Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Eighth Day of the Week by Marek Hlasko (Secker & Warburg 1956)

The waiter snatched up the empty bottle as he passed the table. Light - windows had filled with dirty light. A drunken party entered noisily. Agnieszka quickly took stock of the them: all of them were well dressed and cheerful.

'It's closing time for the night-clubs,' Grzegorz said. He jerked his head towards the new arrivals. 'Architects. They've come here for the last tankful. It's essential to preserve contact with the masses.'

The waiter came up, put the bottle on the table. 'When will you pay?'

'In a couple of days,' Grzegorz said. The waiter walked away. 'Look at them,' Grzegorz said, 'it may make you feel better.'

Agnieszka turned her head. There was a throng at the bar, the mood was that of a joyful morning. A tall greying man with noble features, dressed in a magnificently tailored suit of English cloth, was slapping the shoulder of a youngster who looked like an apprentice thief and talking loudly: 'I'm not a stranger, I was a boy just like you. From Wola. Before the war I used to go to the Roxy. I loved cowboy pictures. They played that kind at Wola. Do you know Stasiek Malinowski from Wola?'

'No,' the other said, wrinkling his low forehead.

The greying man beamed. 'You see, you see. God, those were terrible times. There was hunger, misery. You couldn't even dream of getting a job.' He raised his hand in a magnificent sweeping gesture. 'Waitress!' he said to the girl behind the counter. 'Princess! One round for all. We'll all drink to the working class of Wola.' He added in Russian, 'It's on me.' And, turning to the boy, 'My name's Andrzej, and yours?'


'Well, good for you.' He handed a glass to the boy. 'Here's to you, Kazik. And to Wola!'

Grzegorz rose from his seat. He poured the entire contents of the bottle into a mug, and walked up to the counter. He bowed to a lady in a low-cut gown. 'May I join in the toast, gentlemen?' he said.

'Make yourself at home, make yourself at home,; several voices said.

'To the working class of Wola,' said Grzegorz. He splashed the vodka into the face of the greying man and jumped back. A knife gleamed in the hand of the boy with the low forehead. Grzegorz drew out a gun. He raised his left hand. 'Quiet,' he said. 'Don't move. I won't fight the peasant way. I'll shoot.'

They walked out. Outside, Agnieszka said, 'Feel better?'

'A little,' he said. He put the gun back in his pocket. She gave him a sideways glance.

'I can't say you lack Polish characteristics.'

He shrugged his shoulders, then smiled weakly. 'He said himself he liked cowboy pictures,' he said. 'We must penetrate into the dreams and aspirations of the working class, understand its strivings . . . ' He paused. After a while he asked, 'Will she come on Sunday?' 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Original Stan The Man by Stanley Bowles with Ralph Allen and John Iona (Paper Plane Publishing 1996)

Malcolm thought I was hanging around with the wrong type of people, and resented the company that I was keeping. He was hearing reports from all quarters that I had been seen in the seedy places in town, and there was an ongoing argument between us. Malcolm frequented night-clubs such as the Cabaret Club, and was known as Champagne Charlie. He had a bee in his bonnet about me and wherever he went the conversation would, at some point, come around to me. People would always say to me: "Oh, Malcolm's just been in, slagging you off." Wherever I went, it seemed that Malcolm had already been there.

He was an excellent coach; very creative and passionate and not afraid to take chances in a game, or use innovative tactics. But, at the same time, he was very flamboyant, bold and abrasive, and found it difficult to handle people  - unlike Joe Mercer, who everyone regarded as a sort-of uncle. You certainly wouldn't go to Malcolm with any personal problems, because he might fly into a temper at the slightest provocation. Despite this, he thought of himself as the manager of the club; and didn't like it when anyone questioned that view.

When I broke into the first team in 69/70, our outside-left, Tony Coleman, used to say: "Do you want to come out for the night?" So I would go out with Tony and we became very friendly. In the end I was staying with him a couple of nights a week. We used to go round everywhere together. Tony was a great one for the birds, but I wasn't — because I was already heavily into horse racing and was happily married. Everybody went to discotheques at the weekends, this being the heyday of soul music, but I would just be at the bar, not dancing.

One night I was drinking at the Cabaret Club with Tony, when Malcolm came to our table. A row started between the two of them. Tony was a lot older than me, and Malcolm was trying to accuse Tony of leading me astray, saying: "What are doing bringing a young player into a club like this?" Tony kept quiet, but I couldn't: "Why don't you shut up?" I said.

There was a huge silence, then Malcolm threw a punch at me. So I threw one back, and it all started again. Tony jumped up and smashed a pint glass on the table.

It could have become very nasty, because Tony was a real handful in those days, but the brawl was broken up by the guy who owned the club. That was to be my last battle with the Manchester City establishment.

Soon afterwards, I went into training one day and Dave Ewing said: "Malcolm wants to see you and, unfortunately, he's going to get rid of you." So I picked my boots up and left. I knew I was walking away from one of the biggest clubs in England, but I wasn't bothered either way. At the time I was too reckless to care. I'd half expected it anyway, so I just got on with life as usual.

The official version was that City had decided to release me.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Morning's Toonage

The Sleaford Mods and their plea for global harmony, 'Jolly Fucker'.

Must be played LOUD  . . .  but not in front of the kids:

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Jack Carter and the Law by Ted Lewis (Alfred A. Knopf 1974)

Jimmy is wearing a neat red satin dressing gown but there's nothing neat about his face, foreshortened and distorted in my sights; he looks like an astronaut experiencing twenty Gs. The filth who's shepherding him out is superfluous. Jimmy really doesn't need any guidance, and as he hurries down the garden path away from the flames, to safety, I steady the rifle so that the cross is resting perfectly on the middle of Jimmy's furrowed forehead, and then I pull the trigger three times, and immediately the last bullet leaves the barrel I turn away and run back down the side of the house, and as I pass the open door I glance into the house but there is no sign of the man who'd been putting out the milk bottles. That's the trouble with the world today, I reflect. A lack of public spirit. Nobody seems to be prepared to have a go these days.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Time to say goodbye . . . .

. . .  to my email signature.

I guess eleven plus years is long enough:

Peter Saville (Enzo Cilenti): "The posters." 
Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan): "You've got the posters? It's the fucking gig!" 
Peter Saville: "Yeah, I know - it just took ages to get the right yellow." 
Tony Wilson: "The gig's over." 
Peter Saville: "I know." 
Tony Wilson: "It looks fucking great actually - yeah, really nice. It's beautiful - but useless. And as William Morris once said: "Nothing useless can be truly beautiful."' 
From Michael Winterbottom's '24 Hour Party People'

 I always enjoyed it more than other people.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Class Act

I am a lazy bastard when it comes to updating the blog - especially the 'booksiveread' section - which is shame because my two remaining readers miss out on such gems as this from Sue Townsend.

She was writing about this stuff in 1989. The intellectuals on the 'left' are only getting their head around this sort of stuff now twenty plus years later.

She really was my favourite sort of Labourite.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

A Masculine Ending by Joan Smith (Fawcett Crest Mystery 1987)

Loretta had decided to forgo a starter to give herself plenty of time to recount what had happened in Paris, as Tracey tucked into broad beans and artichoke hearts she gave him a bald account of everything she remembered about the weekend. Apart from a rather feeble joke about the Fem Sap conference—Tracey found any manifestation of organized feminism positively terrifying—he heard her out in silence. When she finished, he pushed away his empty plate and thought for a moment. Above their heads, the rain still drummed on the canvas of the canopy and splashed off on to the pavement.

"There really was a lot of blood?" he enquired at last. "Too much for the sheets to have been used to clean up after an accident? More than if someone had been having, er, a period?" He shifted uncomfortably in his seat.

Loretta suppressed an urge to smile. "Much more," she said.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


That moment you find a copy of a book for $2 in a bookshop when the cheapest copy available on the internet is $63. That.

Let me correct that. The only copy available on the internet is $63 . . . and, for all I know, it's in worse condition than the copy that I just picked up.

The copy I just picked up is falling to bits as I write and won't survive a second reading - like I ever read a book a second time - but I never thought I'd see a copy of the this most wanted book this side of winning the lottery. (And, trust me, I looked for it.)