In Town Tonight


A while ago (although not as far into the past as the evidence above would suggest – twitter it seems is feeling nostalgic) a good friend pointed me in the direction of a tweet from comedian Mark Steel, principally because Mrs Weir and I live on the periphery of the “major international Norfolk hub” that is King’s Lynn.

The tweet was an early call for a programme in the ninth series of Mark Steel’s in Town, where he “visits towns across the UK and creates a stand-up show for a local audience based on what he finds out about the area”. So having lived in and around Britain’s 6th happiest place to live* for most of my days, I was able to snap into action and confirm that King’s Lynn does indeed come with an apostrophe.

However, as I think it’s important to love where you live I also shared some more meaningful highlights of the town with Mark and his producer Carl, many of which appear to have made the final cut of the show (am particularly pleased that I managed to get Ongar Hill mentioned). And in return, they very graciously stumped up the cash to pay for a return trip on the ferry across the Great Ouse to West Lynn – something that Mark seems to have particularly enjoyed, despite the absence of any destination to speak of (sorry West Lynn).

Am still feeling marginally guilty for inadvertently highlighting the fictitious nature of a letter sent to the local paper extolling the virtues of the town, and for pointing Mark in the direction of the unfortunate happenings at our inordinately handsome Carnegie library, because as I’ve said before while King’s Lynn now struggles to be considered “by far the most beautiful and interesting town in Europe” it’s not a bad place to call home.

The King’s Lynn episode of Mark Steel’s in Town is broadcast tonight at 6:30pm on BBC Radio 4, then repeated on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 31st January at 7.30am, 5.30pm and the 10pm. And if you manage to miss each and every one of those then it’ll also be available for another thirty days on the enormously frustrating BBC Sounds app.

*According to a somewhat spurious survey conducted by the people at Rightmove, which saw King’s Lynn sandwiched between Royal Tunbridge Wells and Epsom – not something that happens very often.

People At Work


I have to admit that I was less than convinced when I originally became aware of Penguin’s plans to publish a number of titles spoofing Loughborough’s very own Ladybird Books, given that it’s an imprint very close to my heart.

As it transpired my concern was misplaced as over the last few years Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris have produced a series of consistently very funny books (under the guise of Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups) while at the same time always making great efforts to respectfully acknowledge the artists responsible for the source material.

Perhaps unsurprisingly as a Ladybird obsessive I have bought (and thoroughly enjoyed) each and every book published under the Grown-Ups title, so it’s good to be able to add a copy of this final book to the collection.

The Wonderful World of Ladybird Books for Grown-Ups sees Hazeley and Morris (alongside another Morris who I think should be mentioned in dispatches given the volume of work he’s (I’m presuming) done in this final book with the artwork and design) bring the series to a close with a final flourish –  and this book is a joy.

While I’m here I should also mention this episode of the Art Detective podcast that sees host Dr Janina Ramirez talk to Joel and Jason about their love and admiration for the art of the Ladybird book – have a listen it’ll be an hour of your day very well spent.

BLOG - Stevenage

BLOG - Derek Jarman's Blue

While Mrs Weir is off watching a game of association football in the North of London, I’m at home catching up.

This includes sorting through a host of recently acquired books including a number from the New Penguin Shakespeare series which each come with enormously handsome woodcut-print cover illustrations by artist David Gentleman.

I’ve been collecting these on and off for a number of years now, through occasional finds in second-hand bookshops and charity shops but I’m still a number away from the complete collection (not that there is a complete collection as Gentleman was somewhat bafflingly replaced as the artist of choice before he’d finished the set himself).

One of the latest batch arriving here at Weir HQ is of particular interest given that it seems to be the copy once owned by Tom Craik, a professor of English at Durham University. I know this because on further examination of the book two letters from Dr Ann Thompson (who is now an Emeritus Professor of English at King’s College London) written to Professor Craik appeared from deep within the pages.

The letters ask for Craik’s advice in preparation for work she was doing on a new edition of the play for the Cambridge University Press. And if the preface of the edition I found on a popular online bookshop is anything to go by he obviously wrote back, “In addition I have had expert advice from Gary Taylor on textual matters, from Tom Craik, C. Walter Hodges and Marion Lomax on questions of staging…”.



Given my lack of activity recently, returning with a blogpost on slow radio seems entirely apposite.

A new wave of slow radio arrives on the back of BBC Radio 3 promising a more rigorous commitment with a raft of commissions that will provide listeners with “a chance for quiet mindfulness and a consideration of the world from another angle.” This promise, which follows on from similar ideas over at BBC Four, sounds like a promising one, and future programmes will include a variety of recordings from an evening at the zoo, to the sounds of Durham Cathedral, and then on Christmas Eve a three-hour walk through the Black Forest with writer Horatio Clare.

The first programme in this series (I think) comes from composer Iain Chambers whose contribution sees him work with “six major European museums to document the huge change within our acoustic landscape”. Apparently, his “hoerspiel for Westdeutscher Rundfunk was a finalist in the 2016 Prix Palma Ars Acustica” which would probably sound impressive if I had any idea what it meant.

Anyway enjoy, and keep an ear set for further programmes in the series.

Earlier volumes of Speechification can be found here Vol.001, here Vol.002 and here Vol.003, and further episodes of BBC Radio 3’s previous series into this more sedate approach to radio currently live here.

Normal Service


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Blog - Paul Farell

I was intending to do some exploring last weekend however a viral infection of my upper respiratory tract meant that my time in deepest darkest Sherwood Forest and its environs was somewhat short-lived. I did manage to make it into Nottingham to shuffle around in the rain for a few hours, where I picked up a number of very handsome cards by Paul Farrell from his Brutal is Beautiful series. 

In further brutalist news, if you remain unconvinced by Paul’s assertion that the brutal can indeed be beautiful then I should point you in the direction of John Grindrod’s latest book How To Love Brutalism. It’s an impossibly handsome publication with some grand illustrations from The Brutal Artist and it comes highly recommended to you regardless of your love for all things concrete.

Myth Or Legend


BLOG - Damien Hirst

Whilst Mrs Weir was elsewhere celebrating (somewhat) the beginning of the end of Le Professeur, Mrs Weir Snr. and I travelled the short distance required to see Damien Hirst at Houghton Hall.

Although I wasn’t entirely convinced by what was on offer from the UK’s richest living artist (I’m sure he’ll struggle on regardless) there were some high-points. Myth and Legend, the two sculptures sat directly outside the house looked particularly good against the brilliant blue sky (although that isn’t always part of the show) and Observe, Identify, Reason, Analyse, Measure, Modify and Reproduce / Space, Time, Form, Matter, Substance, Change and Motion, two pieces of kinetic sculpture found inside the Stone Hall were entertaining if somewhat reliant on their inspiration from the bingo halls of Britain.

The highlight of our visit for me wasn’t anything by Hirst but, as ever, James Turrell’s Skyspace which is one of the permanent fixtures at Houghton and worth the price of admission on its own.