Monday 31 August 2009

Good as new — in fact, better

I see from Amazon that a good second-hand copy of the well-received work of popular nostalgic geography Whatever Happened to Tanganyika? is now a valuable “collectible” worth two and a half times the new price — and it’s not even out of print yet. Now that’s class.

Monday 24 August 2009

Illuminated phosphor

“…morose expressions laminated by a thin sheen of grime and sweat; hangdog mugs smeared with London…”

Charlie Brooker is, lest any doubt remain, The Man

¹ Just to clarify, I don’t mean in the sense of the personification of an overbearing globalised corporate plutocracy, as in “sticking it to the Man”, or any suchlike hated authority figure. No, my aim is simply to praise his prose, and point up his point. Perhaps I should have sacrificed punchy transatlantic brevity and coolth for the sake of clarity. But, well, I hope I’ve done my best to put things right with this little footnote, albeit at the expense of brevity. It only remains for me to thank you for your patience, and wish you a good day.

Friday 21 August 2009


No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! —
[Thomas Hood, Whimsicalities (1844), ‘No!’]

Except that it’s supposed to be August.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi, and “The Black Guy with the Funny Name”

Not to trivialise a serious and tragic subject (honest), but al-Megrahi sounds surprisingly unforeign in a Scottish context. I keep hearing it as Al McGrachy. A kind of reverse of Barak Obama, the Westerner with the Islamic-sounding moniker.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Strange name for a ship

How odd for someone to be “aboard the Arctic Sea”, as opposed to abroad, or adrift, or whatever, on it.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Pop till you drop

Another nice American review. Among other things it points out that Whatever Happened to Tanganyika? is “small enough to pop in your bag”. And who should know better about that than

Sunday 2 August 2009

“From breathless historical recaps to miniaturist elegies”

Got back from a week abroad to find this very nice review in something called the Wall Street Journal (I think it’s American). Not one British newspaper bothered to give the thing a proper full-length review, as opposed to a cordial mention (with the possible exception of the Stroud News and Journal). Hoorah for the American quality press.