Highlight of Glastonbury 2008?

OK, so this is a video, not their live performance at Glasto.  But the song and performance was my favourite moment of the weekend. It’s lovely, isn’t it.

Funnily enough.  Amy and I saw them at Meadowbank a couple of years ago supporting Snow Patrol.

We christened them Elbore.

Just shows, you have to keep an open mind to everything.


spain win euro 2008 in spite of being perennial underachievers. Will they lose that tag forever?

So, the perennial underachievers who perennially underachieve didn’t perennially underachieve in a competition that perennial underachievers rarely achieve in. But as perennial underachievers against the strongest of final perennal achievers they achieved a great deal for perennial underachievers. In fact they achieved the ultimate achievement for underachievers; they achieved.

What are our perennially underachieving commentators gonna say about the perennial underachievers at the next tournament when as ex-perennial underachievers they can no longer be described as perennial underachievers?

If they win it, they might become perennial achievers but, of course, if they fail they will, once again, regain the perennial underachievers tag; principally because they’ll have entered the tournament as the most likely to achieve and have then underachieved.

It was a great game, a great tournament and, throughout, the perennial underachievers deserved to achieve.

Thank the lord that they did.

If, for no other reason than my sanity.

Glastonbury 2008

I called the kids into the living room to watch Amy Winehouse’s performance. Not as a matter to laugh about but to see what the horrors of drugs does to people.

Her presence at Glastonbury may have been in the face of medical advice given that she ‘allegedly’ is suffering from Emphysema but it was apparent to all that the drugs have taken hold.

It was very sad.

Not only did she fidget uncontrollably with her clothing throughout but she also appeared to punch somebody in the audience having been physically helped from the stage to get nearer her ‘fans’,

A third album will be a miracle. I have to say I very much doubt we will ever encounter it.

Jay Zee was an interesting choice as Saturday night headliner and, for me, only really worked in parts.

My favourite moment (apart from Hot Chip dueting with Wiley) was Ethiopiques on the World Stage.

My mate Jon Stevenson is there. At least he won’t get foot rot this year.

Oh, and the 30 seconds of Massive attack that I saw looked good.

22 dreams by Paul Weller

I have an ambivalent attitude to Paul Weller.

I don’t know why, because you could fill several CD’s with his highly enjoyable ‘best of’… However, I think he blows a bit hot and cold for me; maybe it’s just because he’s had such a phenomenal output in volume terms (even this album has a collosal 21 tracks).

Wildwood was classy.

I liked some, but not much, of Style Council, I liked some, but not all, of The Jam.

So, this stunning album, (I was prompted to buy it on the back of seeing him live on TV a couple of times, but more significantly by the outstanding single, ‘Have you made up your mind.“) has really taken me by surprise.

It’s massively varied, although it has a strong rock backbone to it.

It’s not a life-changing record but it is a very, very good one by a man who has had more iterations than a highly iterative thing.  Like a website for example.

Try it.  You might like it.

Here’s the stunning single I referred to.


The Road by Cormac Mccarthy

Where does one begin in reviewing a novel of this importance?

Well, first let’s reflect on its critical merit.  It won the Pulitzer Prize last year.  I have a great affection for both this and the Booker Prize as I believe they award great, and readable, books.  I had a trawl through the Pulitzer archives to see what it came up with.  Have a look yourself.  You might be surprised as to what has and hasn’t won.

For me I’d read the following winners;

The Road 2007

Middlesex 2003

The Shipping News 1994

A thousand Acres of Sky 1992

To Kill a Mockingbird 1961

The Grapes of Wrath 1940

(Jeana had also read The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields that won in 1995.)

With the exception of A Thousand Acres of Sky I would put every one down as a stonewall classic.  (For the record I think Jane Smiley’s Horse Heaven is a far more interesting read than 1,000 Acres.)

Anyway, returning to The Road in particular, Tom Gatti of The Times says on the jacket “It will knock the breath from your lungs.” and I cannot disagree.

This post-apocalyptic novel is fearsome, chilling and very scary indeed.  Honestly, it’s like watching a superior horror film, so visceral, taught and fast flowing is his writing.  My other favourite post-apocalyptic book is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood which is also very frightening, but has a less foreboding sense of inevitability about it.

As is his wont McCarthy brings God in a fair amount.  Fair enough when you’re one of the few remaining souls on earth.  But he does so with a lightness of touch that is utterly in keeping with the narrative.

In the hands of the right director and cinematographer – ah, Mr and Mr Coen, do step forward please – this would make a multi-Oscar winning movie because his plotting and imagery is so breathtaking.  Like No Country for Old Men he paints a visual tableaux throughout the book that is screenplay-like.  But the depth and quality of his language is what raises him above most living writers.

Compare him to one of my favourite oft-filmed writers, Ian McEwan, and you can see why McEwan is accused of writing for show (many accused him of this in On Chesil Beach).  McCarthy never does this.  Everything is stripped down and considered.  Every last word.

He has a habit of concluding conversations between the son and father when big decisions are being mnade between them with two words.

Okay?  Okay!

Of course, without the punctuation.

I thought this simple device said much more than you could ever imagine the repetition of two duplicated unpunctuated words ever could.

The device demonstrates trust – deep, deep trust – love, commitment, understanding, conviction, resolve  and determination.

How does he do that by simply writing…



Because he is a genius.  That is how.

The relationship between the main protagonists, the father and son, is heartbreakingly close, loving, tender and harrowing.  On more than one occassion I was close to tears.  Their fear is palpable as the events unfold.

No preaching.  No heavy handed political metaphor. Although many believe that this is one of the most important environmental statements ever made and I am inclined to agree with that because it so clearly demonstrates what life without a functioning planetary ecosystem might be like.  I tell you what, you wouldn’t like it.

It’s just a wonderful story about the human condition.  Draw from it your own conclusions.

I really cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Far and away my book of this or almost any year.

There is no question that this is required reading for the human race.

PS.  Just in case you think I’m being overly enthusiastic I’ll put in a word of warning.  A friend of mine said it was “a bit boring.”  I quite honestly can’t comprehend why he thought that, but he did so hey, I’ve warned you.

But, if you buy this book on the back of my review and you find it a bit boring, I’ll pay for it for you.

PPS Since writing the above I note that a film adaptation of the novel is currently in production. It is directed by John Hillcoat and written by Joe Penhall. The film stars Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the Man and the Boy, respectively. Production has taken place in Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Oregon.

Who’s the big guy?

Originally uploaded by digitalagency’s.

Ha! This is a shot of me at last night’s SMA meeting. I am the Chairman of The SMA as you might know, and it was a brilliant debate about digital marketing featuring Mike Coulter, John Campbell, Eliza Dashwood, Stewart Kirkpatrick and Scott Howard.

I just sat intently with my arms folded. As you can see.

Check out the sunburned fizog.  I’d just played golf at Archerfield that afternoon.