Sunday, 19 May 2019

Professor Branestawm.

Am I stingy towards other writers?
On I've listed a total of 255 books which I've read, yet I've only given a five star score to 32 of them. The first two of those went to Rudyard Kipling, who died in 1936.

And the third was to the book that made me laugh more than anything I've ever read since. Norman Hunter's "The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm."
With brilliant illustrations by Heath Robinson.

Monday, 6 May 2019

All the Dark Air by Livi Michael - book review

Can't understand why this book has no reviews on Goodreads. It's a very good story, moving if troubling. I picked it up to read on a long train journey, 5 hours and three changes later I arrived somewhat dazed by the emotion of the story.

All characters are strongly drawn and feel very real especially the lonely and uncared for Julie, whose story it is. She loves Michael, or maybe when she began to love him, at school, she was in love with the idea of loving Michael and never managed to shake it off. Whether Michael loves her is another question. She lives with him and his uncle Si and Michael's best mate Darren.

Most of the story takes place during Julie's prolonged pregnancy, which isn't truly prolonged but feels that way to Julie and to the reader. Occasionally the POV seems to slip, but mostly it is Julie's. Her journey ends with a party to celebrate a death that hasn't happened yet, then with her in the hospital for a birth that hasn't happened yet. I understand why the ending comes there, though it seems abrupt.

The author is compassionate to all her characters, even the absurd ones, even the violent ones, whilst being unsentimental describing their flaws. She's non judgemental, just shows the traumas of lives and how people have to manage to get on with things in their own way, alone. It's a sad story, left me wondering how the characters fared afterwards. That's how real it feels.

Garage Sale

7 garages in Fulham, London were sold for £700,000.
They're welcome to also buy my garage for £100,000.

This period property has brick walls, an almost leak free tiled roof, painted double doors and an enormous clematis all over the roof which enters under the tiles and fills the loft space, encouraging huge spiders and I dread to think what else.

Sale to include:- 
a 30 year old road bike (tyres shot), 
17 loudspeakers of varying vintages, 
11 bits of carpet - random colours, 
3 lino off-cuts - fake tile effect, 
1 rusty wheelbarrow, 
2 tea-chests of old paperbacks that never got unpacked when we moved in, 
117 random bits of timber that might be useful, 
2 broken bookcases (could be why the books were never unpacked..), 
370 black plastic flowerpots (with snails), 
1 box full of cables and other useful bits of wire (need unravelling), 
13 cans of nearly finished paint, 
a bike rack that fits neither the car nor the bicycle and 
2,174 other equally fascinating and potentially invaluable objects. (Not to mention a squirrel's nest - the squirrel would prefer to remain anonymous).

Forgot to mention, you can't drive into the garage because a wall has been built at the wrong angle blocking one door and a neighbour parks his Mini far too close to the other door 
...also it's not in Fulham.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Psephologist - Word of the Day.

The Greek word psephos means pebble. So maybe I'm a psephologist, I spend time every week on pebbly beaches. But no. The relavent pebbles were used by the world's first democracy as ballots.
So, a Psephologist, in case you don't know (I certainly didn't ) is someone who specialises in using history and scientific analysis to examine election results. Good luck with making sense of Yesterday's local election!results. Whatever people felt like stuffing into the ballot boxes, it wasn't just pebbles.

Enough pebbles for a landslide...

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.