Saturday, 23 March 2019

A thought on brexit - which is an abomination of word and deed.

To the so called prime minister.
I will not listen to your pathetic press conference.
I will not endorse your perversion of democracy.
I will not condone your party’s defaming of my country.
I don’t suppose you want to know what I think,
I will tell you anyhow.

Please hold out your hands and imagine
I am giving you a rounded object
No not a bomb – I am a civilised person.
This is a rough, stone lump the size of a coconut.
Dull and heavy isn’t it?
This inert thing is a dinosaur coprolite.
It was shat out
Sixty-six million years ago by a beast
so vast and so ugly and so stupid,
it needed a second brain in its arse
just to be able to void primitive bowels
all over the doomed Cretaceous plains.
You, on the other hand, are not that impressive
if smelly beast, neither are you its once putrid dung.
You are the botfly maggot which slithered and slurped
in the slimy crevices and creases
of the crinkled, stinking, reptilian anus
which produced this huge, fossilised turd.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Word of the Day; Coprolite.

My word of the whole month really. Apply to whichever politician you want, there are plenty of deserving choices.

Its meaning - fossilised turd.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Decimate - Word of the Day

I do get perturbed by certain words, but I get far more perturbed when people use words which they don't seem to know the meaning of. The word 'decimate' doesn't mean to destroy or to devastate, it means to reduce by one in ten. Please tell the TV news journalists - all of them.
Before anyone starts,  let me just say yes, I agree that the English language changes, of course it does. And online dictionaries are starting to say that decimate means to devastate or to destroy. I just want to know what's wrong with the words devastate and destroy? Their meanings are not quite the same so to use one or other of those would be more precise, but decimate has become a favourite word in the news media, where precision is seldom their objective. A punishment for a rebellion in the Roman army was to decimate, literally to kill one in ten of the soldiers.

"A cohort (roughly 480 soldiers) selected for punishment by decimation was divided into groups of ten. Each group drew lots (sortition), and the soldier on whom the lot of the shortest straw fell was executed by his nine comrades, often by stoning, clubbing, or stabbing. The remaining soldiers were often given rations of barley instead of wheat (the latter being the standard soldier's diet) for a few days, and required to bivouac outside the fortified security of the camp.[3]  As the punishment fell by lot, all soldiers in a group sentenced to decimation were potentially liable for execution, regardless of individual degrees of fault, rank, or distinction."      Wikipedia
Wikipedia, yes I know. But is that any less likely to be correct on this particular issue that any other encyclopedia or dictionary? Every academic/expert writing entries in any of those had a position they wished to take, how does that differ from the enthusiasts who contribute to Wikipedia? I haven't the enthusiasm to delve deep into the original history of the Roman military.

Anyhow I can't read Latin.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

King Solomon's Carpet by Barbara Vine - Book review

A great story, very well written and increasingly tense and unpredictable, one of Barbara Vine's darkest creations. A feeling of impending catastrophe grows as the story's convolutions wind and wander.

There are a dozen or so characters, all misfits in their own way, but who is the protagonist, the main character? Is it Jarvis, the obsessive railway enthusiast who is writing a history of the London Underground? Is it the poor little rich girl who goes on the tube for the first time in her life and loses her wedding dress? Is it Alice, a talented violinist, fleeing her loveless marriage to Mike? Or maybe it's young Jasper who's careless mother Tina lets him skive off school and ride the underground with his friends? Or Jed, who owns a demented hawk, or Tom the busker with delusions of grandeur, or Axel the dangerous stranger who has a dancing bear. Maybe it's Jasper's grandmother Cecelia, who is in love with her best friend.

Some of these people are more unhinged than others. They and others live in or visit a ramshackle former school where a former headmaster had hanged himself with the bell-rope. By the end of the story his is not the only death.

The main character is actually the London Underground, a surface section of which the garden of the old school backs onto. The presence of the tube permeates the entire novel, the people are all bit players by comparison, their stories depend on it.

Set in around 1980, the book seems somehow old fashioned for that era, the writing style and characters don't feel quite modern enough. But then it was published in 1990 and the author was born in 1930, so it's not so surprising. The faint scent of quaintness doesn't detract from the obsessive grip the story has on its characters, or the reader.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Cold Handed Man

Great music and great Video by my very talented brother and his friends

Word of the Day, Doldrums

Doldrums - technically an area of the ocean where sailing vessels could become stuck for lack of wind.

More recently - being stuck with nowhere to go and no idea how to get anywhere anyhow.  Remind you of something?

Bad Luck and Trouble - a Jack Reacher Story by Lee Child

I knew I'd read a lot of thrillers in my teens and I knew I'd read at least one Lee Child novel in the past but couldn't for the life of me remember which. Bad Luck and Trouble fell into my hands from a shelf of books for commuters to share and/or replace at the small train station near my home. 

I approve of this trend to put shelves of books in public places. I nearly didn't choose the Lee Child book because it's a thick paperback, but the only other book I felt like reading at the time was a heavy hardback which I really didn't feel like carrying around all day. It seemed a bit random, does anybody else decide what to read based on the weight of the book? 

Anyway I picked up Bad Luck and Trouble and read it on the train to London. 

In London I went to see Macbeth at the Globe theatre - a play in the Globe's indoor auditorium which is without electric lighting. Macbeth, by candlelit, was completely gripping, grim and dramatic. 

On the way home I read some more of the book and finished it the next day. Bad Luck and Trouble is also completely gripping, grim and dramatic. And incredibly well written, the author's skill is mesmerising, drags you along even when you don't want to go. I easily finished the 500+ pages in 36 hours despite the Macbeth distraction. 

Would I read Bad Luck and Trouble again? Probably not, I'll return it to the station bookshelf. I will look for more Lee Child books because of his writing quality. Maybe I'll try the earlier ones so I can see where jack Reacher is coming from. Would I go to see Macbeth again? Yes. Not sure how that comparison stands up, but there it is...