Sunday, 31 August 2008

Listless for a minute

This reading list business is all very well but now we've all got lists of must-reads and maybe-reads that are several miles long (and mine were already fairly long..I may never sleep again). The only way I'll ever get through all these books is if I can get put back in time to, say, 17 years of age. That would give me some extra reading hours though of course it might confuse Small Girl (“Mummy, you look different...your're so much thinner...and where's Dad...and what are all those beer cans doing there...and get out of bed!”).

Anyway, before we move on to a reading list for poetry (can we take it...will there be fighting?) I was having a few thoughts on...well...poetry. I'm not one for spouting off theories about poetry very often but you know what rules were made for! So, here goes...I was reading Hugh McMillan's new 'Postcards from the Hedge' and absolutely LOVING some of it and wondering why I like it so much more than lots of other poetry being written and published around now (especially his sick suicide poem which is fantastic, brave, hilarious, true and cruel... in a loving way). Then I realised that what I like about, say, McMillan's 'Notice by Highland Regional Council' is (suitably enough) something really simple - he isn't trying too hard. He is trying (for sure) but his writing doesn't feel laboured or forced or showy or like it's written to impress editors or to win poetry competitions (and on that subject I think the current plague of competitions is bad for poetry in a way...and not just because I've never won one...more on that another time...). I think it's what feels to me like over-trying that puts me off a lot of the poetry I see in magazines and websites and smart thin volumes. Maybe it's always been that way but it seems to me that right now a lot of people writing poetry are so desperate to be... poetic that they somehow miss the point...well any points that interest me anyway. Does that sound harsh? Truth hurts and all that...or maybe I'm way off whatever the mark might be...

On a related subject there was an interesting interview with actress (and now small film festival organiser) Tilda Swinton in The Independent on Friday. In it she said 'people get so caught up in thinking that they need their lives or career to go a certain way. I don't get it.' And that's kind of how I feel about poetry. I have no big plans for the career. I don't want to win the competitions (though of course winning is always nice but it really isn't the point, it's a distraction). I don't want to teach Creative Writing or be Poet frigging Laureate. I don't want to know what's going to happen. I want it to be unexpected and exciting, where possible, and I certainly don't want to spend all my time at literary festivals with other poets (bitching about who won this and who didn't get a deal from that). I want to stay out in the world and think and write and just get on with it all. In some ways all I want is people to read my poems when possible and for them to get as much out of them as I sometimes get out of poems written by others. Hell, I'm succinct. Such a way with words...

Which reminds me...I got my first customer review on 'More about the song's Amazon page. Alden Roach lives in Pennsylvania and read my poems via MySpace first. I've never met him, I've never bought anything of his, he bought his own copy of my book...and he has written the most lovely review. I was quite overwhelmed with the generosity of it (though I know North Americans can be much more pleasant than us bitter old Europeans - still his words were very welcome). Roach writes songs and generally speaking it's people outside of poetry who like my poems most. There are different ways of looking at that I suppose. You could call me 'easy' or 'accessible' or 'not real poetry' or you could say people outside of poetry just have great taste. Personally, I couldn't possibly comment...

Back to the lists soon...get your notes ready!


Friday, 29 August 2008

Reading list for life - part 2

Here we go again.

Let's still keep off poetry for now (though start saving them for next post) but I'd be very interested to have your 'must-read' recommendations for books written (or published) after 1920. Remember you're recommending to that wide-eyed seventeen year old (not necessarily our never know with the internet after all - she could really be a sixty year old transvestite from Middlesbrough pretending to be a wide-eyed seventeen year old girl...).

Whoever we're doing it for...mention as many books as you like, give a reason or two if you can, any tales related to it and so on. I know there are a lot of list features in magazines these days but I'm not doing this to fill a space or to sell anything...I really am interested in what you all rate as really and truly the best books and prose writers of all.

And my recommendations for this era? Oh heck, I'm not sure. It's quite a pressure isn't it? Maybe that's why I'm interested in what you all think. Maybe I don't know my own mind (all that elimination of the self you see...there's nothing left now!). I can say that I think all the following authors have written prose fiction I'm glad I took the time to read somewhere along the line:

Monica Ali, Heinrich Böll, Julio Cortázar, Margaret Drabble, Gabriel García Márquez, Mark Haddon, Alice Hoffman, Barbara Kingsolver, Harper Lee, Andrea Levy, Armistad Maupin, Arthur Miller, David Mitchell, Alice Munro, Iris Murdoch, George Orwell, Rebbecca Ray, Arundhati Roy, Carol Shields, Lionel Shriver, Dodie Smith, Zadie Smith, Alice Walker, Helen Zahavi

It's kind of an odd list (some I'm sure will make you think I'm quite mad and/or tasteless) but I have never pretended to be anything than kind of an odd reader/person. I'm sure I will think of others I should have listed as the days go by...and I look forward to finding more to add as my reading life continues.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Reading list for life

Over at Dave King's (down in the tardy comments a post or so ago) we got to the subject of 'books a young lassie of 17 really should read'. Mainly we were talking about books written before 1920 (a random date but let's stick with it for now). Maybe if this goes well we'll do a post 1920 post next time. And then a poetry one...

First off let's see what we can do with this!

If you had to pick one novel (or other prose) written before 1920 to recommend to this young lassie what would you choose?

If you really can't pick just one...pick a know I like to be flexible.

Obviously there are a lot of great books known best as children's books but let's keep off them for now. This girl is growing up and let's prepare her for the horrors and joys of grown-up life!

It's harder than you least I think it is. I studied English Lit at school and Spanish and Russian Lit at uni and I have read... a few books but when it came to decide what I would really, hand-on-heart, you-must-read-this recommend...I wasn't so sure all of a sudden. Yes, I read a lot of Dickens when I was 17 but that was for an exam. I enjoyed it...all of it...but is that what I would say 'stop what you're doing and read this now!' Likewise I read every Jane Austen novel and enjoyed them all...but would I offer them up as must-reads? Is that just because they are considered and labelled 'classics'? If they didn't come with that label and kudos (if you like) would they be top of a list, top of my list? It's quite tricky.

I started off recommending Charlotte Brontë's 'Jane Eyre' (pub. 1847) but I know that is partly because I read it quite recently (within the last couple of years anyway). I had never read it before (one of those things...just passed me by somehow) and I expected it to know, the big dramatic Brontë thing (I had read 'Wuthering Heights' and found it fairly tedious...all that toing and froing over the moors...) but then when I read 'Jane Eyre'! I loved the voice it was written in, the awareness of the writer and the character...more than the story (which we all know, more or less) I loved the writing and the way you can feel the writer finding a freedom in the book that she probably didn't have in life. Or maybe you think I got that wrong...sometimes when you read a book can be as important as what you read...

Anyway, I look forward to your suggestions. All readers are welcome to join in here...not just the regular comment providers! And no suggestion too ridiculous.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Totally available

What with the school holidays and all I have been a bit slow at getting my book to Amazon but it's there now (and discounted...of course!). It's on the not the .com.

So I'm there, I'm cheap and I'm available 24 hours a day!


p.s. If it says 'out of stock' (which it will say from time to time...) you can still buy. It's just because it's a new set-up and all it means is I have to send them more copies...which is good because it means someone is buying them already! If it was you...thanks. Heck, that was a rambly explanation even for me!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Villanelles a go-go, baby

Thanks so much for all your comments on my last post about hobbyhorses. I really enjoyed reading all the lists and related information and there is an added bonus - I now know who to ask when I have a question about 'Swallows and Amazons', botany, punk rock, Greek mythology or pretty much any other subject you can think of. Between us we know everything...more or less...

Mentioning some of my old out-to-grass horses reminded me yet again of my misspent youth (I say 'youth'...I started behaving badly at about 12 and stopped at about 30...that's a bit more than 'youth' I fear...). I used to think about it a lot but these days I have fewer regrets, more laughs about it all, a good load of stories to tell. Somewhere in that era I tried most things (well apart from good old-fashioned hard work and bungee jumping). I was a thoroughly bad girl and whilst this does mean I can honestly advise Small Girl on most of the evils of our modern world I am hoping for the Ab Fab daughter-is-opposite-of-mother storyline so I won't need to spill any of these particular beans at all!

I haven't written many poems about all this business – a person doesn't want to be a bore - but every now and again a subject seems ripe for a poem and this week (for various reasons) it seemed to be time for an acid poem. Several things prompted it – an email from a pirate radio DJ I used to know and another poem by another poet – and it turned into the villanelle that I will post at the bottom of this ramble. I like doing villanelles about the kind of subject matter you might not expect to find in a fancy thing like a villanelle. It makes me feel a bit like a 'Wendy Cope for the ecstasy generation' (a title SO much more appealing than the dreaded 'Pam Ayres on acid' I've seen used to describe a couple of other poets – for a start how does anyone know Ayres is not already on acid...all the time?). One of my rock'n'roll villanelles 'Not tonight, Radiohead' has probably been one of my most successful and well-liked poems to date and it has just been published in the magazine The Mental Virus too by the way so its good run continues (though they seem to have added in lots of punctuation that certainly wasn't mine). It always amazes me when people read it wrong and say 'so you don't like Radiohead then?' (Doh!) That poem is on my MySpace profile page or on my website in the Songs section for anyone who hasn't read it and who wants to know what on earth I'm going on about.

But back to the acid. I didn't take a lot of it – it really didn't suit me – but I did meet it now and again, said 'hello', spent one of those 'longest nights of your life', swore never to touch it again...The metal head, the ridiculous sleep deprivation, the paranoia...there's not a lot to be said for it really. Here's the poem...not to be taken too seriously...

And from the menu came a whisper 'pick me, pick me'

I'm sure that pizza keeps winking at me
An olive for an eye and a mushroom tooth
Eating out is simpler without the LSD

It seems a good idea but it really might not be
Who can tell that to a know-it-all youth?
I'm sure that pizza keeps smiling at me

I raise my eyes but the ceiling's just sea
Rolling waves of doubt and a current full of truth
Eating out is simpler without the LSD

And then the freaky food can turn much less friendly
I swear that flatbread is a touch uncouth!
That bloody, cheeky pizza is laughing at me!

You shake your clever head and these days I would agree
To know what's wrong it doesn't take a sleuth
Eating out is simpler without the LSD

Cutting through is hard but chewing sets us free
I can't look down, it's alive, oh struth!
I'm sure that pizza has got it in for me
Oh, eating out is simpler without the LSD

RF 2008

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


You know how the mind wanders? Well, mine has been wandering well and truly around this subject of the elimination of the self (a subject first raised in this rambling mind a couple posts ago via Kipling's 'Kim' - I'm about halfway through that by the way, keep getting distracted...). The other day, for example, I thought to myself 'how odd because to some people the idea or the words elimination of the self would mean suicide'. Then I wandered on...'would other people think that thought or is it just me because of that big old suicide in my personal history?' I wondered about how trapped we are (in our minds) by the experiences we have had, by our pet subjects if you like.

I know I certainly have my pet subjects and I'm interested to know yours, oh varied and fascinating individuals who read this blog. Mine are (in no particular order):

- suicide (and any related subject really)

- anything else to do with mental health questions and happiness/sadness (HUGE subject, I know)

- music (particularly singing and songs)

- feminism (quite a loose definition thereof...)

- comedy (1970s TV comedy was my Dad , discuss)

- walking (particularly people who set off on huge walks in a Forrest Gump stylee - Art Garfunkel, for example, likes a good ramble you know)

- writers and writing

There are others I used to keep but that these days are not the pets they used to be. For example, twenty years ago when I was studying Spanish I was crazy for anything to do with Spain and Latin America (and was forever saying things like 'that's not what happened in Chile') but these days I'm very out of date in this area (my Spanish, like the drunks, is rusting...and can I even name any presidents of Spanish speaking countries...probably not many...although I'm pretty sure Pinochet is dead – may he Rest in Purgatory). Also I used to read/watch anything to do with Class A drugs but I'm kind of over that now. More or less.

So how do you know something is a pet subject?

- You cannot...just cannot...resist reading an article in the paper (any paper) or on-line (any line) about that subject or anything even vaguely related to it

- You think about it far too often – sometimes when you really should be thinking about something else

- You see links to it...sometimes when they are possibly not even there

- You come back to it again. And again. And again...

Interested in your comments, as ever. Schools are back in Angus today and did I say it doesn't rain here? I lied. It's very, very wet.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Again with the fridge magnets...

Some of you might remember the little fridge magnet project I'm working on this year. No Arts Council grant or anything but hey, who needs the paperwork? This way I don't even need to leave my kitchen and it's going really well so far. There was that baby poem back in May and I wrote one in July too (a happy summer one in fact, it's on my myspace blog and it's called 'Keep the peach'). I'm really enjoying the challenge of (a) using the words on offer on the calendar and (b) bending the rules when I really, really want a word that isn't there!

So here is this month's. It's weird because we haven't actually had that much rain in this part of Scotland but I suppose there has been a lot of talk about rain elsewhere. Also it's a bit of a misery fest and, on the surface at least, I've been feeling quite cheerful (suspicious in itself!). A lot of bending went on - I had to cheat with my second 'why' (take a 'what' and stick a 'y' over the end!) and with the 'break' (interestingly take 'breast' and stick one of Small Girl's fridge magnet 'k's over the end...particularly interesting considering the whole matter of drunks and how they behave like babies...). I know some of you won't like the rhyme at the end but I'm afraid it just wouldn't go away...'rhyme me, rhyme me', it was wailing! I tried other endings (lots) but this seems to be the one for now.

I like this little project for lots of reasons but I have to admit that one reason is to do with the sneering of others (remember how much I hate I try not to do it myself..?). Every time I read someone sneering at 'greeting card poetry' or 'slogan poetry' or 'fridge magnet poetry' I feel the urge to bring out a whole range of all of the above, to get Banksy to spray them all over Buckingham Palace or something. I'm not going to do that, you understand, but it does wind me up. It's so easy to easy...and I should know...much better to just get on and DO something, WRITE something. Anyway, here's the poem.

Nature falls

Why here, why now
Does it rain like future?
Our grey old present
An eternity lake

We ache and sweat
How wet, how bitter
We rust like drunks
Supped up, fit to break

RF 2008


Monday, 11 August 2008

Sneering at god?

I know sometimes I make sneery comments about religion (especially Christianity and anything to do with the Bible) – some lighthearted, some less so. Sometimes I hear or read myself do it and think...hmmm, so easy to sneer (and I hate sneering as a rule). So why do I make the exception in this lazy and bad as some of the religious people who say one thing and then do quite the other! See, there I go again...

I thought maybe it was time to have a post with some religious content that wasn't completely flippant and/or offensive. All that self-eliminating from the last post...look how it's working! So anyway I'm going to post a poem I wrote a while back about Quakers. My Dad was from a Quaker family (Fox is about as Quaker a name as you can get although in fact we are not descended from George Fox, the founder of the Quaker way). My Dad wasn't particularly religious (and he worked a lot) so we didn't go to meeting when I was a child (meeting is the Sunday worship for the Quakers/Society of Friends if you're unfamiliar with the term). I did go to a Quaker secondary school though – a small weird boarding school in North Yorkshire and we had meeting regularly there and we did learn about the Quaker beliefs (bascially Christian but with a big emphasis on peace, silence and thinking). Some people who don't know about Quakerism think it's a kind of cult or something like the Amish (keeping the past alive...) but it's nothing like that at all. It's just people meeting together to think and talk and, maybe, worship (no singing, no dancing, no praying as such). Quakers don't have vicars or ministers of any kind and in meeting anyone can get up and speak (about anything, in theory). In school it was only ever teachers who spoke of course but pupils did sometimes ambush the record player (usually when a rock star died...I seem to remember one rebellious sixth former playing the Sex Pistols' 'My way' at some point). Quakers are fairly laid-back as a rule so the school was like a C4 experiment (little discipline, much bad behaviour). I got in a fair amount of trouble (and it was quite hard to get in trouble, believe me) and I certainly didn't spend a lot of time thinking about religion...well, not unless you think Robert Plant really is a god.

These days my Mum still goes to Quaker meeting so I still hear about the Friends quite regularly. My Mum isn't hugely religious either but she likes Quakers (in fact both her husbands were Quakers). By and large the people you meet at a meeting are really good, kind, generous, open-minded, thinking people and that's certainly one reason she keeps going. Plus Quakers are not at all evangelical which is always a plus...once religion gets into marketing the only way is downhill and fast (to the gates of hell!). I suppose one day I might even go myself but it's unlikely. I find talk of God and Jesus a real stumbling block...for example I always find it really hard to continue conversations with people once they start saying things like 'yes, but God understands that' or 'but that's what Jesus was talking about'. It's just all too vague (but full of certitude). They always know...and if there's one thing I know it's that we know very little. That doesn't help with living particularly but personally I prefer it to the alternatives. I am working on the self eliminating though...a person can have too much of themselves!

Anyway, here's my poem. I hope the lines fit. I don't intentionally write visual poetry or anything like that (the visual is my weakest area) but I liked the way this one came out in steps. That's just how it came. An act of god (or even God?)? Absolutely not – it was the poetry fairies what done it!

What you can learn from Quakers

You won't learn a lot about fashion
But you might learn to shut up now and then
You won't pick up any useful military tactics
But you might learn some patience and understanding
You won't be doing much dancing, singing or clapping
But you might have the odd quiet moment of revelation
You might not know what it is that makes people just sit there
But you might learn to do it, to just sit there, to be at peace

RF 2006 or thereabouts

Saturday, 9 August 2008

High roads and low

Family holidays...the strangest of times...especially when you're in a bizarre multi-generational set-up like we are. Here are a few of this summer holiday's highs, lows, shocks and weirdnesses...

1.High – Somehow I hadn't managed to come up with a 'book I was really looking forward to reading' by packing time but luckily we stop in Ballater on the way north so I go into the second-hand bookshop there to put things right. Deeside Books has a good and varied selection and if you can get past the non-stop bagpipe music it's worth a look. Ballater is much more Scotland-for-the-tourists than anywhere round here (Angus). In Ballater it's bagpipes, tartan, shortbread, thistles and whiskey all the way...welcome to the highlands!
2.Shock – the hotel we are staying in up in the Cairngorms is full of families (and by this I mean children and when I say 'full' I do mean 'really quite seriously full'). We don't normally do anything like a conventional family holiday but this year we are trying something different (a person can try to fit in now and again). The hotel foyer is huge and busy and a bit like an airport lounge (and boy do I hate airports). Oh well, Small Girl is very excited.
3.Shock – my god, the hotel has 'entertainments for children' every night! We have never stayed anywhere with 'entertainments for children'. Small Girl goes to the magic show on the first night – it is OK.
4.High - as the magic show is only OK we go and watch 'Miss Potter' in our room (while in-house mother sleeps in front of yet another Agatha Christie TV adaptation in her room... down the corridor a bit). I've seen Miss P before but I still cry like a bugger when poor old Ewan McGregor kicks the bucket. It's a highly sentimental film but a very watchable one and it's good to watch some TV together (usually I surf or work while SG watches whatever Barbie nonsense she is trying to burn her brain with). In this film Small Girl likes the animation but is disappointed not to actually see EMG as a corpse ('I want to see him dead!'). As for me, all that stuff about Miss P doing the book her own way and being pooh-poohed at the start...I can't help but like all that (whether it's accurate or not...and I suspect a lot of it isn't – any Potter experts out there?).
5.Low – the hotel bar has 'entertainments for adults' too – on one night there is a man in the biggest mullet I have ever seen singing 'Loch Lomond' and 'Sweet Caroline'. Eeek. We go back upstairs and luckily we can't hear the horror from our room.
6.High – the breakfasts are fantastic. The dining room is still FULL of families (i.e. children and very tired adults) but the food is great. Big hotels have their advantages and in this one the food is a big plus. I like food a lot so this may well make up for the guy with the mullet and the airport lounge business.
7.High – we came to the hotel in question mainly for the swimming pool. We don't normally go to places for the swimming pool but this year we have. The pool is surprisingly bearable (if you avoid rush hour – i.e. just before tea) and, apart from in-house mother who hates swimming, we all use the pool as much as we can.
8.High – there is a herd of reindeer living in the Cairngorms (imported from Sweden). We go and see them and it is very interesting and educational. Small Girl tells me with some certainty that these are the very reindeer Santa uses at Xmas (despite the obvious lack of a red-nosed candidate). Unlike me she is big on belief and, as yet, she remains unperturbed by problematic details.
9.Low – we have to go into Aviemore on an errand. Aviemore is a carpark with a Tesco attached. We are lucky and find the best café in the village for tea and cake (so low becomes high). They call Aviemore a village but I have to say it doesn't feel like one.
10.High – a red nose at last! Mr Bubbles the Clown is the next kids' show and he is really quite funny. All the kids get to spin plates and watching them all trying is quite entertaining in itself. You can be too highbrow you know.
11.Weirdness – With Small Girl put to bed I try to read one of the books I bought in Ballater ('Kim' by you-know-who...or Rudyard Kipling, if you don't). These are the oddest bits of family holidays (and family life in general)...from spinning plates to Penguin classics in the click of a hotel door. It's hard to concentrate on the book after the stimulation of the post-dinner activities but I do my best. The notes are by Edward W. Said and are very interesting especially to an anti-religious lout like me who learned most of what she knows about Buddhism from 'Absolutely Fabulous'. Said describes the Buddhist Wheel of Life as 'a diagram illustrating the Buddhist belief that all life is suffering and that the cure of suffering is effected by the elimination of ignorance and of the self.' This fair makes me ponder! Is our world not the self gone crazy and out of control? Personally I'm having a bit of trouble with the self and it's a bit of trouble that's been going on for about 20 years. If I just eliminated the self would that be the end of it? Hmmm. It sounds too easy! Plus how do you do it? Can you do it on the NHS? Does it hurt? Where does the self go afterwards?
12.Low – hotel is a bit claustrophobic (despite been quite huge...sadly I find pretty much everything claustrophobic). Still (high) I do not freak out spectacularly as I might have done in earlier years. Am I in control of the self? (I did do some yoga once). Have I eliminated it? I ponder but I don't quite get it - if I don't have a self how can I eliminate anything? Religion always confuses me. I know it works for some people...but I really can't be doing with it myself (self? self? Who self? Will self? I'm not sure this is helping...).
13.High – one day we all play mini-golf. Big golf is dull but mini-golf is just perfect and one of the few things we can all do (with our age group spanning 8-84).
14.Weirdness – after mini-golf I have some reading time and pick up a book I bought second-hand a while back - 'A Choice of Emily Dickinson's Verse (Selected with an introduction by Ted Hughes)'. I wonder if ED ever played mini-golf (unlikely). Again it is a little hard to concentrate (what with these thoughts of golf and strange juxtapositions) but I do my best. I very much enjoy 'I died for Beauty' and it makes me think of Larkin and Keats and, hey look, I can think grown-up poetry stuff on holiday! I've read the Ted Hughes introduction before but I read it again because it is marvellous and reaffirms some of my own poetic instincts (yay eccentric punctuation, yay bugger the taste of the day, yay intense ladies who don't go out much, yay only being appreciated after you're dead...actually can I amend the last one..?).
15.High – we do get to walk out in the beautiful countryside a bit. Not as much as we will do when Small Girl is big and off doing something else (and we are a lot older and creakier...) but some walking is always better than none.
16.High – there are some highs that are personal and I won't be sharing them with you!
17.High – we meet up with a relative who lives locally and is lovely. Families aren't always crap. Not always.
18.Weirdness – one night the kids entertainment is a Snakes and Spiders show. They have real pythons and a real tarantula and they get them out of the cages. Strangely this is much less frightening than the guy with the mullet earlier in the week.
19.Low – one morning I overdose on the amazing breakfast options and have to lie down for a while.
20.High – the Beloved and I play tennis in the rain. It is only light rain. We are so British.
21.High – we go to Grantown-on-Spey and visit another bookshop (The Bookmark). We are so excited by this small, independent, friendly bookshop that we buy an armful of assorted books for all the family. In fact there are lots of interesting little independent shops here... no sign of Tesco, either....see the link there?
22.Low – I do some dancing at the kids disco one evening after a large meal and nearly have to lie down on the dancefloor to recover. I don't actually lie down, you understand. That would be shameful!
23.Low – some lows are personal and I won't be sharing them with you. I can't even hint.
24.High – after struggling to fit proper books into this weird week in wonderland I give in on day 5 and pick up one of the other books I bought in Ballater – Toby Young's 'How to lose friends and alienate people' (great title!). This book is at least 95% fluff as TY goes off to NYC to work for 'Vanity Fair' (always seems an odd name for a magazine...can't say I've ever read it). I wasn't even sure which writer TY was (there's another Toby isn't there...Toby Litt? Don't know much about either) but now I know that TY is the one who was friends with Julie Burchill and edited 'Modern Review' (never read that either). Young is probably unbearable in your face but it is quite a funny book and perfectly suitable for reading in between clown shows and huge meals. It even has a quote/endorsement from la grande Burchill on the front (which reminded me about the whole Joanna Lumley poetry endorsement nonsense of we're back to Ab Fab...). I hate the way books have become such slaves to the endorsements and reviews – some books have pages and pages of 'great' reviews at the front of them these days and they only make me suspicious (wouldn't one good review be we need to see thirty five?). Young's book (which I'm about halfway through) is very funny on New York high society and the desperate fight to be someone in the world of fashion and magazines (fashion, turn to the left...etc.). It is about as far from the elimination of the self as it is possible to be and is a lot about the self, the feeble self, the need to have other people think your self is better than their self. One thing I have achieved in amongst my lifelong mid-life crisis is that I really don't care about who's better than who, about who thinks who is better than who...hey, maybe I am more sorted than I realise! That would be pleasant. 'How to lose friends...' is most of all amusingly self-deprecating and, being British, that is a type of humour I can cope with.
25.Weirdness/high - on the last night the Beloved takes Small Girl off camping in the wild - hotels are not really his thing and 4 nights was enough for him. Tents make me REALLY claustrophobic so I stay in the hotel and watch 'Never mind the Buzzcocks' and, you know, my pal Andy is right the new guy presenter is very funny (he's called Simon Amstell and I'm about a year late on that one, no doubt). Amstell manages to be very rude and very charming all at the same time (where Mark Lamarr was only rude...sometimes unbearably so for me on 'Buzzcocks' - although I can put up with him elsewhere). At Amstell I laugh and least I think it was where did I put that yoga mat?

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Good news and fast

I love it when something in the newspaper makes me laugh...and laugh...and laugh (instead of cry...and get depressed...and write miserable, if now and again poignant, poems). Go and read the extract from Mark Steel's book in today's Independent and you too may laugh...and laugh...and laugh.

I'm away for a week or thereabouts but I may be checking in now and again anyway. Depends on the weather...