The Cut Season 2 Episode 28

Well yes so football, apparently. Any excuse to throw beer in the air instead of down your neck which seems to be the more logical place for it to go. For those of you who enjoy such diversions, have a jolly nice time and we hope you get the result you want. As for The Cut… business as usual.

This week, that business includes the race to document the Titanic before it vanishes, an extremely horrible book and the pitfalls of translating English nonsense verse into Chinese.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

Continue reading The Cut Season 2 Episode 28

The Cut Season 2 Episode 27

We understand there to be a sporting fixture scheduled for this evening which will garner the attention of a significant portion of the British public. Here at The Cut, we remain mildly uninterested in the whole rigmarole, although we obviously wish the national team the very best of luck. We’re waiting for the Olympics, frankly. At least there’s a bit of variety.

This week, join us in the joys of accidental connections, the delight of queer beer and bounce with us to a wild reinvention of a classic slab of metal.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 2 Episode 26

It’s been a long, busy week. The afterglow from our staff retreat barely lasted a day before it was wiped away with the demands of the fast-paced, high-pressure world of newsletter production. But we are here for you, Readership. Our sacrifice is your reward.

As we start this sunny weekend, let us entertain you with the insides of bowling balls, the fiftieth anniversary of a stone cold classic and the eerie sounds of The Apprehension Engine.

Now is the time. Here is the place. This is The Cut.

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The Cut Season 2 Episode 19

By the time this episode drops, the Cut Crew will be on retreat, comfortably snugged into a big cottage by the sea, somewhere far from Reading. It will be a time of healing, a chance to regain perspective, a moment to reflect and re-energise as the world swings into whatever it’s deciding to call normal this week. We hope, Readership, you’re able to find your own path through the woods and out into the sunshine.

In this episode—purple Smurfs, Duke Ellington’s tips on creativity and the costumes of Ferris Bueller.

If (time) = NOW and (place) = HERE then (this) = … anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

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The Cut 🗡️Issue 23

We had a link from Wired as the opener this week, on how the work/life balance has become irretrievably skewed (https://www.wired.com/story/how-work-became-an-inescapable-hellhole/ if you’re interested) but we realised you all know this already. So let’s put that nonsense to one side and instead centre up the nonsense you have come to know and love over the last several months.

This week, scary sound effects, an iconic bus route and a really rather funky musical instrument you can all play.

Now is the time, here is the place. This is The Cut.

Continue reading The Cut 🗡️Issue 23

Memory Palace: Snowshill Manor And The Mind Of Charles Paget Wade

Snowshill Manor seems, at first glance, to be just another one of those National Trust sites that attract coach parties, couples of a certain age and bored families looking for a bit of culture before the kids drag them off to the play farm up the lane. It’s a rambling sixteenth-century country house, set in attractive gardens. Pretty, but pretty unremarkable.

Or it would be, were it not for the gentleman that owned it through a chunk of the twentieth century–artist, artisan and obsessive collector Charles Paget Wade. Scion of a family made rich through sugar estates in the West Indies, he bought the Manor House after serving time in the trenches during World War One.

He was at that point already a keen curator of a collection with the broadest remit possible–anything that caught his eyes as having artistic merit or exhibiting a certain level of craftsmanship in its creation.

Wade refitted the Manor in an Arts and Crafts style, a discipline in which he was skilled and fluent. He set about turning Snowshill Manor into the showcase for his obsessions, creating themed rooms filled to the eaves with his finds.

This is what makes the place so fascinating. Wade was an artist, and believed in drama, mood and excitement. When he handed over care of the place to the National Trust, he insisted that they do as little as possible to the interior, to preserve the effect he had worked so assiduously to create.

Snowshill Manor is not your typical NT experience, then. There are no labels, little in the way of explanation as to why the rooms are the way they are. Volunteers are on hand if needs be, but for the most part you are left alone to wander… and wonder.

As you move from room to room, the feeling becomes ever more disorientating and claustrophobic. There is reason and design to the collection, but the sheer weight of visual load becomes ever more difficult to bear. There are 22,000 objects collected in the 22 rooms of the Manor. There is a room dedicated to musical instruments. One to bicycles, particularly boneshakers and penny farthings. There is a room full of samurai armour.

The collection is so huge that Wade was forced to move out, relocating to the adjoining Priest’s House. I’d love to say that it offers a respite to the onslaught. If anything, it’s even more deranged. Here is Wade’s bedroom. Imagine waking up every morning to this.

It’s impossible to take everything in. You begin to hallucinate, as the space reconfigures around you, your perception rewriting with every new burst of stimuli. I have never felt so strongly the impression of being watched, of being gently guided towards a place that I didn’t necessarily want to go. Some of the rooms were roped off. The official story was that there were not enough volunteers that day. I feel more that they couldn’t have people wandering in there without some form of protection.

Wade was without any argument a man that understood the theatre of his collection, and there’s a performance at play. You’re sent on a labyrinthine route around the house, traversing a maze that becomes a jigsaw puzzle that becomes, ultimately, a trip through the corridors of Wade’s own head.

Or is Wade wandering through yours? There’s a strong feeling that the trickster left more of himself in Swanshill Manor than the National Trust is letting on. Is the place haunted? Hard to say. Would I care to spend a night here alone? You couldn’t pay me enough.

Charles Paget Wade reveals himself, briefly.
Charles Paget Wade reveals himself, briefly.

I make the place sound like the work of a isolated madman, yet Wade was personable and popular. He was visited by J.B. Priestley, Virginia Woolf and even royalty–Queen Mary stepped over the threshold. I can understand why artists would be charmed and amused by the sheer volume of the place. But there’s also a sense of relief when you find one last turn finally spits you out into the gardens, and you can feel the horizon open up again, and you realise how much the walls and ceilings have been closing in around you.

Snowshill Manor is a remarkable place, something close to a nightmare tucked into a crook of road close to some of the Cotswold’s prettiest towns and villages. Un-nerving and energising in equal measure, it’s a house possessed (and I don’t use that word lightly, Readership) with its own very particular character. I recommend a visit. Make sure you bring friends.

Snowshill Manor is open for most of the year. For more, check the NT site: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/snowshill-manor-and-garden

The Best Of 2014

Who does a best of the year show before the year’s up? Not us, hombre! We’ve made sure 2014 is good and dead before we drop our verdict.

Join Rob and Clive. with Speakeasy playmates Graham Williams, Keith Eyles, Chris Rogers, Simon Aitken, Neil Myers, Dominic Wade and Stuart Wright in our epic exploration of the art and events that made 2014 the fourteenth year of the 21st century.

Settle in. This is gonna be a long trip.

Download the podcast here (right click)