Sam “Remember the Alamo!” Houston – who used to be an American Indian, according to the Childcraft Encyclopedia.
I think the sequence of my favourite books may have gone something like this…
The Biography volume of the Childcraft Encyclopedia (or was it Cyclopedia?) – the obscure pasts of famous Americans.
Followed by Ulster, A Sunday Times Insight Investigation – oh look, they’re writing about us.
For a while it was… The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I found it in an odd place. “It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard‘.”
Then it was… Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis – happy endings, but don’t read while hung over: “He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he’d somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police.”
It is (and has been for a while)… A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor – robust and exquisite. (And I want part 3 for Christmas.)
But the best books I’ve read lately are The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I was late getting to both of them. Both arrestingly good. (Never mind the reviews to which I’ve linked.)
But if I really really have to choose one, from the very very many I value and return to, it would be Continue reading
Man shovelling. Shhh!
Aah… the weekend. Time to relax. Recharge. Rejuvenate.
Re… reach for a shovel. (Wasn’t that an S Club 7 song?)
Lift the sewer access hatch.
And start digging.
Through packed “sludge”.
There’s nothing like blocked drains to remind you of one of the essentials of civilisation – good plumbing Continue reading
Steve Dodds (THE Steve Dodds) and an astronaut called Buzz Aldrin. You might have heard of him.
Quick! Give me something to calm me down! I can’t cope with the excitement – the surprise – and the fear! (Not to mention the exclamation marks!)
First it was Buzz Aldrin – I encountered him through work today.
Buzz Aldrin. THE Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Aldrin!
Buzz Aldrin in his work clothes. Yup. He’s on the moon.
He was charming, chatty, understated and interesting – as you’d expect. He was supporting the Aerobility charity effort to raise funds for a flight simulator for people with disabilities.
So he talked about that a bit. But I have to admit I was thinking the whole time – but what about space, the rocket, THE MOON!!! We did get on to that Continue reading
I’ve written a thriller called Blackwatertown. Some pivotal action, romance and revelation takes place at the local Blackwater Lake. So I was very pleased to receive from my mate Kirsty, some poems her Dad had spotted.
They’re by Mary Oliver and talk about her own Blackwater Pond and the wonder and joy and challenge of living.
My Blackwater is both real and fictional and can be found inside my book and on the Irish border. I’m not sure where Mary Oliver’s Blackwater is. Can anyone enlighten me?
Mary herself is an acclaimed poet from Ohio. Here are two of her poems.
Mornings at Blackwater
For years, every morning, I drank
from Blackwater Pond.
It was flavored with oak leaves and also, no doubt,
the feet of ducks.
And always it assuaged me
from the dry bowl of the very far past.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
The third stanza, darling citizen, is wonderful, is it not? I have a quotation from Napoleon at the beginning of my story at the moment: “What is history but a fable agreed upon?” Maybe I should change it – or add to it Continue reading