A ruddy good read. Filthy English; The how why and what of everyday swearing by Peter Silverton. Review.


I was gifted this book for my Christmas a few years ago and it has been my water closet reading of choice ever since. 1,000 or so days of snatched consumption later and I’m ready to share with you how colossal an achievement the writing of this essential book is for anyone who has any curiosity at all in the use and etymology of language.

Even (especially) foul language.

1,000 or so days of it enduring twice, thrice daily dramatic changes in the humidity of its environment, thanks to our ferociously hot shower, has rendered it a somewhat punch drunk shadow of its former self; limp, wrinkled and long parted from its spine; it has a heroic feel about it.

I think that is appropriate.

Why so good? A book about swearing?

Well, for a start, and before you think I’m just courting controversy, this is not a book that “gies you your cheapies” as we used to say as youngsters (cheapies being cheap thrills). Not very much of it is funny, none of it is gratuitous even though the word cunt (and I will not resort to **** as that would be to entirely undermine its authority) is used perhaps 300 times, maybe more. ‘Fuck’ probably chalks up triple that word count and of course we have many, many more gloriously lewd and blushingly frank curses.

Frankly, it’s a fuckfest.

Not only that, but we learn how to swear in every language from Romanian to Mongolian and pretty much everywhere in between.

What’s the point you may very well ask?

Well, in turns it’s a history lesson, an etymological travelogue like none other I’ve experienced, a science (biological) primer and a visceral insight into cultural expression.

That might still leave you asking yourself so what? But it’s also a darned well-written and authoritative tome and endlessly fascinating and revealing.

Everyone should know their arse from their asswipe and this is the place to discover it.

You’ll fucking love it.

The Salt of the Earth : documentary review.


You may not consider a two hour documentary, that is in large part a slideshow of Brazilian Social photographer Sebastião Salgado’s portfolio, featuring many, many dead and mutilated bodies, a significant proportion of them children and babies would be the recipe for entertainment but, trust me, it is.

This movie, co-directed and produced by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, should be essential viewing for anyone with any interest in humanity, humanitarian aid and politics because the vast bulk of it covers Salgado’s career as a  social photographer who specialised in capturing images of large populations of the displaced and downtrodden or victims of natural disaster and war.  This takes in Eritrea, Rwanda, Kosovo, the Oil fires of Kuwait, left in Saddam’s wake, and the biblical and truly epic nature of his most famous work; the gold mines of Brazil where up to 50,000 men gold prospected in deep pits of mud.

Wender narrates and Salgado Jr and Hugo Barbier share cinematography duties.  That’s no small undertaking as they are filming a master at work and in the flesh, but somehow their cameras are every bit as inspiring as Salgado Sr’s.

As the film develops we see where this fame has taken Salgado, back to his native Brazil where he has established  a conservation project of such dramatic scale that it has been transformed into a natural park.  It’s a remarkable achievement.

Salgado’s photography places him in the most esteemed company in photographic history (with Ansell Adams he ranks as my personal favourite – coincidentally both photograph strictly in monochrome).  What makes this tribute so moving is Salgado’s personal reminiscences of how he witnessed children die and wars that are so utterly pointless.

At one point we see an image of a man placing his dead baby onto a vast pile of dead bodies – of Holocaust proportions.  Salgado says, and I paraphrase, “He turned away almost chatting to his friend so inured was he to the horror in which he was living.”

Towards the end it all gets too much for him, he very nearly breaks down.  The audience is with him the way.

This is a must see film.  Really must see on so many levels.  A straight 10/10.

My dad. Apropos of nothing.

dad monkey

I was looking back at my blog today.  It’s been going nearly 10 years now, and I was re-reading the eulogy I wrote for him and this comment made me laugh out loud.

Thank you David Reid for this gem…

“And, while we are on the subject of fashion, I would like to thank David Reid for posing the question “Who else would dress up on a day to day basis like a weird and wonderful combination of Peter Blake, Dr john and a French Onion seller?”

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell: Review.


Take The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet out of David Mitchell’s six strong canon of work and you are left with sublime mastery.

The Bone Clocks may well be his masterpiece.  It’s a sort of reworked Cloud Atlas but with even greater ambition, wider scope and a novella within (six actually) that combines fantasy and science fiction in a way that few others, not even the late Iain (M) Banks, with his ability to switch genres, could achieve.

These six inter-connected novellas tell the life story of Holly Sykes from our introduction to her a sixteen year old in the badlands of 1984 Kent, to her old age (set in 2043 in a dystopian climate change driven western coast of Ireland in a walled off community that is about to implode).  The final ‘book’ shares a strong sense of mood with McCarthy’s masterpiece, The Road.

The journey takes in a cast of characters’ tales that range from hilarious to minds boggling; we meet a bunch of London city type toffs lording it up in a Swiss ski resort, one of whom becomes a vicious and callous critic in the next book and suffers the consequences by becoming an author and facing a lifetime of failed follow ups to his seminal debut.

Another brilliantly captures the horrors of war following the life of Sykes’, devoted to his work- not his wife, husband as a war correspondent during the Iraq war.

But the central ‘book’ in all this and the one that glues the other five together is the sprawling sci-fi/fantasy book #5 that follows the war between two tribes; The Horologists and the Anchorites in which they live parallel existences across time (one is over 2,500 years old) and use different methodologies to reproduce; one essentially ‘good’, one ‘bad’.

It’s a breathtaking story that rewards the graft of understanding their jargon, but that’s sci-fi for you.

The finale is wonderful as the loose ends tie up we get a real insight to Mitchell’s big themes around sustainability, good versus evil, religion and the  driving secular forces of humanity.  You might not buy this but you’ve got to admire its exposition.

It all adds up to a reading experience that few, if any, could replicate.  One can see why it didn’t make the Booker shortlist but that doesn’t mean a jot.

This is writing of the very highest order with not a hint of literary pretension, in keeping, I feel, with the man himself.

Bravo, David Mitchell.  And thank you for this.

Brilliant insight into business…

I had an amazing meeting with a client today wherein she suggested that some workplace problems/issues are like the one in this short film, and that, just like in relationships, instead of trying to jump into a solution simply letting the other party express the problem AS THEY SEE IT can actually go some way to resolving it.

And, of course, listening.

Jurassic World: Thomas Hardy Reimagined for the 23rd century.


Let’s face it, this is basically just Far From the Madding Crowd with dinosaurs instead of sheep.

Think about it.  A strong-willed female lead (Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire) heads of to farm in a far off land (a Costa Rican Island Colony) where she initially spurns her first love (the modern shepherd; Chris Pratt as Owen).

Then it all goes totally Pete Tong when the sheep (sorry dinosaurs) get a taste for forbidden fruit (hay rigs and barns may not go on fire but everything else does) before spurned lover Owen comes back to save the day.  They appear to be about to live happily ever after but their love is not consummated on screen. That Ladies and gentlemen is the story of Far From the Madding Crowd; and of Jurassic World.

But it’s so much more than this of course.

A hilarious romp with many in jokes and nods to the original (Jurassic Park),  a brilliant script from Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (and it really is a good script with lots of laugh out loud moments), more than passable central performances and a shed load of brilliant effects with a bunch of real good suspense thrown in.

Frankly, it’s great.