Pego’s millions


Oh dear sweet Jesus we've still got 22,000 hits to endure...

You might notice that as the millionth hit approaches (as it surely will) I’ve moved my blog stats up to a more convenient position for the viewing public.

In fact, if you look left right now, you’ll be able to see exactly what the state of the nation is as you read.

In real time.

Things have slowed a touch though I must admit.

Maybe I’ve not been trying hard enough, but I have to say the £850 you’ve invested so far makes me very happy (and I’m sure the people at the hospice are cheezin’ too).  Well, some of them.

I have to say, we cheezed a lot when we were there as a family. Because death sometimes brings out the funniest things.

So, I’d like to recount a blog post from right at the start of Gibberish.  It was a conversation I overheard between my Dad’s brother (Uncle Christopher) and my Mum.

And it went something like this…

“If I had some eggs, we could have ham and eggs; if I had some ham.” my Uncle Christopher declared this afternoon.

Wise words.

But my mother violently disagreed with this because she retorted…

“If we had some eggs we could have eggs and ham; if we had some ham.”

Not sure about that.

In fact it’s total bollocks – because what she really meant to say, and did, was…

“If we had ham, we could have ham and eggs; if we had eggs.”

You know what…

…I don’t give a monkey’s uncle!

This was my favourite memory of the seven or so very intense days we spent at St Columba’s.

I’m sure everyone is the same, in that in the face of death they find some moments of humour.

Well, I hope so.

If you’ve lost someone to cancer or had a truly life affirming (even in the face of death) experience at this or any other hospice maybe you’ll pledge a tenner.

Who knows, you might even win a £100. 

Here’s where you enter.

The Red Riding Quadrilogy by David Peace


AKA The Red Riding Quadrilogy

It’s a long time since I wrote about books here and that’s because I’ve been a long time reading this remarkable bunch of books.

Collectively they amount to around 1,200 paperback pages and each of the four novels has an overlapping but always quite different pool of characters.

Over the piece there are probably in excess of 100 significant characters that one needs to come to terms with in following the plot.

It’s challenging.

Then there’s David Peace’s style.

These are crime novels and one would expect them to crack along at a pace and that the only really issue for the reader would be to unravel the clues and spot the killer.

Not here.

David Peace is one of Granta’s most highly regarded writers, regardless of genre, and that’s because he writes with style and elan.  Part of the pleasure of this massive book (Let’s call it one book for convenience sake)  is working his writing out.

Each book is individually structured.

Each structure is a clue in itself.

Each chapter in each book has a different (anti) hero.

And then there’s the subject.

The lighter side deals with the Yorkshire Ripper murders, the heavier with child murders.

The real issue though is the polis.

Jeez.

The British Police PR department presumably do not have any of these novels on their reading lists. Because the police come across as double crossing, conceited, evil scum.  And yet many of the main protagonosts are the polis.

That’s why his writing is nothing short of challenging.  Visceral, gut wrenching, brutal, shocking, calous, taboo-less.

Unputdownable.

There.  That’s seven uncompromising (that’s eight now. Ed) words to describe his way.

Sympathy is not a word that readily springs to mind in David Peace’s world.  Did you sympathise with Cloughie in his big seller, The Damned United?

No, this a world of damnation, wolfs, swans, angels, demons, rats, dragons…underground terror.

It’s a book about the underworld.  Full stop.

It’s a book of genius.

I can’t even confess to have fully got the plot (maybe I’ve actually lost it having invested six months of my reading life into Peace’s mind)  never mind the meaning but it has been a six month reading exercise that has enthralled, terrified and utterly engaged me from start to finish.

This book (in its totality) is an epic and quite remarkable literary achievement.

Few reading experiences have or will (since reading Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as a 17 year old) affect me quite so powerfully.

Now for something lighter.

Phil Adams recommended the Death Machine to me.  I’m started on it.