Filed under: Arts, books, creativity, movies | Tags: filth, irvine welsh, james mcavoy
When did you last see a film poster that had an “idea” in it.
James McAvoy going to extremes in Irvine Welsh’s Filth.
I love the career ladder made up of Cocaine.
Filed under: books, business, creativity, humour, jokes, life, Rants, stories, swearing, work, writing | Tags: apostrophes, death of the apostrophe, lynne truss, proper syntax, waterstones
Some fucking dick in the Waterstone’s marketing department thinks the apostrophe is an inconvenience in the digital age.
Yeah sure it is in a url, but we all know that urls don’t need punctuation and everyone, even Lynne Truss, will live with that.
However, to use that as an excuse to rebrand Waterstone’s as Waterstones is absurd.
It’s a fucking bookshop.
It should be the last bastion of proper syntax for fuck sake.
It is utterly unforgiveable.
It’s like the Driving Standards Agency hiring blind people to take driving tests.
Before you know it we’ll have section’s for biographys, comic’s, childrens book’s, and busine’ss section’s.
Or is that bastards’ or bastards or bastard’s or bas’tards or bas’tard’s or bas’tard’s’
I give up. In apoplexy.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, books, business, creativity, family, gigs, golf, humour, life, movies, photography, Scotland, stories, theatre, tv, videos, work | Tags: 2011, 2011 in hindsight, best of 2011, gibberish, mark gorman, review iof 2011
2011 was rather less fraught than 2010. I didn’t work to such ridiculous extremes, and the year end saw my portfolio change quite considerably compared to 12 months ago. Three big new clients at year end were Maidsafe, Vets2 and Front Page Design, all autumnal starters and all brilliant to work with. My STV contract finally came to an end after three years but its been great and I am very grateful to them for all the work.
Some old troopers still stand by me; 60 Watt, Paligap, The Usability Lab, Corporation Pop, Ampersand and LA Media, with occassional work from a small number of others.
To you all; slainte and have a great 2012.
If my golf was bad in 2010 it beggared belief in 2011. I gave up my membership at Dundas Park and clearly that did not have a galvanising effect on my game. I was shit awful on both trips of the year and even my winter game has been poor.
We didn’t go away as a family in 2011, for a variety of reasons but I had the holiday (maybe an exaggeration to call it that) of a lifetime in June when Ria and I went to Glastonbury. To say it was memorable would be something of an understatement. There is one abiding memory of it, I have to say…the bogs.
But there were other memorable sights and moments, like this…
Which brings me onto my musical highlights of the year.
My best of CD which you can have if you like included these tracks…
In a good year for music my song of the year, without question, was Video Games by Lana Del Rey.
My albums of the year were;
Bad as Me by Tom Waits (overall my favourite record)
Let England Shake by PJ Harvey
You and I by The Pierces
The English Riviera by Metronomy
A creature I don’t know by Laura Marling
50 Words for Snow by Kate Bush
Hotel Shampoo by Gruff Rhyss
Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow who also performed the gig of the year at Glastonbury (closely followed by King Creosote at The Liquid Rooms)
A different Kind of Love by Bombay Bicycle Club
21 by Adele
I did a lot of cinema in 2011…
Here’s what I thought of what I saw in my IMDB profile…
Two ten out of tens and a few nines show that it was also a good year for movies. In retrospect I plump for three as my best of the year
A Separation and
On TV This is England 2008 moved me to tears and was by far the year’s greatest offering. I liked Top Boy too.
I didn’t read a great deal this year but have really enjoyed
The Brothers Sisters by Patrick DeWitt.
The Childrens Hospital by Chris Adrtian.
And Filthy English, The How, Why When and What of Everyday Swearing by Pete Silverton.
But the best read of the year by far was…The Guardian which I grow deeper in love with.
This was a big year of theatre for me. I reckon I saw at least 20 different productions but easily the stand out was Dance Marathon in which Jeana and I and Chris and Liam danced our asses off for five hours before I was told I was relentless by the Producer. We also had amazing nights at The Kings for James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors and The Lyceum for both Dunsinane and Age of Arousal.
This year was sadly marked by way too much illness among our friends for me to want to dwell on but Matt, David and Jenny I am thinking of you now.
Also, we lost James King, Joyce Cambell and Fiona Pirie from FCT and Rachel Appolinari at the outrageous age of 19. RIP all of you. xxx
All of the family have blossomed in the past year, thank God, and long may it continue. In particular Amy has shown an almost exponential growth in confidence and skills in many different areas.
2012 is University year for Tom and Ria should they both choose to go down that path.
And so, to 2012. It’s the year I turn 50, Amy 21, Tom and Ria 18 and I aim, with Pete the Meat, to lose at least 50 pounds each before we turn 50 in May. We are raising money to do so and you’ll soon hear of our plans.
Thanks for being my reader once again in 2011. My year end Technorati rating was an all time high closing in on a top 1% of all the blogs in the world rating.
16,000th out of 1.2 million.
I’m recording an interview about David Ogilvy and his impact on the world of advertising tomorrow for BBC Radio Scotland with Victor Brierley and Graham Atha. So I’ve read Ogilvy on Advertising and looked at some of his heritage, such as this “lecture.”
Whilst he is a great copywriter, no doubt and established a very effective global agency neither of the aforementioned facts get in the way of him being a hugely opinionated, arrogant and particularly irritating man.
“I don’t do rules” he says.
Never have I read a book so full of rules as Ogilvy on Advertising.
That said. He incisively and instinctually notes many, many truisms that hold true 35 years after he wrote what some consider a seminal work.
Me, I can take him or leave him.
Anyone that says creativity is the most dangerous word in the lexicon of advertising is fundamentally wrong.
Sorry. That’s just wrong.
Filed under: books, creativity, Scotland, stories | Tags: Aberdeen, Alan Spence, entrepreneurialism, Industrialisation of Japan, Japan, Japanese Emperor, Kirin Beer, Nagasaki, scottish engineering, Shogun, Sri Chimnoy, the Pure land, Thomas Blake Glover, Thomas Glover
Alan Spence writes interestingly on aspects of Scottish Life that few others have explored. His 1998 novel, Way to Go is a hilarious comedy set in a funeral parlour in Glasgow in which the owner ha reluctantly inherited the business from his father and decides to make a go of it by being “alternative”. It’s a great read.
This 2006 novel is a far bigger book in its scope and theme.
It charts the industrialisation of Japan from the eyes of an Aberdonian entrepreneur, Thomas Glover, who inspired both Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon; and whilst focusing on his rags to riches to rags to riches story brings in three further generations of the family briefly.
It is set principally in Nagasaki opening, as it does, in the aftermath of the second nuclear explosion in the home of a rich man that sits on a hillside shielded from the worst effects of the explosion but not of the after effects.
It then takes us back to 1850′s Aberdeen where a gallous and up for it freshman is dispatched by his engineering company to “The Pure Land” to help run its fledgling office.
Away from the prying eyes of his bosses and officialdom Glover gradually build an illicit business in trading first cotton and silk, then tea before moving gradually through munitions, ships, mining and heavy engineering.
Along the way he regularly enjoys the pleasures of the Japanese womenfolk, Whisky and Saki and inadvertently starts a revolution (which is wonderful for business.)
The man is a hustler, a rogue, a mercenary and all round troublemaker but Spence focuses on the human side of his character and at very few points in this grand novel do we ever lose our like of his fundamentally caring and genial humanity.
Whilst the novel feels a little heavy handed at the start we gradually find ourselves being drawn into the huge scale of its storytelling and ultimately it becomes an intriguing historical reference point and a great story of empire building and its implications on the people around the Trump’s, Murdoch’s and Hughes’ of this world.
According to his website Spence has long been passionate about the spiritual culture of Japan. He has recently been exploring the work of the Zen Master Hakuin, (1685 – 1786), who was one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism.
Overall, very likeable and another good shout from Spence. Nice man too. I met him a few years ago and enjoyed his take on things. For those of you that know it he runs the Sri Chimnoy Centre in Edinburgh.
A novel, in dramatic form is how the publisher’s describe this 2006 two header. It’s a play right.
It’s also (another) polemic on religion and puts up a white middle class and suicidal university professor against a black ex junkie and con who has only just saved the disillusioned Prof from death on the tracks at a commuter train station just as The Sunset Limited (get it?) comes thundering through at 80 mph.
The pair repair to Black’s flat and debate the meaning of life.
Is Black God’s angel? We never get to know.
White is representative of the aetheistic world. Not amoral in any way and not judged particularly but striking in his dismissal of religion.
McCarthy’s recent books delve deep into spiritual territory and make one feel that underneath it all he could be a fundamentalist christian, but in fact, in a recent interview in the Washington Post he spills the beans on his religious leanings (he was brought up an Irish Catholic but says religion was not a huge part of his childhood).
“I have a great sympathy for the spiritual view of life, and I think that it’s meaningful. But am I a spiritual person? I would like to be. Not that I am thinking about some afterlife that I want to go to, but just in terms of being a better person. I have friends at the Institute. They’re just really bright guys who do really difficult work solving difficult problems, who say, “It’s really more important to be good than it is to be smart.” And I agree it is more important to be good than it is to be smart. That is all I can offer you.”
So no clues there as to why there is such a sustained religious undercurrent to his work; perhaps it’s an age thing (McCarthy would have been 70 when he wrote this) and No Country for Old men (another book about avenging angels – The devil) and The Road (which could not be more nihilistic or meaning of life/spirituality if it tried.) were also written in his 70′s.
But is it any good?
Thought provoking? To a point.
Must read? Indeed not. But it’ll pass a couple of hours better than some of the shit that gets to print.
Filed under: Arts, bbc, books, creativity, photography, tv | Tags: BBC, bbc costume drama, BBC Drama, Chris O'Dowd, michel faber, romola garai, the crimson petal and the white
I love Michel Faber’s writing and it’s a toss up between this and Under The Skin for his greatest work. The two could be no more different; Under the Skin is a taught contemporary sci fi horror set in Scotland and this; an 800 page monstrous take on Dickensian Victorian London.
Both are really great books and consequently both run the risk of taking a good pasting when put on screen.
There has been many year’s of talk that TCPATW would be Hollywood-made and for a while rumour had it that Kirsten Dunst was to be the heroine, Sugar. However it fell eventually to the BBC to make this near epic adaptation. I say near epic because big and bold as it was I think it had even greater potential.
The previews did not make great reading; the panel on Newsnight Review, with the honourable exception of Maureen Lipman, annihilated it, so I approached fearing the worst.
I needn’t have worried.
The, at times, over tricksy focus pulling in the camera work was a bit heavy handed but this was overcome on balance because otherwise it was excellent (moody, creepy, almost surreal in places and beautifully emphasised by a particularly odd (in a good way) score written by newcomer Cristobal Tapai de Veer).
The set and costumes are astounding and the acting of the entire cast, but Particularly Chris O’Dowd (the IT team) and Romola Garai were of BAFTA winning standards, and had to be to pull it off.
In particular O’Dowd’s tortured portrayal of sappy rich boy William Rackham is magnificent. It’s as if he can’t decide how to play the role, but that’s just how Faber wrote it. In the end he comes across as merely a weak sap who is only in it for himself. Perhaps he cannot help it as we frequently see when he is led astray by his particularly vulgar “friends”.
Romola Garai, by contrast, is nailed to the tracks in the conviction of her character, as the upwardly mobile Sugar; pulling herself out of the stench thanks to the interest of Rackham who gradually exalts her social profile in a London where status was everything (and boy did she have status in the underworld, starting off as the top prostitute in London). Her gritty but sometimes tender performance is the beating heart of the book and this ultimately excellent adaptation.
It’s still on iplayer but I’d wait for the DVD and splash out.
For me it would play out better as an epic four hour movie rather than a four part TV series.
Wonderful. Bring on the BAFTAs. (And the Emmys).
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity | Tags: aldous huxley, brave new world, sci fi, soma
I’ve just finished rereading this some 30+ years after my first open jawed appreciation. Reading it again it strikes me as a colossal school text in comparison to what kids read today. This book sets out to define religious, scientific, economic, political, cultural, sexual and moral guidelines under the cloak of novelistic freedom of speech.
In particular the religious and political views Huxley expresses are nothing short of challenging. How I, as a 16 year old, could have been expected to take them all in is absurd and indeed even now it’s a challenge.
This book is as full of insight as anything I’ve ever read. The scientific soothsaying alone is remarkable. But for me the core of the book is played on a religious axis. It’s strong stuff indeed.
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity, family, life | Tags: british novels, family, grief, jonathan coe, lesbian literature, lesbianism, melancholy, suicide novels, the rain before it falls
Jonathan Coe has had me rolling in the aisles in his previous books (The Rotters Club, House of Sleep and What a Carve up) and I’m grateful to Ian Dommett for pointing me in his direction; so The Rain Before It Falls really took me off guard.
For a start, it’s not funny, not funny at all.
And then, I’m not entirely convinced it’s well written. Or is it brilliantly written?
Let me explain.
It’s entirely narrative, in the style of a memoir from an ‘ordinary person’ (persons actually) and so is not about flashy prose.
I cannot honestly work out if this is the book’s great strength (it held me and it was a page turner from start to finish) or dissapointed me in the extreme. (It’s kind of so banal.)
So, I’d welcome elucidation.
The premise is interesting enough; dying old lady reveals life of lesbianism and occasional fostering of neices and blind kids, her life is unfulfilled so she tops herself but not before instigating a mini detective story searching for a strangely loved potential benefactor.
Is it good?
Did I enjoy it?
Filed under: Arts, books | Tags: 4th estate, American democrats, American novels, Contemporary fiction, Freedom, Jessica berglund, Joey berglund, Jonathan franzen, Jonathan Franzen freedom, Jonathan Franzen the corrections, Jonathan Franzen typos, Patty berglund, Richard katz, The corrections, typos, Walter berglund
Just as the Millenium was turning and as we moved into a century that might unveil more change, some might say progress, than any other Jonathan Franzen put the finishing touches to the novel that sits proudly amongst the great American novels so far in this unnerving first 11 years of the third millenium.
It wasn’t visionary, there was no great insight into what lies ahead. Instead it was a heartfelt and deeply moving story of a dysfunctional American family circling around the gravitational pull of their poor Althzeimic patriarch as he gradually fell to bits. Utterly tragic and morbidly beautiful, it remains one of my favourite American novels.
Almost a decade later Franzen returns with his new magnum opus, a dark and brooding, heartfelt story about an American family, in this case a stoutly Democratic one – but more on that later, that circles around the gravitational pull of their poor politically correct patriarch as he gradually falls to bits. It will remain one of my least favourite American novels.
This is a deeply disappointing piece of writing. Smugly anti Democratic, or at least a branch of Democratic practitionership that in the UK smacks of the sick lovechild that Tony Blair and Nick Clegg might conceive. A child that you’d just want to slap, and slap hard until it came to its senses and realised that the real world with its real issues and lack of self obsession needs to be listened to and not lectured at.
I spoke to my friend Victoria about this turd of a novel when I was two thirds done with it and she’d long consigned to the bin marked “fuck you pseud!” Like me she hated every single character with the exception of super cool lothario and musician, Richard Katz, Dick Katz I say.
It’s a story about the ebbs and flows of a very profound relationship between PC Eco warrior Walter Berglund, frankly a dork, and his hateful self obsessed emotional tram-smash of a wife, Patty. Whilst their love IS deeply profound they both find the time to have lengthy, disruptive and very meaningful affairs with equally caricaturised protagonists in this tedious tale. One dies, suddenly and unexpectedly towards the end; you know what, I didn’t give a flying fuck. See ya, wouldnae wanna be ya (anyway, you’re lucky, you got shot of creepy Walter this way). The other, well he just loses interest and fucks a few more groupies.
The son Joey becomes a raging Republican and tries to fuck the most beautiful WASP in the world, but being of lower “stock” fails miserably while turning his girlfriend (nay wife) into a depressive wreck, like his mother, whom he despises (yawn). The daughter Jessica is a cold hearted bitch who’s character is least well resolved despite having a mammoth 562 pages in which to do so. (562 pages that are strewn with typos which really made me laugh because Franzen is a known perfectionist – Walter, meet Jonathan. Jonathan meet Walter. Oh, you already have? Ahh, that’s presumably because you are one and the same I assume.)
I mean, 562 pages, does this man not have an editor for chrissakes? The section in the first part of the book where Patty is psychoanalysed for 70 pages is at least 30 too long. But that’s because, I think, Franzen has disappeared up his own publicity.
In short, Franzen has created a monster. It’s cliched, it’s unpleasant, it’s a nihilistic book with none of the passion and real insight of The Corrections, and it feels like a formula. I don’t know what went wrong. But I feel sure that under the watchful eyes of a more challenging editor Franzen could have turned this into a more believable and engaging read.
(Now, don’t get me started on John Irving. Of late.)
And, so to the ending…SPOILER ALERT…they all live happily for ever fucking after. Jesus give me a break.
“It’s me” she said “Just me.”
“I know.” he said, and kissed her.
And, in that, half a lifetime of emotional abuse was resolved, In an instant.
Filed under: Arts, books, family, humour, life, politics, Rants, Scotland, stories | Tags: parenthood, parenting, philip larkin, they fuck you up, this be the verse, your mum and dad.
Philip Larkin’s seminal poem, This be the verse, is a cultural icon in the poetry world as it bemoans the difficulty of adolescence.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They fill you with the faults they had And add some extra, just for you. But they were fucked up in their turn By fools in old-style hats and coats, Who half the time were soppy-stern And half at one another's throats. Man hands on misery to man. It deepens like a coastal shelf. Get out as early as you can, And don't have any kids yourself. Someone I know took a 21st approach on facebook today that made me laugh. I guess I shouldn't have and so I have protected the identity of the individual in question.
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity, stories | Tags: 1977, corruption, david peace, police, police corruption, yoy=rkshire ripper
The fact is he is a really great writer.
I’ve just put down 1977, the second in the Red Riding Quadrilogy which is centred on a fictional backdrop of The Yorkshire Ripper killings in and around 1977 (but to be continued in the next in the series; 1980).
Although The Ripper enquiry is essentially the main plot device it’s really about police corruption which provides the main narrative flow. It’s about guilt. It’s about god. Does he exist? Can he forgive us our tresspasses (if we do not forgive others). Reeking with religious symbolism it is a horrific read with murder, rape and brutality leaping out of almost every page.
But it is mesmeric in its structure and his quite unique use of language.
This is way beyond the ambitions of most crime novels.
This is art.
Filed under: Arts, books, creativity, humour, jokes | Tags: a spot of bother, C, cancer, eczema, mark haddon, the big c, the curious incident of the dog in the night
Well. If you were to look back fastidiously on my blog you’ld see that I’m in a spot of bother this year when it comes to staking my claim as a minor league book reviewer.
The harsh fact is that I have reviewed nowt, SFA, nada – and that’s because, until this weekend, my reading exploits showed not a pot washed.
Sure, I’ve been reading – but completion has been an issue. So it was with relief that I closed the back cover of this fab wee find.
Those of you who know “The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night” will, like me, have no doubt assumed that this major opus would find a difficult second novel in its wake and not have bothered. Like me, you might have picked it up for a pound or two in a charity shop and looked at it wasting away on the shelf. Unread. Unloved. Frankly, destitute.
Well, my dear fellow reader YOU WILL HAVE BEEN AN IDIOT!
This is a hilarious romp.
It’s a satire.
It’s a farce.
It’s never gonna win the Booker. But it is a thing of minor wonderment.
Blacker than a Chilean Coal miner it rips along faster than an aggressive cancer, because that’s what it’s all about. The fear of cancer.
And madness, and familial hell.
It’s got taboo written all over it – but never the word is mentioned.
It’s laugh out loud funny and yet it is terrifically sad.
The basic premise is based on a retired 50-something bloke discovering a previously unseen spot on his hip. He takes it to be cancer and overreacts like Woody Allen on Cocaine. It turns out to be Eczema but that doesn’t matter; the seed has been sown and what follows is an outrageous overreaction that has hilarious knock on effects.
His daughter’s wedding turns to shit; his homosexual son doesn’t know if he’s coming or going; his wife’s affair goes pear shaped.
Please take the time to enjoy this minor masterpiece. You will not regret it. I promise you.
Like this? love Jonathon Coe.
Filed under: Arts, books | Tags: bbc 2, bbc 2 drama, BBC Drama, cite-amerique, gillian anderson, lucinda coxon, mark munden, michel faber, origin pictures, romola garai, sugar, the crimson petal and the white
Michel Faber is a stunning writer and his 2002 novel, The Crimson Petal and The White, of which I have a first edition, is to be revealed to a much wider audience than the book ever reached when it is serialised in the Autumn on BBC2.
It is astoundingly brilliant as a book and will make a perfect BBC drama.
Here is what the BBC website has to say about it.
The Crimson Petal & The White is a four-part adaptation of Michel Faber’s international best-selling novel on BBC Two.
Adapted by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Lucinda Coxon and directed by Marc Munden, this intimate psychological thriller lifts the lid on the darker side of Victorian London revealing a world seething with vitality, sexuality, ambition and emotion.
This provocative and riveting tale tells the story of Sugar (Romola Garai), an alluring, intelligent young prostitute who yearns for a better life away from the brothel she is attached to – run by the contemptible Mrs Castaway (Gillian Anderson).
Highly sought after and sexually adept, Sugar finds her only comfort in the secret novel she is writing in which a murderous prostitute takes revenge on her clients. However, things change for her when she meets wealthy businessman William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd).
Sugar is a thrilling antidote to William’s life, saddled with a pious brother, Henry Rackham (Mark Gatiss), and fragile wife, Agnes Rackham (Amanda Hale). Agnes regularly endures visits from the invasive physician Doctor Curlew (Richard E Grant), leaving her unable to perform her wifely duties.
William ensconces Sugar as his mistress and she soon grows accustomed to her new life. Yet, unbeknownst to William, Sugar begins to hatch a plan which sets a series of events in motion that will change their lives for ever.
The supporting cast also includes Shirley Henderson, Tom Georgeson, Liz White, Blake Ritson and Bertie Carvel.
This riveting account of life in the world of Victorian prostitution is packed with detail and texture. An intelligent tale of love, lust, desire and revenge, it reveals the true sexual politics of Victorian life – in a way never seen before on screen. In the words of the heroine Sugar: “If you dare enter this world, you had better tread carefully.”
Filed under: advertising, books, humour, Scotland, stories | Tags: ads, Cafe Royal, commercials, creativity, Dave trott, making great ads, Robbie Smith, strategy, trotty
I had the not inconsiderable pleasure of spending Thursday evening meeting, introducing and then listening to Dave Trott present at Robbie Smith’s studio in Leith in my role as Head of Client Services at STV. Thereafter we had a beer or three in the Cafe Royal.
Since then I have been inundated with messages of thanks proclaiming him the best speaker people have ever heard.
Because although ostensibly this was a talk to creatives about creativity it was, in actual fact, a potted guide to strategy development (which is, of course, at the heart of all creativity).
In his speech he poo pooed the notion that creativity starts with impact. Because vacuous impact creates no effect other than fueling the egos of lesser art directors. No; creativity starts with persuasion, by identifying what he often referred to as the, usually disregarded these days, USP, then working through communication (ie the content of the message) before gilding the idea with impact.
Created in this order ads of any kind (and any medium – digital or otherwise) have the ability to “go viral”.
It was all done with a deep and committed single mindedness and lightness of touch that was jaw dropping in its simplicity, but eye opening in its possibility.
Dave Trott. You are a genius Just like Cloughie!
And then to top it all off Doug Cook sent me this astounding picture.
Filed under: Arts, books, humour, jokes | Tags: neologism, washington post, wordplay
Thanks to Pat for sending me these hilarious entries in which Washington Post readers are asked to submit alternative meanings for common words…
The winners are:
1. Coffee (n): the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj): appalled over how much weight you have gained.
3. Abdicate (v): to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade (v): to attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly (adj): impotent.
6. Negligent (adj): describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
7. Lymph (v): to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n): olive-oil flavoured mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n): emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash (n): a rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle (n): a humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude (n): the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon (n): a Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster (n): a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism (n) (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n): an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
The Washington Post’s ‘Style Invitational’ also asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition…
Here are this year’s winners:
1. Bozone (n): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
3. Cashtration (n): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (this one got an extra credit!)
9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
10. Decafalon (n): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n): Satan, in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n): The colour you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you’re eating.
And the pick of the literature:
16. Ignoranus (n): A person who’s both stupid and an arsehole.
Filed under: advertising, Arts, books, business, family, football, golf, Hibees, humour, life, music, politics, Rants, Scotland, sports, stories, videos, work, Youtube | Tags: 2010
And so the noughties come to a close…
2009 was a funny old year in many ways.
Work wise I’ve never been busier and gained some fascinating new clients along the way not least STV, Ampersand, Corporation Pop and LA Media. But for some it has been a hell of a struggle and I hope things improve in 2010. My own prospects for 2010 look a bit less silly than 2009. Might even get some golf in. Only played three medals in 2009 but following my FIRST EVER golf lesson in November I went on to finish second. Yes, you heard that right, second in a winter medal and now sit proudly in 5th place overall in the winter league order of merit. Just shows you that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
It was a mare of a year music wise. I’ve already posted my tracks of the year elsewhere but I really struggled to pull together my top ten albums, so much so that I had to go into rereleases to make up the ten. Nevertheless, those that made it are great records in this or any year, there just weren’t many of them.
These are they;
The Phantom Band. Checkmate Savage.
The year started brightly with this oddball Krautrock-influenced Rock and Roll album from what sounds like a bunch of stoners from Glasgow. It’s great. And I notice that this video from the album is directed by Martin Wedderburn (who I’ve worked with on commercials and Bronagh Keegan! Who used to work for me at 1576. Not to mention Ray Allan as a Barman and some Tetrahedron masks.)
Melody Gardot. My One and Only Thrill.
Her first album showed promise, but her second is solid gold jazz and my personal achievement of the year was plucking up the courage to sing My One And Only Thrill from the record at the FAT concert on December 19th.
Doves. Kingdom of Rust.
This year’s Elbow? I suppose so, but this is to underestimate the quality of this beautiful, haunting and melodic rock record with real soul.
EG. Adventure Man.
Why does this man (Eg White – silly name I know) not have a higher profile? He writes many of Britain’s best pop songs (Chasing Pavements, Warwick Avenue, songs for Pink, James Morrison, Take That, Beverley Knight, Kylie Minogue, Will Young etc) . He’s current songwriter of the year and nobody has heard of him. This is only his third album in two decades and it is astounding. Pure wondrous pop. Check him out please.
Bill Callahan. Sometimes I wish we were an eagle.
He was in Smog. He WAS Smog. (So what. Nobody knows Smog either. Ed.) This album came from nowhere from my point of view so thanks to Ian Dommett for introducing it to me. It’s a wee bit like Lambchop from a vocal perspective but the music is way, way different. Trust me on this one.
The XX. The XX.
A quite extraordinary debut. Sounding like a cross between Young Marble Giants and The Cocteau twins, but nothing like either, this was surely the debut of the year. Electrifying and beautiful. Self produced too. Not bad for a bunch of teenagers. Interesting to see what happens next time round. This video has already had 1.7m hits on youtube so clearly they are hitting a few people’s buttons.
Andrew Bird. Noble Beast.
A multi instrumentalist from the states. This is his 5th album and I’d missed them all before. I will be catching up next year.
The Mummers. Tale to tell.
I saw March of The Dawn on Jools and was immediately blown away (that’s also where I discovered the XX). The rest of the album hangs together well but this is the stand out track for sure.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It’s Blitz.
Truth to tell I’ve not played this album that much, but it’s a great slice of arthouse rock and roll. The critics loved it. It only got into my top ten by the skin of its teeth though.
Kraftwerk. Radioactivity, Computer Love and Trans Europe Express.
The re-release of Kraftwerk’s entire back catalogue fully remastered was the music event of the year. This band’s influence never wanes. But it’s clear they had a golden period with the three albums above taking my personal plaudits. All of them pure 5 star and all quite different. I think Radioactivity is my favourite.
Although all of the following met with critical acclaim I’m cool on them; Noah and The Whale, Paulo Nuttini (Although this would probably win the family’s album of the year overall on default – Ria and Jeana loved it and Tom and I were OK with it), Pete Doherty, (back to being a wanker again I see – is that ‘cos nobody bought his so so album) even Graham Coxon’s latest wasn’t that brilliant.
Martha Wainwright’s Edith Piaf record is good but not great, the God Help the Girl album was not good at all (I think Stuart Murdoch is missing the influence of his muse).
Time may show that I have overlooked the Animal Collective’s interesting album but I’m not so sure – a bit like TV on the Radio, the critics love it bus is it actually any good.
My blog has hit 296,000 views in the year which is 40,000 down on 2008 and perhaps reflects fewer posts (only 385 in total). Or maybe it’s just shit now. Still I think it’s a respectable total and thanks for your comments but I’d still like more contributions telling me when I’m being a tosser. Especially you Iain as you regularly tell me offline.
The Hibees came back with a vengeance under the coaching of Yogi Hughes but the defeat to Rangers last week suggests a glass ceiling has been well and truly hit. But there is some hope AGAIN for the cup.
Our clubs in Europe were pitiful and my lowlight in that respect was Falkirk (population 34,000) going out to a team from the mighty Lichtenstein – population 35,000 – that’s the country, not the town the team comes from. Liechtenstein is so small it doesn’t even have a league.
Theatre played a big part in my year. Apart from as an audience member.
I enjoyed Confined Human Condition by Cryptic and The Last Witch during the festival (although it was a bit overrated). My role as a director of The Lyceum developed and I thought the production of Memoirs of a Justified Sinner was the highlight of the year. Truly awesome. But nothing was to match the impact of Ragtime during the festival in which Ria joined the ranks brilliantly and Ya Beauty which was an experience I will never forget. My dad would have had “the tingles” for months.
Amy did brilliantly at school and finally nailed her English which gives her a great bunch of results to pursue her further education later this year. In the meantime she’s doing great working full time at Dakota and having passed her driving test has her own transport (a rather beaten up Fiat Punto but it works, mostly). Sadly Stuart moved away to Port Knockie so we ain’t seen so much of him.
Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap went from 15 to 11. He won two medals and The Greenkeepers Trophy and competed regularly for the team which is an achievement as it’s probably Ratho’s best ever junior team. We went to watch but that ended in tears. A lot of the older guys leave for next year so interesting times. He also got into the Dunfermline Masters for the second year running.
He and Ria both have their Standard Grades this year and both got credits (in Tom’s case on appeal) in their English this year.
That particular subject has caused some grief as it is clear that Tom and Ria take rather different views on the importance of studying. But I’ll not go into that here.
Ria substituted gymnastics for drama and I think she enjoys it much more as she has made a great new bunch of pals at FCT and is in her second show this Easter (Just So based on The Rudyard Kipling stories. Watch this space.). Ria is working like a trooper and had brilliant results in her prelims. And she’s got a fella! He’s not had the Gorman grilling yet. But there is time for that.
Jeana’s work at Suntrap has blossomed (pun intended) and she loves it. She managed two open days this year to great success. Aided and abetted by her blog which you can find here . It has steadily grown and is now pulling in 10,000 views a month. She provided Tom and I with our comedy moment of the year when she slipped in Alvor during the summer holidays and cut her knee. The slip was a true Laurel and Hardy moment as she careered down a cobbled street on her knees. Tom and I wet ourselves but that was THE WRONG THING TO DO, and we were punished accordingly. Needless to say Ria was a tower of strength to Jeana in this moment of humiliation. Tom and I still laugh about it.
We apologise. Sorry Jeana.
However Alvor did give us our funniest collective moment of the year as you will see from this video which we shot in the town square in Alvor. It was the local orchestra playing and this wee bloke at the back had only one job which he executed with lack of enthusiasm but not a great deal of ability as will be revealed. We enjoyed it immensely as you will hear.
I also discovered the old 1576 promo videos that we created many years ago. Not a good idea.
In books only one really stands out in a disappointing year. I just didn’t have time. This is astounding.
But I enjoyed this too…
And my movie of the year? I got to see a lot of great movies this year and the ones that really stood out were; the Hurt Locker, Harry Brown, The White Ribbon, Sherlock Holmes, Looking For Eric and Drag Me to Hell but the best for me was a TV documentary/movie of epic proportions made by the History Channel.
TV show of the year? No Question. True Blood.
Digital gizmo of the year? Again. no question. Spotify. But Facebook make a major ressurgence. So much so that Jeana complained at one point that I was neglecting the blog. Yeah, right enough. Only 380 posts!. Twitter continues to not flick my switch but I persevere.
My man of 2008, was Yogi Hughes.
Idiot of the Year? Kenny Macaskill for doing a Tony Bliar [sic] on us about Magrahi.
Best party was the Yah Beauty wrap, followed closely by the Ragtime wrap.
Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. 20th year running.
Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.
And so to 2010.
Hibees win the Scottish Cup. (You say that every year. Ed.)
Tom gets down to a 7 handicap.
I win something, anything, at Dundas Park
Amy gets into Uni.
I am healthy throughout.
Both Cath and Jean stay healthy too.
Tom and Ria do well in their exams.
The credit crunch doesn’t get worse again.
Filed under: Arts, books, life, movies | Tags: Cormac McCarthy, nick cave, the road
I am a massive fan of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (and while you’re at it “No Country for Old Men” is a beast too).
Anyway the movie of the book opens on Jan 8 here in the UK.
Here’s an early (fairly mean)review from NYC. It currently 8.4′s on IMDB.
Doomsday sagas have never been far from our collective American imagination, but they’ve rarely been closer. The end-of-the-world cult of 2012 (Mayan calendar, solar neutrinos, bad vibes from the planet “Nibiru,” etc.) will only fatten its membership in the wake of the idiotic movie of the same name. Throw in (likely) environmental catastrophe, worldwide economic collapse, peak oil, Al Qaeda with Pakistani nukes, Obama the Antichrist, a zombie-cannibal plague, and apocalypse is in the air, la-la. Now comes the starkest doomsday movie yet, The Road, from a novel by Cormac McCarthy, our priest of high-toned despair. McCarthy will never get over the end of the Age of Good Men (which never existed, but don’t tell him that). He has staked his career on the idea that we’re entering a time of humanity in extremis, one in which chaos is ascendant and cannibalism, literal and metaphorical, is the rule, not the exception. The road of The Road is paved with literal cannibals. But it’s also a metaphor for the blind imperative of a father, “The Man” (Viggo Mortensen), to keep his son, “The Boy” (Kodi Smit-McPhee), both eating and uneaten.
What brought about the blinding flash that ends civilization? McCarthy isn’t telling, and neither are director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Joe Penhall. Project on this disaster what you will. (See the list above.) The dying world through which father and son trudge is monochromatic—faded browns, grays from sooty to milky, an occasional splash of dark blood. Green is history. Bare trees tumble. Fires spring up. Human bones dot the landscape. There was once a mother, “The Woman” (Charlize Theron), whom we see in The Man’s dreams, but her maternal instincts fell (strangely) by the wayside. Only The Man persists. “The child is my warrant,” he narrates. “If he is not the word of God, then God never spoke.” It might have been Darwin who spoke—but let’s not go there.
On its own grueling terms, The Road works. It brings you down, down, down, and its characters’ famishment is contagious: Your heart leaps at the sight of a can of peaches. Mortensen, bearded, smudged, greasy-haired, has a primal, haggard beauty. He lectures his son on the need for “the fire inside,” and that’s what we see in his unblinking eyes as his body wastes away. He clutches a gun with two bullets and teaches The Boy to put the barrel in one’s mouth and pull the trigger—the thinking being that a quick death is better than slow starvation or being eaten. But that’s a last resort. Mostly he uses that gun to threaten and/or blow away anything that imperils his son. What’s odd is that although The Boy never knew the brotherhood-of-man era, he pleads—in a voice that hasn’t broken—to share their food and trembles with grief when his single-minded father remains unswayed by his humanism. Yet the father doesn’t mock his son: Part of him must want to keep The Boy a boy. “Are we the good guys?” his son asks again and again, as if chanting in prayer. “Yes,” says The Man.
The movie has a dogged integrity. An inept thief (Michael Kenneth Williams, the magnetic Omar from The Wire) seems too pathetic for The Man to punish but is cruelly punished anyway. When Robert Duvall totters on as “The Old Man” (a guest-star survivor, akin to the guest-star hillbillies in Cold Mountain), we think they might adopt him as a surrogate Gramps. But The Man sees him only as a drain on their food, and The Old Man gets the drift without being told. What a tough, smart actor Duvall is. The Old Man seems enfeebled, perhaps senile—until Duvall gives you glimmers of his caginess. Affecting frailty is a survival mechanism, too.
Evocative as it is, The Road comes up short, not because it’s bleak but because it’s monotonous, and because McCarthy’s vision is finally as inflexible as his patriarchal hero’s. (Having Mom lurch off is quite an evolutionary statement.) That said, the author-hero of 2012 (John Cusack), who wrote a book in which humans cling to their goodness on the brink of extinction, seems boobishly naïve. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. But unlike these overeager doomsday fanatics, I hope never to find out.
Filed under: Arts, books, family, humour, jokes, life, stories, videos, work | Tags: nick cave, The Death of Bunny Munro
“I don’t believe in an interventionist god” sings Nick Cave as the intro to one of his finest songs.
The sheer outrageousness and majesty of his writing hints at what lies in store for readers of “bunny.”
Actually, the tone of this, his finest moment, with its epic scope is closer in tone to the content of “bunny.”
It’s the story of a fundamentalist lothario. All he lives for is “pussy”. He fantasises about Avril Lavigne and Kylie throughout as he makes his way across the south coast of England.
Meanwhile his wife, aware of this, takes her life as their son pads through rooms scattered in coco pops.
Post funeral Bunny takes to the road with Bunny Junior and seeks solace in yet more psexual activity with increasingly unsavoury outcomes. His son, meanwhile, fantasises about his deceased mother and nurses scabrous and mind-numbingly painful eyes.
He is, in short, a misogynist and cares not.
Or does he?
In fact, this foul and bawdy romp, which makes Irvine Welsh read like Enid Blyton is ultimately a tale of remorse and a thing of great beauty.
I wholly recommend it.
Filed under: Arts, books, humour, jokes, life, stories | Tags: bus driving, explorers of the new century, magnus mills, maintenance of headway, the scheme for full employment
In contrast to the aforementioned D-Day, The Maintenance of Headway could be consumed in an afternoon. It’s the sixth novel (it’s a novella actually) by one of my favourite British writers; the bus driver who is Magnus Mills.
And this book is clearly autobiographical as it is something of an essay on the issues that face bus drivers in an unnamed city sporting an Arch and a Bejewelled Highway that must be Oxford Street. It has certain similarities to his earlier masterpiece (the Scheme for full employment – an allegory based, I think on Napoleon’s grand scheme of the same name). Similar, but totally different, and, I think, less allegorical. It has no real beginning, middle and end. It has no plot to mention but it is a delightful and whimsical take on the little things that drive people’s day-to-day existences in whatever line of employment they find themselves.
Spats, cliques, politics all brew up as the depot’s drivers face up the inspectors in a class ridden micro ecosystem.
The mantra that bus drivers should be ‘driven’ by “the maintenance of headway” challenges individuals on a daily basis. The ultimate goal of every driver is to finish his (or her) shift a few minutes early and keep moving throughout their day. The inspectors are driven barmy by early running buses even though the population at large continue to arrive at bus stops early fully expecting their buses to arrive late.
Mills gentle humour is punctuated by the odd outburst of totally unexpected foul language by one of the more aggressive and anti-establishment drivers which makes for laugh out loud moments.
Magnus Mills is a national treasure. Take this book to your heart. A stunning return to form after his weakest outing to date (Explorers of the New Century). Read it as a companion piece to The Scheme for Full employment then delve into his back catalogue. I promise you much joy.
Filed under: books, politics, stories | Tags: Antony Beevor, Battles of Normandy, D Day, DE gaual, historic novel, History writing, Hitler, Kluge, Montgomery, Patton, stalingrad, war, WWI
It took longer for me to read this than it took the Allies to take Paris. That’s because it is an intense and extremely detailed account of the D-Day landings, the Normandy battles and the march to Paris. It covers the action from four sides; the British under Monty (portrayed as a fool throughout by Beevor – he clearly has a thing against Monty), the Americans under Patton (The top dog in Beevor’s eyes), the Germans under Hitler and Kluge and the French under De Gaul.
Actually, the D Day section is no more than quarter of the book. The vast majority is dedicated to the battles in Normandy, and focusses heavily on the ultimate victory when the allies trapped the Germans in the Falaise Pocket. His description of the feelings of the Allies landing on the beaches of Normandy are so vivid and visceral that it makes you flinch.
If you don’t like extreme detail this book will not be for you, but if you can deal with the unceasing map reading and referencing, and if understand your east from your west and your left flank from your right you may well love this. The language is real and hugely engaging. But the thing that really grips one in reading this account is the huge degree of human suffering, unneccessary death and the sheer scale of retribution, rape, murder and looting that went on on all sides.
The French play a big part in this book as both heroes (it would not have happened without The French Resistance) and villians (there was an incredible amount of both forced and willing prostitution going on all over France).
For me the single most engrossing aspect of the whole thing is Beevor’s description of The Bocage. Thousands of tiny Normandy fields with huge hedgerow surrounding them that had to be taken on a field by field basis with German booby traps and dug in Panzers everywhere. To say progress was slow and dangerous would be the understatement of the century.
Beevor’s skill is to turn the delivery of historic fact into a form of prose that grips one from start to finish. He truly is a unique talent. Stalingrad is equally compelling and I would not hesitate to recommend either of them.
Filed under: books
Which is quite impressive as it’s not published until 3rd August.
I love, and I mean loooove Magnus Mills.
Filed under: Arts, books | Tags: anthony Beevor, D Day, E L Doctorrow, Peter Carey, Ragtime, Sarah Waters, stalingrad, The invasion of Normandy, The Little Stranger, True history of the kelly Gag
It was not a particularly heavy reading holiday this year and a bit unsatisfying to be honest.
I’m mid way through D Day by Antony Beevor which is his usual magisterial trip through time in inimitable detail. But it’s not a holiday book. I’ll review it later when I finally finish it. (Two months so far.)
I read most of True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey which is really well written but, you know what, it just kind of goes on and on. Not recommended (even if it did win the Booker).
The best read by far was Ragtime by E L Doctorow which is short but very, very sweet. In lots of ways it reminded me of The Great Gatsby. I don’t know why because it’s set in the first two decades of the 20th century not the fourth. I guess it was its obsession with class. In this case contextualised against racial angst rather than money. Lovely book. Highly recommended and Ria is doing the stage show of it during the festival which will be a must see.
Lastly I started but didn’t complete The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, another class-driven story that is extraordinarily reminiscent of “the Others”. I’m not finished it but am not particularly taken by its rather mannered style.
So, there you go.
Filed under: books, life, Scotland, stories, Uncategorized | Tags: biography, books, bridge history, bridges, forth rail bridge, Forth Rail bridge history, life, Railtrack, Scotland, south queensferry
I went along to the book launch of this, this morning at the Hawes Inn. It’s written by Elspeth Wills, founder of Scotinform and my old boss.
It looks like a very interesting read and sheds a whole new light on the building of the bridge.
Note. Whilst this is an excellently written post, Jeana (who wrote it) seems to forget that “I’ means Mark Gorman, not ‘she’ as in Jeana Gorman. It’s a borderline case of unacceptable blog hijacking but you would think that ‘she’ would want her own blog (which she has, as it happens. Here in fact.)
Anyway, good luck to Elspeth (a good pal of mine) on her latest book.
Filed under: Arts, books, life, movies, music, politics, Rants | Tags: away days, British movies, casuals, football, football casuals, football hooligans, football violence, kevin sampson, low budget movies, Powder, tranmere rovers, violence
Finding myself in Glasgow on Friday afternoon with a couple of hours to kill I opted for a trip to the cinema to the see the Kevin Sampson penned movie, Awaydays.
I loved his first novel, Powder, which charts the rise and fall of a rock band and expected more than the utter crap that I saw.
Oh dear reader I warn you away from this badly realised and terribly over-ambitious rubbish.
It follows the story of a teenage rebel who joins the Inter City firm (Tranmere Rovers’ I understand) as he gets an increasing taste for violence in the wake of his mothers’ death.
It mixes schmaltz (the relationship with his sister), psychology (a cod homosexual unfulfilled relationship with his ‘best’ pal), sex (clumsily realised at every turn – he’s a bit of a lad – much to his gay chum’s distress) and extreme gang violence (which is so bad that I had to stifle laughter every time there was a ‘big’ gang fight).
The real trouble with this movie is that it’s a multi million pound idea executed on a few hundred grand. Consequently everything looks cheap. The fight scenes in particular, which demand to be the movie’s centrepiece, are utterly embarrasing. The cast is way too small (but try hard) and camera angles have to be really tight to make it not look like a playground knockabout.
Sadly, the ploy fails.
It’s a shame because the central character’s role is well played. In fact most opf the acting is pretty good.
On the plus side, the music track is fab (but there’s another excrutiating moment when we see a ‘fake’ Echo and tHe Bunnymen playing in a Liverpool club.)
This is bad. Sorry.
I must confess I am becoming increasingly irritated by the poor quality of the written word these days. Now, I’m not setting myself up as some modern day Leo Tolstoy but Bart Simpson’s lines at the start of the programme each week are better constructed than almost anything I see emanating from the pen of most people under 30 years old. Put it this way, it’s as if English teachers have thrown in the towel. Good syntax is as prevalent as an effective pass at Easter Road.
William Burroughs would be having a field day. His cut up technique (also known as non-linear narrative – how appropriate) now looks like one of the most visionary movements in world history. Only he didn’t know it. And if you are unfamiliar with his challenging (and frankly pish) work. Here’s a wee Wiki definition…
Cut-up is performed by taking a finished and fully linear text (printed on paper) and cutting it in pieces with a few or single words on each piece. The resulting pieces are then rearranged into a new text. The rearranging of work often results in surprisingly innovative new phrases. A common way is to cut a sheet in four rectangular sections, rearranging them and then typing down the mingled prose while compensating for the haphazard word breaks by improvising and innovating along the way.
I’d have thought blogging might have brought youngsters back into the literary fold, the thought of publishing their prose publicly maybe incentivising a bit of attention to detail. And maybe it does but then, we’re not all bloggers.
I despair. I really do. In my short sentence, short paras and starting sentences with conjunctions ways.
Filed under: Arts, books, life, stories | Tags: a long way down, british writers, fiction, group suicide, nick hornby, novels, pathos, redemption, suicide, writing
I missed the ‘release’ of this, mainly because I thought Hornby’s early promise had run out of steam. ( I loved Fever Pitch and liked Hi Fidelity.) He seemed to be becoming a bit ‘four weddings and a funeral’ for my liking and the snob in me saw him selling out.
His “about a boy’ book was kind of pish really.
But I picked this up in a charity shop and it sat in the pile for a while before I decided to read it.
It’s overrated, I have to say that to start with. It will win no literary prizes , but the critics seem to hold Hornby in some sort of thrall.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that actually if you ignore the startlingly unbelievable critical tosh it’s rather good on a simple storytelling level.
It has no great insights on life (or death) but it is a good read and Hornby creates four distinct characters; two of which work very well (the comedic ones ) Jess and Martin; one who nearly gets there but is underdeveloped (Maureen); and one that’s just a bit crap (JJ).
And yet, still, it works. I liked it on the whole. Quite a lot actually.
Maybe I liked it because it’s just a good story with an unpredictable ending, well told, and actually a very good mix of humour and pathos.
Oh, it’s about four people and their take on suicide, and how they collectively fight it, in case you didn’t know.
Filed under: books, family, life, Scotland, stories | Tags: Carlisle Utd, Celtic, England manager, Glenn Hoddle, John Gorman, Northampton Town, spurs, Tampa bay Rowdies, Tottenham, Wycholm Wanderers
John Gorman is my late Father’s cousin and has a reputation in football that is considerable.
As I child I was besotted with the rubbed off fame that he bestowed upon me in the playground. My most vivid memories are of him as captain of Carlisle United. Top of what is now the premiership.
Football is a fickle mistress though.
Carlisle’s early season winnng streak soon ran out and with that so did John, to Spurs, and injury.
After that Tampa Bay.
Most pros gradually fade away, but not John. Through his association with Glenn Hoddle he rose increasingly to managerial prominence, culminating in his Assistant managership of England, as a Jock.
So, I was looking forward to this reading with enthusiasm. There is however, a dreadful back story that permeates the book, the early death, through cancer, of his beloved wife Myra. This element of the book is truly tragic and it is really quite poignant.
Despite this the book is not something I could recommend to the casual reader I’m sorry to say. It’s ghost written by journalist Kevin Brennan. Sadly Kevin Brennan is to literature what Michael Winner is to film making. It’s not good.
It’s illuminating though and demonstrates ably how thin the line is between success and failure. John goes through a job or two per chapter and there are 17 of them, so it demonstrates how grim a reality football management is, especially in the lower leagues.
One for the family and the collectors only I have to say.
Filed under: Arts, books, politics, Rants, stories | Tags: david peace, gb 84, Scargill, Thatcher, the miners strike
You will now presumably be aware of David Peace’s rapidly growing repuation (The Damned Utd, The Red Riding Trilogy).
I am pleased (smug? Ed.) to say I’ve been ahead of the curve on all this as previous posts will testify and one of his books that hasn’t hit the big screen is the subject of my latest bibliographic indulgence.
GB 84 is an epic piece of writing. Coming in at well over 400 pages it does not set out to make life easy for the reader and it succeeds in holding that to the end.
In parts it’s quite staggeringly brilliant but mostly it’s rather turgid and verging on the contrived. David Peace is a very clever writer, the trouble is that in this book he seems to want to prove the point and actually ends up just annoying the fuck out of you.
It’s a true life act of fiction set around the 1984 miner’s strike with a cast of real life characters, Scargill – The President – and Thatcher chief of all, but is surrounded by characters that are clearly based on real life people, ‘The Jew’ for instance, is an odious spin doctor.
As an elegy to the strike, the great strike one has to say, it is quite breathtaking. It is so detailed, so harrowing that at times you have to look away – the scenes of violence involving police versus flying picket, with the dice so clearly laden in the former’s favour, take your breath away at times But it just goes on and on and. Like the strike itself I guess.
And it has more sub plots than a year’s worth of Coronation Street and in the end that’s all too much. Corruption is the key subplot, but you’ve got loyalty (scabbing), deception (infidelity), espionage, murder, brutality and love (sort of) too to deal with.
Frankly it’s all a bit of a mess, and a long winded one at that.
Could I recommend it?
Is it well written?
Well, technically, yes.
Am I glad it’s over?
Has it put me off David Peace?
Filed under: Arts, books, football, life, stories | Tags: 1974, andrew garfield, channel 4, crime, david peace, derby county, leeds utd, murder, nottingham forrest, red riding, the damned utd, tv movies
I love David Peace.
There. I’ve said it.
He is, in my experience, the best writer in Britain, out of a very good lot.
I enjoyed 1974 to the point of gushingness. And when Jeana said she wanted “A right good, proper crime book to read that wasn’t a load of old shite.” recently I recommended it.
She loved it – perhaps even more than I did.
And now it’s a Channel 4 TV movie.
Me? I thought it was exceptional, although it strayed from the book’s plot quite considerably. Most fundamentally in that it made Dunford’s character mainly sympathetic when, in the book, he’s just a twat. It’s a classic example of a (near) brilliant adaptation of a brilliant book that falls short of the book but finds enough quality to make it brilliant nevertheless.
The acting, cinematography (let’s face it, it WAS a movie) and soundtrack (beautifully understated and not period at all) were all A list. Some of it actually took your breath away. It has BAFTA written all over it. But, and it’s only a but, to us readers, it fell away really badly, plot-wise, compared to the book in the final act. In fact, Jeana dismissed it, and I agree with her because it turned a grizzly, uncompromising book into a cop-out conclusion. I was disappointed in that, but it wasn’t enough to spoil the overall effect.
By the bloody way, they were heavy bloody smokers in Yorkshire in the 70′s or what? Fook me. It made “the man who wasn’t there” look restrained. In fact, I’m away to wash my clothes.
As an aside I do want to bring your attention to Peace’s masterpiece, if I haven’t already. The Damned Utd starring Martin Sheen is soon to hit our screens.
In my opinion it’s likely to be a classic example of a movie that won’t be as good as the book because it can’t be.
We’ll see though.
Fook me though. I hope I’m wrong likers.