Slightly delayed but extremely plump, the Winter edition of Albion now lands with a heavy thud on your virtual doormat. (The unusually bad flu season took its toll on many of us, hence this edition's appearance in February instead of January.) It contains an extremely wide range of articles, from the sublime, such as the artwork of Turner as examined by Paul, to the wonderfully ridiculous: the sleep habits of our ancestors detailed by Mark provided me with some much-needed hilarity.
In fact, the oddities and peccadilloes of previous generations seem to be something of a theme in this edition, though this was not at all intentional. The outrageous art of Aubrey Beardsley and outrageous life of Thomas De Quincey are the subjects of two different and compelling articles, by Paul and Mark respectively. War and its aftermath also loom large: alongside Paul's poetic analysis of the Paul Nash retrospective at Tate Britain, Steve compassionately unearths some little-known facts about the Blitz, in a review of Joseph Levine's new book on the subject. Rereading Orwell's superb essay "Some Thoughts on the Common Toad" from 1946 provided me with a salutary reminder that political turmoil and a lack of civility are not merely hallmarks of our age, but eternal human problems. The difficulties and hardships faced by those of previous eras are also highlighted in my review of Peter Hall's 1974 film Akenfield, based on Ronald Blythe's book, and by Neil's sensitive take on the melancholy television classic Johnny Jarvis from the 1983.
There is a good deal of fantasy and some cosiness here, too. Mark provides an extended appreciation of the final edition of Tom Philip's gnomic and multifarious work A Humument, one of the major art products of the 1960s and imbued with the time's anarchic playfulness. Just before Christmas, I was delighted to be shown around the "still-life drama" of Dennis Severs' House at 18 Folgate Street in the East End of London. It offers a chance to leave the modern world behind and retreat into a magical, if occasionally rather spooky, environment conjured by its original owner and, today, by its brilliant curator David Milne, who was kind enough to speak to me at length. Mary's insightful article on the parallels between the classic English school story, as refined by Talbot Baines Reed, and the fantasy genre gave me some arresting new food for thought. James reviews a major new book on the beloved television series which was affectionately known in my household as All Creatures Large and Titchy, and interviews its author, in a piece that captures the enthusiasm that is still widely felt for this endearing show. Those who feel that the world is too much with them will also benefit from reading Em's spa review, in the Diversions section. Both she and James provide a large number of engaging and inspiring CD reviews, covering a wide field from blues to the ethereally pastoral. Finally, just look at Michael's picture of three pigs above Kinver (Staffordshire), which adorns our homepage. Aren't they splendid?
We hope that you enjoy this edition, and agree with us that it has been worth the wait. As it is now definitely too late to wish our readership a Happy New Year, we will content ourselves with hoping for happiness and tranquility for all, now and in the future. As Tom Phillips has shown us time and again, it never hurts to dream. Best wishes. --The Editor