Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thinking About Your Holidays...

Waking up at 6 a.m. on a cool warm morning,
Opening the windows and breathing in petrol,
An amateur band rehearsing in a nearby yard,
Watching the tele and thinking about your holidays.

That's Entertainment by Paul Weller

This endless cold grey winter finally got to me yesterday and I blew a few hundred on a nice holiday.

Since then I've been day-dreaming about it constantly; this may be a bad sign, or just a reaction to months of gloom and cold...


Friday, February 20, 2009


I'm currently 'at work' in the office...

My clothes were fresh-on approximately 29 hours ago.

Every now and again I fall asleep until a little jolt of vertigo wakes me up before my head hits the keyboard or (worst case scenario) the carpet.*

The cause? A good night's poker in a little tournament yesterday evening that went well into the small hours of the morning.

The result? 4th place out of 73 players, and nearly £300 better off than this time yesterday.

Wrinkles, stubble and tiredness be damned.

* A note for the C.B.I Thought Police. The use of the personal pronoun does not necessarily mean me, myself, the real I because fictional processes may have been at work. Furthermore, I am unaware of any such diminution of personal productivity caused by such a poker game, nor would I be disposed to discuss such a poker game, if in fact, such a poker game did in fact, exist.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poor John Updike

Poor John Updike.

I first read his one of his books in 1984 because I had too; the American Literature syllabus at Manchester demanded it.

Despite being forced to read it (a great way of putting anyone off even the greatest book ever written) Rabbit Run, published in 1960 isn’t a bad book at all. It’s perhaps the first of many Updike novels that shows his brilliant descriptive skills.

Encouraged, I read a few more Updikes and found them competant if a little samey, and in fact the more I read the more like one huge novel, or rather the same novel rewritten they came to seem.

And there are an awful lot of John Updike novels -
like most writers who are shit, he wrote far too much and too often – publishing over 20 novels and 10 or something short story collections in a literary career that spanned five decades.

Of all those novels, no fewer than two are pretty good, and one or two more (no more than that - Updike is too bland) might be great.

Here’s my list:

Roger’s Version – about a religious fundies’ attempt to prove the existence of god by computer analysis.

Memoirs of the Ford Administration – A really clever little book which is actually about parallels between the mid 1970s crisis of confidence in the United States in the aftermath of Watergate and the era of President James Buchanan who was unable to avoid the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Rabbit is Rich – A very good sequel in which our hero, nicknamed Rabbit finds material success but emotional catastrophe in the early 1980s. The description and evocation of the time and place are just outstanding, and the hero hasn’t quite become a complete tosser yet.

The excellent (and equally talented) David Foster Wallace nailed the attitudes of my generation to the grand old man of American Lit in this brilliant essay.

I really doubt anyone will bother with John Updike novels in 20 years time; which is a pity, as there's seldom been anyone who could write better descriptive prose. It’s just a shame all he seemed to care about was dull middle aged men having dull sex outside dull marriage.



Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Two Writers and a Brig


So much to write about and so little time.

I wanted to discuss the life and work of Sir John Mortimer Q.C and John Updike, both of whom died recently, and both of who’s work I’d read and more or less liked.

Maybe I will a bit later. Yesterday was wonderful as the snow shut everything down, but typically I had a heavy cold and couldn't enjoy it because I would have spent most of the day in bed in any case.

It’s little consolation that the office is like the quarterdeck of the Mary Celeste this morning.

Urgh I feel a lot better and there’s loads to do…