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Showing posts from February, 2009

Reading...

Today I went out and finally bought E.P. Thompson's classic social history text, The Making of the English Working Class. The Times front cover quote described Thompson as 'A magnificent, lucid, angry historian...' Magnificent is the da-da! Lucidity is essential when writing almost anything that will be worth reading. Historian is simply a matter of fact. But anger is the ticket when it comes to social history. And social present, actually. I should have read it ages ago, and almost feel as though I have because of the many millions of times when Thompson and his work - as well as his wife's Dorothy, a Chartist historian, has clearly formed the basis of another work or in referring to a quote from it. Maybe I was finally moved to buy it (not cheap at £24 for the paperback!) because earlier on in the day I bought, for the first time in ages, a copy of Socialist Worker from a fit man in Kings Cross. I can only imagine that the editor of Socialist Worker is rubbing his …

A date for your diary - 12th March

Thursday 12th March (6pm - 7.30pm) myself and a few other authors from the Beautiful Books stable will be giving readings at an 'evening of literary splendour' at the fifteenth anniversary of The London Capital Club, 15 Abchurch Lane London, EC4N (Tel 0207 717 0088). If you want further info email me. Here's the blurb and info on the other authors:

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Beautiful Books (www.beautiful-books.co.uk), the hottest new publishing firm in town, will be hosting the evening. Come and find out just what it takes to be a published writer. Meet and listen to:

James Woudhuysen, author of the hugely provocative and timely new study on the future of world energy, Energise!. Should the consumer bear the brunt of the demands of climate change, or should government and business work together to deliver an achievable aim: energy for all?

Belinda Webb, author of A Clockwork Apple, the brilliant feminist re-interpretation of Burgess's iconic novel. Belinda's novel featured as a question o…

Atheists

Yes, being of the atheist persuasion myself I'm glad to note that students are to get their own atheist society, as reported in today's Guardian, to rival the self-righteous mish-mash of religious societies on campuses up and down the country.

Valentine's Day dittie

A couple of weeks ago, thinking about a past relationship, I penned this little verse and thought I'd post it as reminder to self on this, the day of coupledom...

MY ARMS

Just for you,
Without a frown
I keep them down,
My arms.

Just for you,
With a run of sun
and a gleam of cream,
My arms.

Just for you,
When you say goodbye
and prepare to lie,
My arms.

Just for you,
the Victory sign
in perfect line,
My arms.

Just for me,
I see
It's always Fuck.
And. Off.
And I wrap them around me,
My arms.

Alone in Berlin

I don't often read the books pages of The Scotsman but if I hadn't I wouldn't have come across this book, Alone in Berlin, by Hans Fallada, which will now need to be bought. What is most intriguing is the fact that it focusses on the lives of the working-class in Berlin during the war, too often have we read of that dreadful period from the bougeoisie perspective, and the main characters' small acts of independent action, knowing only too well what the Nazis are up to. Today I bought Women in England 1760-1914 A Social History, by Susie Steinbach.

A Perfect Waiter...

I must have read this book, A Perfect Waiter, more than a year ago. I bought it in hardback, but it's now in paperback and The Guardian critic has called it a 'small masterpiece' and 'elegant'. It is both. However, one thing that I've been meaning to post on lately is the fact that both hardbacks and paperbacks are too often reviewed as separate books by the same publication, thus giving them two shots at publicity, and leaving many more books struggling to even get one review! And those that are reviewed both in hardback and paperback are also too often by the same 'group' of writers. I think reviews by each literary section should decide which they will review - hardback or paperback - but not both.

Paxman and Why Reading Matters

Firstly, having got well and truly soaked in last night's torrential rain after finding myself walking up to Highgate via Parliament Hill Fields, I returned home to see several messages alerting me to the fact that University Challenge had formed a question from A Clockwork Apple. I thought of my Dad, a big Jeremy Paxman fan, who would probably only have realised I'd written a book had it come from the mouth of the Newsnight presenter himself. I watched it back courtesy of BBC iPlayer and yes, it is surreal hearing Paxo say 'Belinda Webb'. What is it about hearing your own name? Whoever set the question also realised that the surname of main character Alex, Fawley, had been taken from one of my favourite novels, Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure as this formed the question that followed.

If you didn't manage to watch it last night, BBC4 (10pm) also showed 'Why Reading Matters', focussing on that visceral heart-wrenching novel, Wuthering Heights. The psyc…

Reading...

Left the British Library early today and off the short distance down the road to Judd Books where I picked up 'A Radical Reader - The Struggle for Change in England 1381 - 1914' ed. Christopher Hampton, 'The Economic History of England 1760-1860' by Arthur Redford and 'Victorian Years (1841-1895) Halevy's History of the English People in the Nineteenth Century Vol. 4'. You see, still firmly in the nineteenth century yet learning more about current times as a result, especially after reading a paper by J.R.T. Hughes entitled 'The Commercial Crisis of 1857' which, if the dates were changed, could quite easily be reproduced in this month's Prospect as a contemporary analysis!

I was also very much taken this week by a piece written by psychotherapist writer Adam Phillips in this week's London Review of Books - In Praise of Difficult Children. I have, I think, a couple of Phillips' books somewhere but have so far not gotten round to, but I…

Snow, glorious snow...

OK, so it's snowed. Finally. Properly. Not some flimsy little layer that is wiped away the minute the shoes of humans come into contact with it, but a thick healthy blanket of the stuff - in London too! So I get dressed, put on my hat, and begin the half-hour walk down to the British Library. Some people notice that come the warm weather birds are singing, young girls are flicking their long super-flowing hair this way and that, young men are wanting to show said girls their back-flips in the park. Older people, or those with an older head, make regular comments along the lines of 'it's good for the bones...(vitamin D) if only Britain could have more sun...' and etcetera. I was thinking along those lines on my walk down Chalk Farm Road and into Camden - everyone seemed to be smiling at the still-falling snow, more than a few were rolling snowballs and lobbing them through the air, there were no buses in sight and only a trickle of cars moving at the pace of a cautious …

The Strangest Man...

I'm posting this not only to draw attention to it, but also as a reminder to myself that I must get it - probably after Amazon has delivered The Outlander and I've got round to reading it! Paul Dirac was a British physicist, almost totally forgotten, yet Graham Farmelo has brought him to life in this biography, the title of which gives a larger than life clue to the madness/genius character type 'The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac'. Observer review here.