Saturday, 7 February 2015

Books baked well

BECT is a community trust that supports Bakewell and Eyam. They have a bus, and I saw it while watching rugby in a pub in Youlgreave (I'm naming no names as the regulars engaged in the dullest golf clubhouse chat ever). They need an extra, new bus.

To support their fundraising they opened a bookshop in Bakewell, the Book End, on Bridge Street. There's some nice titles, and it's freebie February so all books are three for the price of two. I came away with A Singular Man by JP Donleavy.

There were other bookshops in Bakewell, the eponymous Bakewell Bookshop (very nice range of books and sections for local authors and "set in Derbyshire") and a rather odd one that proclaimed itself open and locked the door. Seemingly this was a use of the word open that I am unfamiliar with.

JP Donleavy, A Singular Man
The Book End (BECT), Bridge House, Bridge Street, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Note: "It's only golf clubhouse banter, chat, jokes-". 

No, it's utter crap, it's men (predominantly) using language to create an Other they can be superior to. Yes, it's terrible your wife is having trouble getting a job due to her age, but it's even more terrible you said the French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud was a gorilla (what, you thought none of the non-locals heard?). 

Equality does not work in unequal societies, the equality needed to support your wife is the same equality that does not look at Bastareaud and view him as a lesser human.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Not taking a Bath

I am not an expert on Dylan Thomas. You might name your favourite poem to me and I will be as unable to place it as you might my favourite lines from Under Milk Wood. So, it is with some excitement that I found a new-to-me title.

When I first saw it I didn't know it was Dylan Thomas. The spine just said Thomas and Davenport, and as such was just a curiosity that I had every intention of returning to the shelf when I had ascertained who had actually write the book, Who Killed The King's Canary?

A book that I would like to write is How Soon Should A Writer Update Their Second Edition? Herbert Read is a writer I am rather fond of, and in the same Oxfam Books in Matlock that I found Thomas I found Read's second edition of Contemporary British Art. The first edition  'came out six years after the second World War', so the revised second edition followed in the mid-to-late Sixties (it is packed in a bag somewhere and I can't check just yet). There are colour plates, and one of the black and white plates is of Peter Blake. I have so far not read Why Your Five Year-Old Could Not Have Done That, I assume it takes the more celebrating aspect of Read rather than the sneer of contemporary newspaper writers.

Two interesting reads to come.

Herbert Read, Contemporary British Art (2nd Edition), Dylan Thomas and John Davenport, The Death of the King's Canary
Oxfam Book, 70 Dale Road, Matlock, Derbyshire

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Barter at Barter

Travelling back from Edinburgh felt like racing sleet and snow, it was in front, behind, at the same time all the time. When it wasn't snow it was idiots trying to live out their misguided Top Gear fantasies and overtake in inappropriate places (it's a fallacy, Top Gear is a controlled environment and very far removed from reality like all rom-com sitcoms are).

After the driving came the pleasure, arriving at Barter Books in Alnwick. Stopping here is a tradition, an institution. If travelling North of Newcastle I implore you to make it a stop-off point. A wide range of pleasure can be sought at Barter Books, food, words and music. If your pleasure does not involve one of these in some way, I am not sure I understand you or why you are reading this blog. Maybe one click too far has brought you to this oasis and you are currently contending with the unfamiliar desire to discover a book.

Or a record.

Or a fantastic slice of flapjack.

I didn't start off with a list. I had a couple of authors and titles in my head that I thought I'd like to look for, and upon finding nothing available on said 'not-list' I mooched around and wandered.

I wandered far and wide, among Christian mythology and Northumberland folktales, across dead desert and dessert to dye for, from Jonathan Strange to Strange Fruit. And I found her. Jessica Fletcher. In book form. There's a co-author, someone called Don, but the book I walked away from the scene of the crime with a Murder, She Wrote book. I might just have to read it next.

Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain, Gin and Daggers
Barter Books, Alnwick Station, Northumberland

Postscript. Another tradition, and another I suggest you try out, is drive along the A1 around Newcastle. Say, Whickham, as if he's betrayed your younger sister for money. It will help you feel better.

Post-postscript. I have a particular fascination with Jessica Fletcher and Murder, She Wrote. This has resulted in me watching the same episode more than once on TV during the same day. To paraphrase the shopping trolley from Bo Fowler's Scepticism Inc, I was mad then, I'm much better now, I only named a central character in a story after her (see Coming Soon).

Monday, 2 February 2015

City of contrasts

Food-wise, and this blog post is mainly about food and tea and coffee, Edinburgh is right up there for things to consume.

On Sunday, having purchased A Very Short Introduction To Management and decided against Ethnomusicology in Waterstones, it was lunch in the Caledonian Waldorf-Astoria. I say lunch, it was high tea accompanied by a live harpist. It was lovely, I would urge everyone to have a high tea if they have the time. It's something else.

This expensive high tea was followed up by breakfast the following day at the Haven, on Anchorfield in Leith. The experience was different but the same as the high tea. So, there's no haggis, I'll have extra bacon, but you know what, that harpist was an hour late.

Wandering around is fun, one discovers things and learns. The Haven offers a better breakfast than the Premier Inn though the beds are non-existent. And you know what, you can buy records, books and art there too.

And the final contrast. I was told that Bond No. 9 was the best place in Leith and indeed Edinburgh for cocktails. I didn't try it out, instead refreshment was found in Roseleaf in Leith. I can't remember the location, I didn't have a cocktail in a teapot, though the staff were very accommodating in supplying me with a bourbon, a rum and a whiskey. I in return left a message on the blackboard in the men's toilet.

The Haven, 9 Anchorfield, Edinburgh
Roseleaf, Sandport Place, Edinburgh

Sunday, 1 February 2015

An Armchair Confession

I need a soundtrack for this blog post. Something suitable. As it was cold out in Edinburgh I thought maybe Belle & Sebastian's Winter Wooskie, but that doesn't quite get the mood of this confession.

What works is Been Caught Stealin' by Jane's Addiction. It works very well.

There are some places that one knows like the back of their hand. I am fairly capable of making my way around central Edinburgh, and that includes some of the cutty-across-streets and bridges that crop up. Near the Grassmarket there's a couple of bookshops and other curiosities. It's Sunday, so a little hit and miss that smaller independent shops are open, and it's not a problem if they are closed, but sometimes it's worth having a look to see if that book shop last seen in 2009 is still there.

It is, along with a few others down the road from the College of Arts Library. The strip-club has gone, but the only people that lament the closing of a strip-club unfortunately will find another way for the sexual objectification of others. The others are closed but Armchair Books is open.

And how, so many nice books ordered in fairly useful descriptions. Literature, Poetry, Warhammer, Art Net. Easily a considerable amount of time was spent among the shelves, and deep inside I found a copy of Wisden's 2008. I decided against this as I don't remember much happening in cricket in 2007 (or at least I don't remember anything I would want to remember at a later date).

What I did come away with was Herman Hesse book (Knulp), Alastair Reynolds's Absolution Gap, and Asterix and the Banquet. The last two books are good finds, Armchair's windows proudly show of the invitation to find Asterix inside. As for Absolution Gap I had been standing in Waterstones Princess Street not three hours earlier contemplating whether I should buy this and end the Revelation Space trilogy.

Now, my confession. Armchair Books have a small selection of Richard Brautigan books. I even asked if there may be some others elsewhere in the stock. So, these five titles of Brautigan were almost technically in the right area but not together. I helped, I rearranged them and the next person looking for Brautigan will find them all together after Melvyn Bragg and before Brooker.

Asterix and the Banquet ("Text: Goscinny. Drawings: Uderzo"), Knulp, Hermann Hesse, Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds
Armchair Books,
72-74 West Port, Edinburgh