We said we would have women painters and Christmas, but who knows, Karin Larsson might have painted some of Carl’s paintings and never confessed to it. So this is Carl Larsson’s Christmas  – but might be Karin. HAPPY CHRISTMAS to all readers of the Post. The shop is open on Monday and Tuesday but the Post is taking two weeks holiday. When it returns it will be the promised politics-free zone.



From The New European today: ‘This isn’t about whether the government is Conservative, Labour,
Lib Dem or Green. It isn’t about Leave or Remain. It’s about allowing our society to be built on lies, deceit and dishonesty. People saw their prime minister refuse to look at a photograph of a sick child; people who already knew that he had lied to them and “discounted” it. They watched him bluster and dodge and dive. And they didn’t care. They still believed that he had their interests at heart, that his Brexit would be good for them, that Corbyn would bankrupt the country. And so they voted for him. And that is why we are sunk.’ It seems absurd to put up a nice picture of Christmas roses when this Christmas is a period of mourning and reflection. But here, as is traditional, is a painting of them. It is by Charlotte Elizabeth Smith (1871-1951). And we promise that in the New Year, when we have ‘got over’ things, the Post will return to its formerly politics-free zone. (But we should add – we are SO grateful to the readers of the Post and the Letter who have written to say that appreciate our stance.) (Link to The New European here.)

Thomas, Margaret, b.1916; Christmas

Three and half centuries after Clara Peeters: Margaret Thomas (1916-2016) Christmas. We had a different Margaret Thomas painting on the Post three years ago, here. This one is oil and charcoal on wax paper and is at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh.

Peeters, Clara, c.1585-c.1655; Still Life of Fruit and Flowers

The wonderful Clara Peeters again: Still Life of Fruit and Flowers. It’s at the Ashmolean. How soothing that would be: to go and visit it and then have a proper tea at the Randolph Hotel opposite. Shades of The Pursuit of Love (if there are any Persephone readers who haven’t ever read this marvellous book, we always have it on the ‘fifty books we wish we had published’ table. Yes Nancy Mitford was a snob and yes she was enraging in many ways; but this book is glorious, right up there with Middlemarch and Rebecca and Cranford).

Peeters, Clara, c.1585-c.1655; Still Life with Shellfish and EggsAfter all the fury, incomprehension and deep sadness (because now we shall be excluded from the great European family) we have no choice but to tidy the house, wrap presents and look forward to Christmas. On the Post this week: women painters who have celebrated Christmas. First Clara Peeters (c. 1585-1655) Still Life with Shellfish and Eggs. It’s at Shipley Art Gallery.


Our sadness cannot be put into words. Some of the people we care about are still MPs – Keir Starmer, Tulip Sadiq, Rachel Reeves, Rosie Duffield, Wera Hobhouse. But Dominic Grieve! And so many others. And the fact that we shall now leave Europe. It’s the bleakest Friday 13th we have ever known. Only ray of light: we had always promised ourselves that if the UK left Europe, we would return to Berlin, which our ancestors left in 1933. This will now happen. How or when and whether for a month or a week or six months is all to be decided. But the thought of a small flat in Charlottenburg is the only thing keeping us cheerful this bleak Friday morning. Here is our heroine Ursula Von der Leyen on Wednesday announcing the European Green Deal. From which the UK will now be excluded.

4109458_1200xZuzana Caputova is Slovakia’s youngest-ever President. If only… But we try to keep cheerful. And of course this will be very much helped by the presence of Naska, the office dog, with us for a couple of days while his owner makes a last-minute canvassing push and then celebrates/drowns his sorrows. Come on, the good, kind, decent people of Britain – show the world that we aren’t all lying, dishonest, self-interested buffoons but that we Brits seriously, seriously want to make the world a better place!


Who wouldn’t love Elizabeth Warren and long and pray for her to be President? Obviously half of all Americans don’t love her, as half of all Brits don’t love the idea of ridding us of the Tory stranglehold. But we liberals can go on hoping and hoping for better times ahead. And if tomorrow brings another four years of right-wing values, we shall not give up.

KMhR5ODIn Britain we have two more days to fantasise that we could become a forward looking and kind country. But we are all very much prepared for the horrible reality of Friday morning – that yet again elderly, bigoted men will dominate our politics and women will be lucky to get a look in. Yes, we know that it’s only a hundred years since we were allowed the vote. But watching the disaster unfold here is deeply painful. Although, who knows, maybe the innate decency of the British people – we still believe in it – will pull us through… This is Finland’s new Prime Minister Sanna Marin, she is 34. Alas, alas this couldn’t happen in the UK.  Quick question: which are our five most political books? Answer: William – an Englishman, National Provincial, Despised and Rejected, The Call and Tory Heaven (there are fifteen in our Political books list here, this is exactly one ninth which seems a rather satisfactory proportion, not too many and not too few).

0000000001C002402C4We promised you something political on the Post this week (and we promised not to rant). Thus the most positive and uplifting thing to post is surely pictures of women politicians we admire, indeed fervently admire, so if we were going to allow ourselves to rant it would be say – why oh why can’t the UK have someone of their calibre instead of the shabby, dishonest, incompetent crew we are lumbered with? Yes there are many , or perhaps several, exceptions. And btw one tends to glimpse the most brilliant people on the Parliament Channel during some run-of-the-mill debate when an MP of whom one had never heard before stands up and speaks with eloquence and intelligence. However, these are not qualities displayed by anyone in the cabinet. Hey ho. We are still faintly optimistic that the overall decency of the Brits will make itself felt on Thursday. But only faintly. For now, this week on the post,  the first woman politician we admire is Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand (which is having a horrible time at the moment). Here is an article about her from Foreign Policy which said: ‘In an era defined by the emergence of populist leaders who are often authoritarian, reactionary, and male, Ardern stands out as progressive, collaborative, and female. Her speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 fueled her growing reputation as the “anti-Trump”. She called for, among other things, kindness and collectivism as an alternative to isolationism, protectionism, and racism.’ Kindness should be the keyword for all politicians. We are wishing…

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