Isherwood & Bachardy’s Furry Love Letters

Mark Simpson reads the collected love letters of ‘Dobbin’ & ‘Kitty’ and gets covered in hair (The Independent 20/9/13) Contrary to what the pop songs tell you, the language of love is not universal. It really isn’t the same the world over or even on the same street. Everyone’s love affair is utterly unintelligible to everyone else. It’s perhaps the whole point of having one. Which can make reading other people’s love letters a baffling if not slightly pointless experience. Katherine Bucknell’s The Animals (Chatto & Windus), a […]

The Anti-Christ Has All The Best Tunes

The P2P revolution is like Gutenberg plus Protestantism plus Punk all rolled into one highly compressed file, by Mark Simpson  (Independent on Sunday, August 2001) Perhaps the best thing about digital music is that it doesn’t only make listening to music more convenient and less irksome: it actually does part of the tiresome job of listening for you. ISO-MPEG Audio-Layer-3 – mercifully shortened to MP3 – is the digital file format for music exchanged on the Internet and very possibly the acronym of doom for […]

How to Spot a Sodomite

Mark Simpson reviews some famous Victorian bum holes in Neil McKenna’s Fanny & Stella  (the Independent) “I had never seen anything like it before… I do not in my practise ever remember to have seen such an appearance of the anus, as those of the prisoners presented.” So testified Dr Paul in shocked tones at the trial of Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton, two young, crossdressing clerks charged with sodomy in 1870 – a crime that then carried a penalty of a lifetime’s penal servitude. Park and […]

The Few, The Proud: A Jarhead memoir of the First Gulf War

The mythology, the rituals, the dogma, the cult of masculinity and most of all the haircut, set US Marines apart. Mark Simpson takes a look at a memoir of the First Gulf War. (Independent on Sunday 23/03/2003) It may seem odd that the United States Marine Corps, the elite fourth branch of the US Armed Services, larger and better equipped than the whole British Army, heroic victors of Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal, spearhead of the last and current Gulf War, should be best known for, […]

Mad Men and Medusas

Coming across this old review of Juliet Mitchell’s ‘Mad Men and Medusas’ (Independent on Sunday, 2001) reminded me that pretty much all the main characters in the TV series of the same name launched in the late Noughties are hysterics, but most especially Madison Avenue’s Don Juan, aka Donald Draper. I hope Mitchell is getting a royalty. by Mark Simpson A touch of hysteria can make you a real hit with the ladies. If you play your symptoms right, eminent feminist scholars might even end […]

Apollo’s Acolytes

We worship the body, watch ancient battles at the multiplex, and bow down before the gods of celebrity. Mark Simpson marvels at how much our culture owes to those skirt-wearing olive-munchers, the Greeks (Independent on Sunday 30 May 2004) Philhellenes are everywhere, and everywhere they look they see the glory that was Greece. “Today we are again getting close to all those fundamental forms of world interpretation devised by the Greeks…” enthused one of the more famous examples; “we are growing more Greek by the day.” […]

What Happens When a Giant Brain Meets Kylie?

Genius, pop Svengali, theoretician of cool: Mark Simpson gets to grips with the man who really listens to `La la la, la la la-la la…‘ (Originally appeared in Independent on Sunday 03/08/2003) What do you hear when you listen to ‘Can’t get you out of my head’? This is a bit of a trick question as you probably don’t listen to ‘Can’t get you out of my head’. Not because, like most hit pop singles that are played endlessly on the radio, in shops, pubs, hospitals and […]