Why, in words of Arabic origin, is "q" allowed to appear without the "u" that always accompanies it in English? I've been writing "burqua", but I notice most of you have it as "burqa". An alternative- justified by the practice of The Times, no less- is to go for a "k"- as in "burka". I think I prefer it. The "u"less "q" is unEnglish and my gorge rises at it. "Burka" still looks foreign, but less rule-slightingly so. I think I'll adopt it in future. Likewise I mean- if I can be bothered to remember this resolution- to refer to that book as "the Koran".
BBC 4 has a rather good series running about The PreRaphaelites- those English art revolutionaries who have always been immensely popular with the public but viewed a little sniffily by the sort of people who write histories of art. Last night, in episode 2, a strong case was made for regarding Ford Madox Brown as the first painter- anywhere, and a decade ahead of the French Impressionists- to paint human flesh in direct, out-doorsy sunlight. The painting in which he broke through the barrier has the unfortunate title (which has surely held it back) of "The Pretty Baa-Lambs". There's an image of it- merely adequate, but conveying some idea of the vibrancy of Brown's colour- here. I think it's true to say, as they were saying last night, that it's quite unlike anything that had been done before in European art.