Monthly Archives: August 2011

Haters unite (No heeltaps!)

A pint of Rebellion - Too warm? Too cold? Don't care? Care too much?

Does shared hatred bring us together more than shared enthusiasm?

A character in Reginald Hill‘s book Pictures of Perfection suggests “that when a politician wants to really unite the electorate, he looks for a common hatred rather than a common enthusiasm.” Is he right?

I go through three stages with Reginald Hill’s writing. I begin by finding it a bit contrived, then some flash of humour trips me up into enjoyment and by the end I find myself relishing the surprises and satisfaction he offers. So I commend Pictures of Perfection to you – though I think The Reckoning would have been a better title.

But back to the hating. Two characters – police officer Wield and bookseller Digweed – overcome their initial antipathy through shared whisky and a discussion about what they hate. It’s a pretty good list.

“Snobs.  I don’t like snobs. How’s that for starters?”

“Excellent. No quarrel there. My turn. Little Hitlers. People who turn a molehill of authority into a mountain of obstructionism.”

“Fair enough. Politicians.”

“Spot on. Undertakers.

“They’re only doing a job,” said Wield defensively.

“Of course. But do you like them?”

“No,” admitted Wield. “Beer that’s too cold.”

“Beer that’s too warm.”

“People that don’t care about beer.”

“People that go on too much about beer Continue reading


Filed under art, What I'm Reading

Recession books

Oh no! The worldwide credit crunch is now transforming classic literature!

Animal Farm Closure has just been released in a Costcutting Special Edition – with recumbent penguin. Well, the cover has anyway. What would George Orwell make of it?

So what will be next to feel the impact of the recession?

Gullible’s Travels suggests Wuthering Depths.

 Can other famous books be far behind? Continue reading


Filed under art, politics

She’s lying…

This is a roundup of lies, good news and alarums.

Starting with an adventure in Slovakia. Or was it Czechoslovakia? It’s all a little confused.  Renée Schuls-Jacobson at Lessons for Teachers and Twits knows all the juicy details. She’s been writing about how she and I first encountered each other face to face in her excellent post entitled – I’m Lying About How We Met.

Here’s a taster. It’s icky. 

Blackwatertown and I met on a chilly day in Bratislava as we fled hand-in-hand across an icy river. We’d had to spend an uncomfortable night hiding in a chicken coop because we couldn’t find a proper hotel. Covered in feathers and fowl feces, we carefully made our way across the creaky ice. I am forever grateful that he was willing to share his single mitten.

Next, something to make you oscillate with optimism or boggle with bitterness Continue reading


Filed under blogs, life

Portrait of the Artist (with credit cards)

This face caught my eye.  It’s a detail from the painting below. And the artist was larking around nearby so I was treated to both the faces he made and the one he wears.

There may well be meaning in the painting, but it just struck me as clever and imaginative. Which could also go towards summing up the area of London where it was hanging. I saw it inside Time for Tea on Shoreditch High Street.

Nearby was a big painted message urging passersby to – Let’s Adore and Endure Each Other. Yes. Let’s.

And there was a shop selling paramilitary teapots and facial decorations for your light switches. In other words, all the essentials.

Which got me thinking: Which rules – east or west?

East London (where I’ve been wandering of late) is clearly cooler, younger, livelier, edgier, more creative and more interesting than the leafier, more sedate west end of this world city. True – you can buy wine with Stalin’s picture on the bottle. But if you were an ineffably cool jazz singer, where would you choose to live? It’s obvious. In the EAST. Probably on a boat. (With or without a bookshop attached.)

But hang on. There’s more to the world than just London. Jim Morrison sang The West is the best. Was he right? Continue reading


Filed under art