Thursday, 14 August 2014

Clearing music playlist

I took part in my employer's Clearing process today, acting as the front line for telephone calls from 7:46am in the morning. I had some interesting calls; some not particularly pleasant ones; and some that were just nice.

Throughout the day I made a note of all the songs and song lyrics I thought of, and here they are though not in order (except for the very first lyric):

  • You stole the sun form my heart
  • I want to be a superhero's sidekick
  • High-five, more dead than alive
  • Everyday
  • I'm so tied, I'm feeling so upset
  • It really doesn't matter what clothes I wear
  • True happiness lies beyond your fries and happy burger
  • Stop me if you think you've heard this one before
  • Whatever you want to do, do now or pay later
  • To speak to you is a beautiful thing, beautiful thing
  • I've been making plan for the future, I feel so unnecessary
  • But only for a short time
  • What's her name? Virginia plane
  • Don't you people ever go to bed
  • Hunting tigers out in Indiah
  • I've got the skills to pay the bills
  • So you go there and you stay there and go home alone
  • He knew not what band he mixed
  • Call any vegetable, call it by name
  • She asked him, why can we not be together, why is it we must part?
  • Kicker, kicker conspiracy
  • I feel like I am the hunchback of Notre Dame
  • This is the end, my friend the end
  • As he walks from the grave no one was saved
  • I am he who is X, Y, Zee, I carry no card my life is cheap
  • I've got a bike you can ride it if you like
  • Listen to me, listen, listen
  • Wake the town, every one is sleeping, shout, shout it loud
  • Bang, bang, knock on the door, another big bang and I'm down on the floor
  • I will call my mother and tell her, mother, I am never coming home because I appear to have left a small part of my brain in a field in Hampshire
  • My brother knows Karl Marx, he met him eating mushrooms in the peoples park
  • Dedicated, dedicated, dedicated
  • Fag, cut-throat, you dirty switch, you're on again, all night
  • We have the technology to create a new kind of bogey
  • I open my curtains at 7am just so you think I'm out with the rest of the men

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Yes, but what is the murderer's demographic?

Recently I've been trying to write a brief outline of my reading habits. There's a shop in Bath that offers a book recommendation service based on this and a chat in store, it will be interesting to see what they recommend for me.

While I tried to be as concise and clear as possible one thing I was very, very definite about: I like reading books in sequence. I find it very hard picking up book number two in the series, or that the book in my hand that seems really good is actually is the sequel to something the author wrote five years previously. 

It is rare for me to read something out of sequence, even when the book is a freebie (I have a review copy of Peter F Hamilton's Judas Unchained, I bought and read Pandora's Star before looking in it). The only exception seems to be when the book in question is out of print or impossible to find, like Georges Simenon's Maigret series. There's some 75 novels for Maigret alone*, even when they appear in shops it won't necessary be in sequence (I know, why can't secondhand bookshops plan to stock only the books one is looking for, right?), or the title is the revised title. Gladly, Penguin is republishing the books in (a kind of) sequence, so today I bought third in the series from Waterstones in Leeds.

I didn't check this time, there's a corner of the shop that I've never been a fan of. 'Cosy crime' as a genre-definition is truly horrible. The only true cosy crime is the orange and purple number sometimes found in certain tea shops and charity shops. 'Cosy' crime is supposed to bring together Marple and Poirot and Hamish Macbeth and Maigret, yet when one actually reads them the crimes aren't 'cosy', the motives and the reasons are plain human nature, and human nature is messy. 

My relationship with crime fiction has slowly changed, moving from the sensationalism to the exploration and speculation on human nature. My relationship with Doctor Who has changed to, from the scary, behind-the-sofa Urbankans, to a more enjoyable, not-so-scary-but-still-a-little-bit speculation on human nature (again, I wonder where all this speculation is coming from?).

Ten Little Aliens, Stephen Cole, The Late Monsieur Gallet, Georges Simenon,
Waterstone's Leeds

* There's some 400 Simenon books. Maigret is possible his most famous work (it has been translated across the world, there's even a rather nice sounding Japanese series from the 1970s, Michael Gambon played Jules Maigret in ITV's 1990s version). More information here.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Not that Slightly Foxed, but a slightly foxed

I took my time, I circled around, read the contemporaries, made myself aware of some of the stories via radio and TV, eventually I got a MR James book.

The trip out of Scotland was fun. The rain was heavy and I managed to mishear a direction that resulted in a drive through in Edinburgh and Leith, but arriving in Berwick meant a trip to our regular chip shop (Canon, Castlegate). There's lots of books to be found in Berwick, with a couple of secondhand bookshops and charity shops. Berrydin Books is always worth a look, and I came away with an Ursula le Guin's The Lathe of Heaven. I'd never read much beyond the four Earthsea novels (there are four, I know most people know it as a trilogy but there's a fourth and it's the best in the series) [I haven't just stuck my tongue out in defiance, honest], so this will be a welcome addition to the growing 'to read' pile by my bed.

A trip through various charity shops and a market stall named Slightly Foxed but not the Slightly Foxed of London. Mysteriously I can't remember where, it might have been the heart-stopping British Heart Foundation, the blood-red Red Cross shop, or the plain and not very chilling Shelter, but I found a collection of MR James stories. I knew about James for a while, he's been mentioned by a couple of authors I like, and I've seen some Christmas TV adaptations, so this volume will be another good addition to the pile by the bed.

The rain held off. The old bridge looked fantastic against the new one. The ghostly closed shop frontages where slightly scary (in a broken-down, world economy way).

The Lathe of Heaven, Ursula le Guin, Collected Stories, MR James
Berrydin Books, Castlegate, Berwick
Canon Fish and Chips, Castlegate, Berwick

Friday, 1 August 2014

Almost a disaster

After much walking-past-the-front-of-the-shop-to-see-if-the-owners-were-in I spotted one of them. I knew what I wanted to ask, I'd seen the book four days earlier and really wanted to add it to my collection, and yet when I was last in the shop my wife and I were the only people around. No one to pay money to, no one to say what a lovely bookshop we were in.

The book was The High Girders, John Prebble's account of the Tey River Disaster of 1879. I had heard of the disaster though didn't know much. The book's wide claim of the decline of British engineering will be interesting to see if Prebble can demonstrate his argument. Though I think the desire to buy the book is down to two things.

I was in Dundee earlier in the week.

And, I was thwarted in my efforts to purchase the book earlier this week.

The High Girders: The Tey River Disaster 1879, John Prebble
Callander secondhand bookshop