Paul Robeson

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For centuries, lilac has been prized as a cut-flower. Photograph: Richard Johnston

What is it about a lilac in full bloom that so touches the heart? The poet and essayist Walt Whitman called this woody plant’s intensely perfumed flow(...)

There was something quintessentially Dublin about the fact that, after many years of lobbying for the erection of a statue to commemorate Luke Kelly in his native city, two were unveiled on the same day this week. Photograph: Paul Kelly

There was something quintessentially Dublin about the fact that, after many years of lobbying for the erection of a statue to commemorate Luke Kelly i(...)

Louise Brooks in “Pandora’s Box”: director GW Pabst wanted her for the role.

Watching the newly restored version of Pandora’s Box, one can’t help but suspect that Louise Brooks, who died in 1985, is some contemporary YouTube st(...)

Witch-hazels are one of the most beautiful of flowering shrubs at this time of year. Photograph: Richard Johnston

If you love to grow even a little of your own food, then tomatoes – or ‘love apples’ as they’re sometimes known – are almost certainly one of your all(...)

Susan Sarandon: “Hollywood isn’t political. Hollywood is about profit. Photograph: Jake Chessum/New York Times

Dig around a bit and you will find footage from 1974 of Susan Sarandon discussing Richard Nixon on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Unmistakab(...)

Saul Williams: “I started to earn money from reading poems. I didn’t even know you could do that.” Photograph: Geordie Wood

Struggling for recognition never came into it for US poet, writer and actor Saul Williams. On a dodgy phone line from Paris, a city he lived in fro(...)

Sam Smyth of Urban Plant Life surrounded by the Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), one of his favourite indoor plants. Photographs: Richard Johnston

It’s not easy being a house plant. Too often, it’s expected to have the endurance skills of a French Foreign legionnaire along with a supernatural (...)

‘My favourite film of the week was Voice of the Voiceless, a black-and-white masterpiece about a deaf girl dancing on the New York subway as she looked for money from commuters’

I bought a coffee in a cafe. That was the beginning of a story. It could have gone anywhere. Then I drank the coffee while talking to a waitress, w(...)

An assortment of tomatoes including ‘Polen’ and ‘Dr Carolyn Pink’. Photograph: Richard Johnston
Top 10 tomatoes

W hen s omeone asked me recently to name the perfect tomato, my reply was “perf(...)