Culture Corner


Autumn 2018 looks set to be a hot one for arts and culture. From bisexual dating shows, Beatles album reissues and gay icons to the best seasonal walks and even an Alan Bennett revival, our culture advisor Darryl has it all covered – including a free ticket giveaway.

Q&C culture advisor Darryl

Q&C culture advisor Darryl

I love these crisp, autumnal mornings: time to take the tweeds out of mothballs, shake the dust off my favourite scarf and don my walking boots to watch the trees changing colour. And there’s no better opportunity to do that than during the Dursley Walking Festival, 3-7 October, a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the South Cotswolds.

Located on the Cotswold Way, Dursley is an ideal base for walkers, and the recently launched “Dursley Lantern Way” takes its name from the local legend that, during the 19th century, Dursley gentlemen guided their ladies (and more than likely their male lovers too) through the darkness by their untucked shirt tails! A circular way-marked route from the centre of Dursley via Cam, Coaley and Uley, offers up panoramic views over the River Severn and beyond, a section of the route will feature in the Festival, which this year has been expanded to cover four days and 18 different walks, ideal for you whether you are a seasoned walker or stroller.

Visitors to the magnificent Tyntesfield House are being encouraged to make the most of the gardens this autumn and discover the estate’s tallest tree, a giant redwood which stands at 32m (104ft) tall. Visitors will be able to get up close to the tree, and find out more during a series of autumn events that include “Golden Tree Walks”, four newly-developed routes that take in different views across the Somerset hills and the different ages of the trees on the estate as they transform ready for winter. The walks are marked by handmade golden leaf markers, created using wood felled at Tyntesfield.

The Grounds in Autumn © National Trust Images / Alana Wright

The Grounds in Autumn © National Trust Images / Alana Wright

If you’re a seasoned walker, and fancy something a little more challenging, then Walk Scilly (as opposed to Silly Walks!) takes place 11-15 October offering you that chance to discover this often-overlooked part of the British Isles, and enjoy incredible sunsets, fields of scented narcissi, hedgerows bursting with life and a wealth of birds and wildlife. Days are often still warm and sunny in October, others can be windswept, but whatever the weather, around every corner there’s another feast for your eyes to enjoy.

The wildlife on Scilly is simply spectacular with glorious resident and migrating birds, seal pups to spot, and bats to seek out as twilight falls. The hedgerows and rock pools are fantastic for foodies who fancy a foraging feast, and new for this year are multi-media walks in collaboration with the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust that include sonic walks with sound artist Laura Denning to explore the sonic ecologies of the Isles of Scilly, and immersive flower walks with leading botanical artist Bee Watson which will also involve sketching and a paper flower-making workshop.

Back in the dry, take off your boots, stoke up the fire and sit back and relax to some great music. There are a number of excellent new albums I urge you to check out, including the fourth solo album from former Czars’ frontman John Grant, who is also touring the country throughout the autumn (and again early next year) to support the release. Love Is Magic is Grant’s most electronic record yet, produced in collaboration with Benge, member of electronic trio Wrangler, who – as Creep Show - collaborated with Grant on the album Mr Dynamite.

Grant says that Love Is Magic is “closer still to how I’ve always wanted my records to sound, but I didn’t know how to go about it. The lyrics, of course, continue to be very important to me: they’re just snapshots of everyday life where myriad moods and every sort of horrible and hilarious occurrence one can imagine mix with the pedestrian resulting in the absurdity and beauty of life.” The tracks I’ve heard so far sound very promising and prove to be another blinder from Mr Grant, who plays Brighton, London and Bath at the end of October and has announced further dates for the UK across January and February 2019.

I’m currently listening to We’re Not Talking, the second album from quirky Aussie indie kids The Goon Sax, who played in Bristol recently. James Harrison, Louis Forster and Riley Jones, all from Brisbane, were still in high school when they made their first album, the truly wonderful Up to Anything, and this new collection sees them stretching out, growing up (although they’re still all just 19 or 20 now) but still dealing with teenage angst, self-doubt and the joys of first loves. A little darker and more sophisticated than their debut, it’s still an absolute joy, and highly recommended if you like Jonathan Richman, the Go-Betweens and the Only Ones.

Coming On 2 November is Blackmail, the latest single from Return of The Fabric Four, the first new album by London four-piece Corduroy in nearly two decades. Formed in December 1991, while the world was obsessed with grunge and Britpop, the “Fabric Four” inhabit an altogether different world with their cinematic instrumentals, and the new album and single offer up the same heady mix of swinging sixties soundtracks and pop art imagery. Available as a three-track digital EP, Blackmail has a John Barry sensibility welded to a funky, almost trip-hop vibe. I like it!

On 9 November The Beatles issue a 50th anniversary celebration of their seminal White Album, the 1968 double which saw the band take a step back from the more complex psychedelia of Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour to rediscover their rock ‘n’ roll roots. The sprawling set has everything from belters like Back in the USSR and Yer Blues to the musique concrete of Revolution Nine and tender love songs such as Julia and Blackbird. There are several versions available, from a straightforward 2LP through to a four album set (featuring the legendary Esher demos) and even a seven CD box complete with hard back book, a 5.1 surround sound mix and 50 mostly unreleased outtakes from the original recording sessions.

My husband already knows what I want for Christmas!

Manchester’s “Louder Than Words” festival takes place in the city’s Principal Hotel. Over the weekend of 9-11 November, visitors can meet to hear, share, discuss and celebrate the best of published and unpublished words associated with music and popular culture industries. This year’s line-up features authors, actors and musicians including David Gedge of the Wedding Present and Squeeze’s Chris Difford. On the Saturday afternoon yours truly will be there too, contributing to a discussion on gay icons including Madonna and David Bowie, talking about why pop divas are so crucial for the gay community and why is it important to document the queer history of popular music. I’ll be sharing the panel with Lucy O’Brien, author of “Madonna: Like an Icon”, along with Matt Cain, novelist and former editor-in-chief of Attitude magazine. Between us we shall be exploring these questions and playing extracts from iconic tracks.

If binge watching is more your thing then we have something that you’ll love: The Bi Life is the first series broadcast in the UK to focus exclusively on bisexual+ dating. Set in Barcelona and hosted by Shane Jenek (a.k.a. Courtney Act). The series premieres at 9pm on 25 October on E! in both the UK and Ireland.

From the people behind Made in Chelsea, this ten-part dating series follows a group of bisexual+ (bi, pansexual, fluid, or questioning) British singletons on an adventure to find love abroad. The cast live together, party together and help each other navigate the rocky road of bisexual+ dating.  Throughout the experience, the cast support and encourage each other as they date and meet new people in sunny Spain.

You have been warned!


And finally, Alan Bennett’s award-winning 2009 play The Habit of Art is having its first revival and currently touring the country. Q&C has secured four pairs of tickets to give away to readers for performances in either London or Salford. The play centres on a fictional meeting between W. H. Auden and Benjamin Britten while Britten is composing the opera Death in Venice. Matthew Kelly and David Yelland star as the legendary figures. So, if you’d like the chance to win one of two pairs of tickets for either the Lowry in Salford (12-17 November) or the Richmond Theatre in London (15-20 Oct) read on:

To be in with a chance of winning the tickets please answer the following question: What is the job title of Lloyd Cleverley who we featured recently in Queen & Country? Is he a…

A) Farmer

B) Farrier

Or a

C) Game Keeper

Drop an email with your answer to James, our esteemed editor, at