and peculiarities of our ancestors in an entertaining review of A Day at Home in Early Modern England by Catherine Richardson and Tara Hamling. Paul evaluates Peter McNeil's Pretty Gentlemen, a new offering on the first style subculture in England, the macaroni who scandalised eighteenth-century society. Finally, Steve looks at the latest offering in Peter Ackroyd's monumental History of England series, Revolution.
Fiction contains Mary’s insightful appreciation of Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase series. To mark the 70th anniversary of the Windrush’s arrival, I review Samuel Selvon’s poignant and funny novel from 1956, The Lonely Londoners. I also found a collection of E. M. Delafield’s wartime sketches delightful, and full of detail on home front trials and tribulations.
Last but not least, in Music Em reviews a number of recent releases, including Handel, Walton, and Delius, and James is delighted by the debut album from new talent Talitha Rise.
Right, that’s enough sitting at a hot computer. I look forward to seeing you all again in winter—blissful thought. January will see the first of our two commemorative fifteenth anniversary editions, and we’re all as excited as it is possible to be in this heat. Take care till then.--The Editor