Recent Commonplace Entries


“Peter Laszlo Eotvos was born on Jan. 2, 1944, in the Northern Transylvanian municipality of Szekelyudvarhely, Hungary, which is now Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania. His father, Laszlo Eotvos, was a lawyer. His mother, Ilona Szucs, was a pianist and music teacher.” (from obituary of Peter Eotvos in NYT, March 31)

“It always surprises people who haven’t studied economics to discover that most economists can’t read a balance sheet. ‘The higher the qualification someone has in economics, and the more prestigious the university, the more likely they’ve never cracked the spine on a set of company accounts,’ he [Davies] says.” (Frances Cairncross, in review of Dan Davies’s The Unaccountability Machine: Why Big Systems Make Terrible Decisions – and How the World Lost Its Mind, in Literary Review, April)

“For Gutkind, creative non-fiction entails ‘writing true stories that provide information about a variety of subjects, enriched by relevant thoughtful ideas, personal insight, and intimacies about life and the world we live in’. This could mean just about anything.” (Rosa Lyster, in review of Lee Gutkind’s The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting: How a Bunch of Rabble Rousers, Outsiders, and Ne’er-do-wells Concocted Creative Nonfiction, in Literary Review, April)

“To be clear is to be boring, provincial, unaesthetic; besides it is more difficult to withdraw from a position openly expressed and definition restricts the fluidity and complexity of everything that is neither real nor unreal but simply is.”  (from Sarah Gainham’s Night Falls on the City, p 111)

“Everyone who engages in conspiracy goes through the first stage of finding it easy, makes a mistake and goes to the opposite extreme, seeing hostile intrigue and danger in everything. This happens inevitably, changing character and relationships, killing generosity and spontaneity, putting every man’s hand against his neighbour.” (from Sarah Gainham’s Night Falls on the City, p 242)

“Such secrets can never be hidden in an intimate relationship, they creep into consciousness by some other route than any open communication, and there is no moment that can be looked back upon and labelled the moment at which everything was first shown.” (from Sarah Gainham’s Night Falls on the City, p 307)

“There are many statesmen and generals whose reputations rest on a prominent nose and chin or on commanding height, on the manner of power taken for granted; only in crisis or to those who know them well is it clear that a habit of saying little and a talent for obeying orders has saved them from making fools of themselves.” (from Sarah Gainham’s Night Falls on the City, p 456)

“You could, for instance, put together a theoretical cabinet made up of Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Rachel Reeves, Yvette Cooper, Lord Mandelson, Lord Heseltine, Angela Eagle, Baroness Vadera (the first woman to head a major British bank), Guardian writer Afua Hirsch, Labour MP Rushanara Ali and former Pakistan PM and international cricketer Imran Khan. That would look wonderfully diverse from an ethnic, gender and sexual orientation perspective – as well as having a wide political balance – but you would have recruited a body of people who all read philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford. There would be no representation whatsoever from the approximate 99.96 per cent of the UK adult population that does not have an Oxford degree in PPE.” (Ross Clark in the Spectator, April 13)

“I do not normally use research assistance, because to do so automatically rules out unexpected finds that the specialist alone will recognize for what they are. Granted, not everyone who sets out in the wrong direction discovers America. But ordering the wrong file in haste can have a back-handed advantage, in that what turns up may be a document more useful than what was requested. Similarly, ransacking library stacks for a book that has been taken out may lead to works whose existence was unknown to the researcher. Serendipity is everything to the alert historian.” (from Jonathan Haslam’s The Spectre of War, p xv)

George Weidenfeld and Denis Healey Corner

“Last year my husband and I celebrated our ruby wedding anniversary. We had organised a dinner in London for 100 of our closest friends.” (Introduction of letter to Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved, in Spectator, April 20)

“Of course, the same could be said of other conditions that affect the brain, from dyslexia to dementia. Individuals with SLCs, however, face more stigma; most neurodiverse people are not stereotyped as evil. And that stigma brings into sharp focus the problems faced by neurodiversity campaigners, and indeed by any minority seeking to improve its lot. They make two potentially conflicting claims. One is: ‘Morally, we are like you – ‘If you prick us, do we not bleed?’ – so we deserve fair treatment’. The other is: ‘We are not like you, in that your societal setup disadvantages us, so making reasonable adjustments would make society fairer and enable us to be more productive citizens’.” (Kathleen Taylor, in review of Patric Gagne’s Sociopath, in the TLS, April 19)

“In fact, she said, there was a ‘kind of freedom’ in East Germany, where the ideology of equality meant less stress, competition and greed, and where there was comparatively little to strive for in a society that had only a few options for consumer goods.” (Jenny Erpenbeck, quoted by Steven Erlanger in NYT profile, April 27)

3 Responses to Recent Commonplace Entries

  1. Pingback: On Privacy and Publicity | Coldspur

  2. Michael

    Not sure where to find on the map “his . . . redbrick house at Purely with its back-garden tennis-court”. Just south of Corydon, perhaps? And a few other typos this month, which are I believe abhorred by you.

    • coldspur

      Thank you, Michael. That damned autocorrect feature, I am sure. I have rebuked my Chief Editor, Thelma. But I am responsible: the buck stops here.

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