The retirement speech of General Douglas MacArthur. A talk on three Caravaggio paintings by a National Gallery curator. Several hours of woodland noise to fall asleep to. All 13 episodes of Civilisation. Clips of how Gavi is coming on at Barcelona. An interview with Saul Bellow on Swiss Italian TV. A review of the De’Longhi Dedica coffee machine. A Tame Impala gig I missed in Hackney last summer. Gore Vidal drawling his way through Venice for 90 minutes. A guide to the five tones in spoken Thai.
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. Someone’s hour-long drive through my old neighbourhood in LA. A documentary about the Meiji Restoration in French. How to re-pressurise a boiler. The academic philosopher Anthony Quinton explaining Wittgenstein. Martha Nussbaum explaining Aristotle. An American expat eating bánh cuon in Hanoi. A British expat eating prawn pad kaprao in Bangkok. Versions of L’Orfeo from the Barcelona and Zurich opera houses. A discussion of how close China came to industrialising in the Song dynasty. Four parkour runners seemingly beating the Tube in a race from Moorgate to Farringdon stations. A 158-minute interview with Emmanuel Macron. How to use an Indesit washer-dryer. The above is a basket of goods from the great souk we call YouTube. I pay a tenner a month for these videos. I could put up with adverts and pay nothing.
When good Americans die, wrote Oscar Wilde, they all go to Paris. Of course, Americans can be impatient people, and quite a few, hoping to beat the queues, don’t wait for death. Many good American writers, plus quite a few British and Irish writers, have made their way to Paris with the idea that in the City of Light they will be able to find their literary voice in a way that would not be possible in Des Moines or Darlington or Dublin. Or at least get a seat on the terrasse of Café de Flore.
A hundred years ago, Ernest Hemingway, arguably the most famous of the American literary expatriates, first climbed the stairs with his wife Hadley, past the shared toilets on each landing, to their cramped fourth floor flat in 74 Rue du Cardinal Lemoine. The apartment, Hemingway wrote to a friend back home in Chicago, “would not be uncomfortable to anyone used to a Michigan outhouse”. Hemingway was only 22, and hadn’t yet written anything of note. The couple were sustained by Hadley’s small trust fund and by news stories that Hemingway filed to the Toronto Star.