Canoe on river Wye next to reeds
River Wye at Foy, near Ross-on-Wye (131 ft), June 13

I completed a 10-mile journey by canoe yesterday (with my companion, Jon) from the village of Hoarwithy in Herefordshire to the town of Ross-on-Wye. It is a free-flowing wild river — undammed and as a result has one of the largest fluctuations in depth of any river in the country. Yesterday, however, it was like a stagnant millpond. With a headwind. Birdlife was profuse — many herons, ducks of all types, moorhens, crows, swifts, a kingfisher and more swans and cygnets than I’ve ever seen on one river. In other news…

Madagascar’s greatest poet. No, I’d never heard of him either.

Antananarivo (4199 ft), June 22 1937

I had never heard of Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo until I was sub-editing a review for an album this week that mentioned him. He is not only regarded as the greatest poet in Madagascar’s history, but one of the greats of all Africa, and yet he only lived into his mid-30s. His death was a striking as his life — his committed suicide by cyanide poisoning, and not only wrote a final poem but also made a final journal entry describing in detail the experience of his suicide. I found this piece of information tragic but also fascinating. It seems he was trying to emulate earlier French poets he admired, and so burned many manuscripts before this last, horrific artistic act.

Hey, ‘Girlfriend’

Tune! Dâm-Funk — LA funkster Damon Garrett Riddick — delivers a cheeky funk beat held in check by Christine and the Queens — so chic French cool.


It’s just started raining. Thick, muggy raindrops quite out of the blue. What was a bright June afternoon is now hemmed in. It brings to mind one of the great passages of a great novel — A House for Mr Biswas by V S Naipaul. Even if you have no connection to Trinidad, a small island in the south Caribbean, or to an Indian family, or the feeling of torpor that comes with knowing too much for your station, read this book for its vivid depiction of a life. For all that passes us by, something must happen. In attending to what does happen, Naipaul gets it.

“After all, Brexit means Brexit”   

A ‘Eurocrat’ in response to the European Commission’s insistence that contracts for the sensitive Galileo satellite positioning system cannot go to providers outside the EU (British firms have about €1.5 billion worth of contracts). [Courtesy of The Economist]