Thursday, September 30, 2010

Little Green Man by Simon Armitage (Penguin Books 2001)

It was the start of the summer. I was sixteen. I got a job in a cardboard-box factory, worked eight till seven every day and Saturday mornings as well. It was a shit job with shit pay, but there was nothing else to do, and anyway I was saving up for America. Stubbs and the others, they'd still got a year to do. It was the holidays but I only saw them at night, a game of soccer in the schoolyard before it went dark or a bottle of cider in the bandstand. Then it was winter - they'd got their homework, I'd got my cardboard boxes. I was wishing my life away, waiting for my friends. Twelve months went by, until the day arrived. At three-thirty I turned up at the school gates with the same lighter. The summer stretched out in front. A summer like the year before last, the five of us going wild all over again. Then America, me and Stubbs and the rest if they wanted to come. Thumbing it from state to state. Occasional jobs. Getting into situations, getting out of scrapes. That was the plan, and today was the first day. I waited, but Stubbs didn't show. He'd sloped off across the playing fields. Like a traitor. And Tony Football went by on the top deck of a school bus, looking the other way. Like a thief. And Winkie was ill. I clenched the little green man in my fist, dug my nails into the jade. Only Pompous turned up, his blazer torn to shreds by the rest of the morons in his remedial set.

'Barney. Throw me the lighter.'

'Where are the others?'

'No idea.'

'Where's Stubbs? I told him I'd meet him here to do the business.'

'I don't know, all right? But he's not going to want his jacket tatching, is he?'

'Why not?'

Not if he's staying on next year. What's he going to come to school in - his vest?'

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"Slash it! Slash it!" High Five!

The second eleven:

  • Owen thinks he's Ron Swanson. We just wish he'd eat like Ron Swanson.
  • Firefox is doing my nut in. Nine out of ten masochists say it's their web browser of choice.
  • When I first heard that Ed Milliband was standing for the leadership of the Labour Party I immediately thought of the Guardian's Steve Bell. I'm not so daft after all.
  • My longstanding loathing of Chelsea is being seriously undermined at the moment by their current away kit. I haven't been enamoured this much by a football kit in a long time. In fact, it was probably the Inter Milan away kit from the late nineties that last caught my eye. And that was a nightmare as well; I had a soft spot for Roma at the time. Thankfully the rapaciousness and greed of modern football means that Chelski will replace all their kits at the end of the season, and that wee niggle can melt away. Only eight more months to hold out.
  • I wouldn't say no to the Caramac Kit Kat (number 29), but surely the editions from Japan are photoshopped? (hat tip to 'Itziko_Supersta' over at Urban 75.)
  • 'Therese' by The Bodines kicked into iTunes last night. I'd forgotten I didn't realise until now what a good record it was.
  • My last pair of glasses lasted me five years. And, then, it was only because the dog snapped the frames and I had to get them replaced. The frames of my current glasses have fallen apart after only three months. Apparently it's the fault of the manufacturer but I bet we still get fleeced by the opticians. It rains. It pours. A bastard tsunami is coming down Ocean Parkway.
  • Finally got round to watching the first series of Gavin and Stacey the other night. Only checked it out because it turned up on Netflix Instant. I know I'm supposed to hate it because of Corden - yep, I did try and watch one of his World Cup shows - but I totally understand why it met with the success that it did. Likeable characters. Easy going humour. And Ruth Jones is a star.
  • *Beep*Beep*Beep*Beep*
  • I totally get that quote of Churchill, of "It is all right to rat, but you can’t re-rat . . . ", but I have been listening to Maximo Park again in recent weeks and I'm not embarrassed to admit it. It'll be Hard-Fi next. (Spot my gift of footballing prophecy in that old blog post.)
  • Sheila Rowbotham is speaking in New York on Friday at Bluestockings. I should try and get along to hear her speak. I last saw her speak at Conway Hall in 1998. At a commemorative meeting for the Communist Manifesto. (150th anniversary and all that.) Standing room only in the main hall and packed balconies with the other speakers including Maggie Steed, Julie Christie and an actress from Eastenders whose name now escapes me.
  • Monday, September 27, 2010

    100 Best Scottish Books

    Following on from these two recent fiascos, I've finally found a book poll on the net where my reading count reaches double figures. It's sourced from The List, which is , I guess, Scotland's equivalent of Time Out and the article dates from 2005.

    Twenty-one out of a hundred is not a bad reading haul, and there's another twelve or thirteen books on the list that I'd like to read at some point.

    I thought it was a nice touch from the list compilers that they did not insist that the authors had to be Scottish by birth; just that the book listed had to have a strong Scottish connection. Hence, for example, the inclusion of Orwell's 1984 in the hundred, which was written on the Isle of Jura. (And, if you've ever read Orwell's collected essays and letters, his strong dislike of Scottish people is very apparent.)

    Each listed entry in the linked article has a wee synopsis and well worth further investigation, but I have posted below links to some of the more interesting entries. (Well interesting to me.)

  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark (1961)
  • Tunes of Glory - James Kennaway (1956)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan (1915)
  • Under the Skin - Michel Faber (2000)
  • Buddha Da - Anne Donovan (2003)
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater - Thomas De Quincey (1822)
  • King James Bible: Authorised Version - Various (1611)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  • The Divided Self - RD Laing (1960)
  • The Gowk Storm - Nancy Brysson Morrison (1933)
  • The Cone-Gatherers - Robin Jenkins (1955)
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  • Sunset Song - Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1932)
  • Born Free - Laura Hird (1999)
  • The Silver Darlings - Neil M Gunn (1941)
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson - James Boswell (1791)
  • Annals of the Parish - John Galt (1821)
  • Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (1902)
  • The House with the Green Shutters - George Douglas Brown (1901)
  • Lanark - Alasdair Gray (1981)
  • Paradise - AL Kennedy (2004)
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - James Hogg (1824)
  • Trumpet - Jackie Kay (1998)
  • Morvern Callar - Alan Warner (1995)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (1949)
  • Swing Hammer Swing! - Jeff Torrington (1992)
  • Hotel World - Ali Smith (2001)
  • Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh (1993)
  • The Trick is to Keep Breathing - Janice Galloway (1989)
  • Jericho Sleep Alone - Chaim Bermant (1964)
  • The Expedition of Humphry Clinker - Tobias Smollett (1771)
  • Lilith - George MacDonald (1895)
  • Imagined Corners - Willa Muir (1931)
  • Living Nowhere - John Burnside (2003)
  • Jelly Roll - Luke Sutherland (1998)
  • The White Bird Passes - Jessie Kesson (1958)
  • Young Adam - Alexander Trocchi (1954)
  • Rob Roy - Walter Scott (1818)
  • The Sea Road - Margaret Elphinstone (2000)
  • The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith (1776)
  • The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism - Tom Nairn (1977)
  • Consider the Lilies - Iain Crichton Smith (1968)
  • No Mean City: A Story of the Glasgow Slums - Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long (1935)
  • To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling (1997)
  • Madame Doubtfire - Anne Fine (1987)
  • Me and Ma Gal - Des Dillon (1995)
  • The Highland Clearances - John Prebble (1969)
  • A Concussed History of Scotland - Frank Kuppner (1990)
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding - David Hume (1748)
  • A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay (1920)
  • The Golden Bough - James Frazer (1890)
  • Grace Notes - Bernard MacLaverty (1997)
  • The Cutting Room - Louise Welsh (2002)
  • The Quarry Wood - Nan Shepherd (1928)
  • The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks (1984)
  • Brond - Frederic Lindsay (1984)
  • A Day at the Office - Robert Alan Jamieson (1991)
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson (1995)
  • The Dear Green Place - Archie Hind (1966)
  • Miss Marjoribanks - Margaret Oliphant (1866)
  • The Sound of My Voice - Ron Butlin (1987)
  • Flemington - Violet Jacob (1911)
  • Greenvoe - George Mackay Brown (1972)
  • The New Road - Neil Munro (1914)
  • Psychoraag - Suhayl Saadi (2004)
  • The Bull Calves - Naomi Mitchison (1947)
  • The Coral Island - R. M. Ballantyne (1858)
  • From Russia, With Love - Ian Fleming (1957)
  • A Disaffection - James Kelman (1989)
  • The Shipbuilders - George Blake (1935)
  • Our Fathers - Andrew O'Hagan (1999)
  • A Sense of Freedom - Jimmy Boyle (1977)
  • A Twelvemonth and a Day - Christopher Rush (1985)
  • The Lighthouse Stevensons - Bella Bathurst (1999)
  • Adam Blair - John Gibson Lockhart (1822)
  • But n Ben A-Go-Go - Matthew Fitt (2000)
  • The Siege of Trencher's Farm - Gordon Williams (1969)
  • The New Testament in Scots - trans. William Laughton Lorimer (1983)
  • The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett (1961)
  • Open the Door! - Catherine Carswell (1920)
  • The Lantern Bearers - Ronald Frame (1999)
  • An Oidhche Mus Do Sheòl Sinn - Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul (2003)
  • Children of the Dead End - Patrick MacGill (1914)
  • One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night - Christopher Brookmyre (1999)
  • The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (1908)
  • Garnethill - Denise Mina (1998)
  • Joseph Knight - James Robertson (2003)
  • The Magic Flute - Alan Spence (1990)
  • Electric Brae - Andrew Greig (1997)
  • The Guns of Navarone - Alistair MacLean (1957)
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
  • Mr Alfred, M.A. - George Friel (1972)
  • Sartor Resartus - Thomas Carlyle (1836)
  • Black and Blue - Ian Rankin (1997)
  • Scar Culture - Toni Davidson (1999)
  • Whisky Galore - Compton Mackenzie (1947)
  • The Citadel - AJ Cronin (1937)
  • For the Love of Willie - Agnes Owens (1998)
  • Docherty - William McIlvanney (1975)
  • Nip, tuck and more links for your buck

    The Socialism Or Your Money Back blog has had a facelift, and it looks the business. You should check it out. (A few glitches here and there but it wouldn't be the SPGB if there weren't a few glitches.)

    Recent posts of interest on the blog include:

  • Pocket Money - Tackling the taxation issue
  • The Stinking Rich - The Forbes Rich List needs an airing
  • Union busting - Lost in the supermarket.
  • 12 Reasons Why The Zeitgeist Movement Could Fail - Some SPGBers are getting all giddy about the Zeitgeist Movement. I guess it happens.
  • The Great Money Trick - A classic passage from Tressell's Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
  • And a regular feature of the Socialism Or Your Money Blog is the inclusion of articles from the Socialist Standard which have not previously been made available on the web.

    Articles of note include:

  • Report on Clydeside - Posted on the blog in the aftermath of the recent death of Jimmy Reid, an article from the December 1971 issue of the Socialist Standard.
  • Aneurin Bevan - Fifty years since the death of Bevan, and an article from the August 1960 issue of the Socialist Standard captures the charisma of the man.
  • Noam Chomsky - Rights & Lefties - And a more recent article from the August 1995 issue of the Socialist Standard. Not the total smackdown of Chomsky that some seasoned SPGB watchers might have expected. There are a few jabs in the piece but it's not wholly unsympathetic to Chomsky and where he's coming from. I guess the hostility clause was taking a time out that night.
  • Late news just in

    A mannequin dummy finished fourth in the Labour leadership election on Saturday night:

    Old NME quote of the day

    The Byrds . . . a Postcard Records connection . . . pop cynicism . . . the nugget compilations (which I haven't listened to in the longest time) . . . and 1981, which is still my favourite year for pop music . . . this quote has everything for a Monday morning:

    “We were all wound up in the Rough Trade Conditioning Syndrome, whereby you’re told that everyone on Rough Trade is ethically sound and morally very, very good; and that the people in the big corporations are evil ogres, bureaucrats and capitalists, bourgeois pigs. But once you meet those people you realize that they’re exactly the same as the people at Rough Trade—it’s just that their Kickers are newer… It’s stupid to stick to the sort of independent ideas that we had about 18 months ago. We can’t do it ourselves. I want to be able to sit back and say, well here’s 40 percent of a hit record – a decent song—and have someone else arrange it, produce it, get it played… That way you end up with ‘Mr Tambourine Man’. Only one Byrd actually played on it, but so what? It still stands up today as a great record. And if The Byrds had played on the single the way it had been written, then it would probably just have ended up as a track on the Nuggets album.” Alan Horne (NME, November 1981)

    From Simon Reynolds Rip It Up and Start Again: The Footnotes blog. Hat tip to Brian over at the Like Punk Never Happened blog.

    Friday, September 24, 2010


    Nothing like a bit good news for a Friday afternoon.
    Via my google alert for Denise Mina comes news of her next book, The End of the Wasp Season. Out next May, Amazon UK carries the following blurb for the book:
    When wealthy Sarah Erroll dies a violent death at her home in a posh part of Glasgow, the local community is stunned by what appears to be a truly gratuitous act. Heavily pregnant with desperately wanted twins, DS Alex Morrow is called in to investigate and soon discovers that there is more to Sarah's murder than it first seems. On the other side of town, Thomas Anderson is called into the headmaster's office at his boarding school to be told that his tyrannical father - a banker responsible for the loss of many livelihoods in the recession - has committed suicide by hanging himself from the old oak tree on the lawn of their home. Thomas returns to the family home to find his mother and sister in a state of numb shock. The head of the household is dead, yet their initial reaction is not that of grief, but relief. As Alex Morrow slowly unravels the connections between the two cases, she must also deal with the death of her own father and her brother's continuing criminal activities. Trying her hardest to disentangle herself from her family's disreputable history, she faces the challenge of an uninspired police force who have zero sympathy with Sarah Erroll, a middle-class victim who it appears was acting as an high class escort. Can Morrow solve the mystery of a cold-blooded murder without support? In THE END OF THE WASP SEASON she faces her greatest challenge yet as her work and home lives collide with potentially disastrous consequences.
    As Kara asked when I told her this morning, 'Does this mean there won't be any more Paddy Meehan books?'

    SPGB London Day School: 'Can You Buy Happiness?'

    Day School

    Saturday, 25th September from 12.00 noon

    Socialist Party premises,

    52 Clapham High St, SW4 7UN

    (nearest tube:Clapham North)

    Happy Shopper

    Ed Blewitt (Clinical Psychologist) will look how our understanding of happiness is closely related to consumerism. Ed’s talk on the ‘Happy shopper’ is taking a look at how the happiness industry developed in the 19th century in the form of the good life through to its modern guise of an ‘individual feeling’. This shift in the social perspective is compatible with the capitalist notion of an atomistic individual separated from society where the search for happiness is the individual’s goal in life.

    Manhattan for a handful of beads

    Peter Rigg (Analytical Psycho-therapist) He's titled his talk 'Manhattan for a handful of beads’ in a systematic approach which argues and illustrates how we’ve been sold consumerism in the form of cars, mobile phones, holidays, etc., in exchange for true democracy. Peter will be drawing a parallel between infantile functioning and consumer culture and between psychological maturity and democracy, besides touching on the illusion of being a sovereign consumer. In short, Peter will be putting consumerism on the couch!

    The consumption of capitalism

    Brian Johnson (retired Disability Counsellor) We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Keeping up with Jones’ but rarely established how such phrases have impacted on the social relationships within the family and wider society. Brian will investigate the social drives that set consumerism in motion with a thorough analysis on how consumerism affects all classes. His talk on ‘The consumption of capitalism’ delves into how consumerism is having an effect on our expectations and aspirations, lifestyles, perceptions of reality and much more.

    Refreshments will be available during the talks. There will be a social in the evening with some light musical entertainment by Peter Rigg along with food and drink. All in all this half day school promises to be an event full of insight; engaging and entertaining.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Heartland by Anthony Cartwright (Tindal Street Press 2009)

    Rob imagined that somewhere, in some run-down football club next to a rusting corned-beef factory in the back end of Argentina, there was a minor local politician proclaiming loudly the inevitability of an Argentinian goal. Sitting next to him, there'd be his nephew, a failed footballer, fidgeting in his seat, barely able to watch, sitting with his old man on the other side, a disabled Malvinas veteran or prisoner of the generals or an old team-mate of Maradona's or something, biting his nails, wondering just quite why and how some men that you didn't even know running around on a field on a different continent, some foot or hand of God, might somehow re-order the world, or at least re-order the world in you.

    Dyer want the rest o that, Rob? Jim motioned at the half-eaten burger and reached for it as Rob shook his head.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Separated At Birth?

    Languishing in the Draft Section (part III)

    This one dates from 11/01/07 (12:25). All the draft post consisted of was the above title post and the two jpegs. Henshall and the unknown doppleganger. No links, No text. No clues.

    I won't get a wink of sleep tonight wondering who it was in that jpeg which is now nothing more than a dead link. Looks like Dougie Henshall? That could be half the population of Paisley. The other half of Paisley looks like Milky from This Is England '86.

    One of few celebrity spots in my life was Dougie Henshall. A Thursday night in 2004. Tottenham Court Road tube station. Central Line. I only remember the particulars because it was this miraculous night and Henshall was in a retro Celtic top. He didn't look too happy at the time and I presumed (wrongly) that Celtic had got gubbed that night.

    Billiards in Heaven

    Languishing in the Draft Section (part II)

    And this one dates from 19/10/07 (21:50)

    No link. Nothing. Which is a shame 'cos I like that cartoonist's moxy.

    Posting penguins

    This image has been in the draft section of my blog since 23/07/04 (04:35 to be exact), and I don't know why.

    What's the life expectancy of penguins?

    Living in SSiN

    One for the Leftist Trainspotters amongst you: Socialist Organiser have their own entry in the Urban Dictionary!

    It begs the question: Why?

    Look Back And Wonder

    It's over twenty years since I read John Osbourne's Look Back In Anger, but have I really misremembered it this much?

    That trailer is like one of those Comic Strip spoofs from the mid-eighties. I keep expecting Peter Richardson and Ade Edmondson to turn up at any moment and gurn at the camera. What with him chewing up the scenery, I'm surprised Burton isn't playing Jimmy Porter on a bare sound stage.

    As the original uploader explains:

    "This is the [very] American trailer for the screen adaptation of John Osbourne's groundbreaking play Look Back in Anger.

    It misses the whole point of the play and the character of Jimmy Porter, but it is fascinating to watch.

    And yet for all its wrongheadedness that American trailer is still infinitely better than Branagh and Thompson's tv version from the late eighties.

    It turns out that the misery of the late eighties wasn't all just down to Thatcher, bad pop music and ill-designed Socialist Standard front covers.

    Denise Mina's Field of Blood

    Spotted via a google alert:

    "BBC Scotland is to bring the first of Glasgow crime writer Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan detective novels to the small screen next year.

    The Field of Blood, written and directed by David Kane, will begin filming next month and casting of the two-part production will be announced soon.

    The good news is that they're not adapting Denise Mina's Garnethill for the screen. I feel particularly precious about Maureen and Leslie, and I know in advance that I'll wince at whoever they cast for those particular parts in a screen adaptation. (I'm sure that adaptation is coming at some point, though).

    That's the good news.

    The bad news is that Field of Blood is being adapted for the screen by David Kane. The same bloke who brought the Rebus novels to the screen. That really doesn't bode well. And what with Scotland only having 17 working actors at any one time, we'll no doubt be seeing an overlap of actors from the Rebus adaptation in the tv version of Field of Blood.

    I hate to be unduly harsh to Kane - fingers crossed he's not one of those types who look themselves up on the internet - 'cos I love his original work for tv and film. His self-penned This Year's Love; Dream Baby; and a Shadow On The Earth were all wonderful but I had to switch Ken Stott's Rebus off after seven minutes. (It would have been five minutes but I had pins and needles at the time.)

    Fingers crossed. Happy to be proved wrong some time next year.

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    All Or Nothing (2002)

    September 2010 Socialist Standard

    September 2010 Socialist Standard


  • Make austerity history
  • Regular Columns

  • Pathfinders Taiga Taiga burning bright...
  • Cooking the Books 1 Overproduction or underconsumption?
  • Cooking the Books 2 Labour and labour-power
  • Material World Fascists Take Over Russian Communist Party
  • Greasy Pole Home Sweet (?) Home
  • 50 Years Ago Harry Pollitt
  • Main Articles

  • China’s working class drives capitalist development The heroic and inspiring struggles of China’s working class will only lay the ground for new and improved exploitation methods – unless, that is, the struggle turns political – and socialist.
  • A Socialist visits capitalist China Mainland China seen through the eyes of a socialist tourist.
  • What future for the Beautiful Island? A look at the other China.
  • For or Against Parliament? Violent overthrow of governments versus peaceful democratic elections.
  • Engels on Human Evolution Engels followed the impact of Darwin’s ideas more closely than Marx. He may even have read Darwin ‘The Descent of Man’.(concluding article of a three part series)
  • Letters, Book Reviews and Meetings

  • Letters to the Editors: Living Wage; Imperialism; Pete Seeger again
  • Book Reviews: Agrofuels: Big Profits, Ruined Lives and Ecological Destruction. By François Houtart. (Pluto Press);For All the Tea in China. By Sarah Rose (Arrow Books)
  • Socialist Party Meetings: Clapham, Chiswick & Manchester:
  • Voice From The Back

  • Behind The Fine Words; Progressing Backwards; Half A Million Homeless; "Humanitarian" Slaughter; The Growth Of Inequality; Bargain Basement Exploitation
  • Saturday, September 18, 2010

    Laundry List

    I haven't posted a Random25 on the blog for a while.

    The post title is self-explanatory. The songs below are what the iPod shuffle threw my way whilst I was doing the laundry a couple of days back.

    Not a bad selection of tracks. Pretty mainstream which reflects the music on my iPod at the moment. I probably should shake it up a bit. Probably the most obscure band in the list is the post-punkish New Age. I know absolutely nothing about them, short of the fact that there's nothing about them on the internet and they're better than seventy-five per cent of the bands that Simon Reynolds gushes over in Rip It Up.

    Oh yeah, click to enlarge . . . and to enrage.

    The Hospital (1971)

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    A Peace Envoy from Polmadie

    It's getting repetitive but I can't resist another YouTube clip via the good folk at Urban 75.

    Absolutely hilarious and, as the uploader on YouTube points out, beware of the:

    ". . . dangers of running clips of people with strong Scots accents without checking what they're saying. BBC North West Tonight, 6.30pm, September 14."

    Hat tip to 'Strung Out'.

    Nothing to Braga about

    Before you groan too much at my piss poor pun in the post title, get your laughing gear around this tribute to Arsenal from . . . ahem, The Away Boyz.

    You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll swear that it's so awful that all involved must be season ticket holders at White Hart Lane.

    And did you spot the 'celebrities' in the video? Peter Hugo Daley (Mick the drummer from Breaking Glass); Lee Whitlock (it's a few years since Shine On Harvey Moon); and was that Charlie Creed-Miles on the drums in the pub? I guess Spike Lee was washing Nick Hornby's hair that day.

    Hat tip to 'Fedayn' over at Urban 75 for the blood now pouring from both my eyes and my ears.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Bloomsbury 100 Must-Read Crime Novels

    Ok, let's see how I do with this list from Bloomsbury of the top 100 must-read crime novels that I just found via google.
    If it's crossed out, it means I've read it:

  • Asesinato en el Comitè Central by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán
  • Beast in View by Margaret Millar
  • The Beast Must Die by Nicholas Blake
  • The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  • Black and Blue by Ian Rankin
  • The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
  • The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
  • The Bottoms by Joe R. Lansdale
  • The Bridge Wore Black by Cornell Woolrich
  • The Case of the Terrified Typist by Erle Stanley Gardner
  • The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh
  • Come away, death by Gladys Mitchell
  • Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters
  • Dark Passage (Film Ink Series) by David Goodis
  • Dead Calm by Charles Williams
  • Dead Cert by Dick Francis
  • Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
  • The Dead of Jericho by Colin Dexter
  • The Deadly Percheron by John Franklin Bardin
  • Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
  • The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald
  • Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
  • The Devil's Home on Leave (Factory 2) by Derek Raymond
  • Dialogues of the Dead by Reginald Hill
  • Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
  • Downriver (The Amos Walker Series #9) by Loren D. Estleman
  • The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown
  • The Face on the Cutting Room Floor (Classic Crime) by Cameron McCabe
  • Fadeout by Joseph Hansen
  • Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
  • Fast One by Paul Cain
  • A Fatal Inversion by Ruth Rendell
  • A Firing Offense by George P. Pelecanos
  • Flinch by Robert Ferrigno
  • The Fools in Town Are on Our Side by Ross Thomas
  • Four Corners of Night by Craig Holden
  • The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
  • The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett
  • God Save the Child by Robert B. Parker
  • Gone, No Forwarding by Joe Gores
  • Hamlet, revenge! by Michael Innes
  • The Hunter by Richard Stark
  • The Ice House by Minette Walters
  • In a Dry Season by Peter Robinson
  • Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky
  • The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
  • A Is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  • The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  • Kiss Me, Deadly by Mickey Spillane
  • LaBrava by Elmore Leonard
  • The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley
  • Laura by Vera Caspary
  • The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout
  • Maigret Sets a Trap by Georges Simenon
  • Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles
  • The Man Who Liked to Look at Himself by K. C. Constantine
  • The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
  • The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Miami Blues by Charles Willeford
  • The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
  • The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  • The Moving Target by Ross Macdonald
  • The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin
  • A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie
  • Murder on the Yellow Brick Road by Stuart M. Kaminsky
  • The mystery of a hansom cab by Fergus Hume
  • The Mystery Of The Yellow Room by Gaston Leroux
  • Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
  • The Neon Rain by James Lee Burke
  • The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • No Orchids for Miss Blandish by James Hadley Chase
  • Off With His Head by Ngaio Marsh
  • One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters
  • Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
  • A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes
  • Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
  • Roman Blood by Steven Saylor
  • Sadie When She Died by Ed McBain
  • Sidetracked by Henning Mankell
  • The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Smallbone Deceased by Michael Gilbert
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
  • A Taste for Death by P. D. James
  • Tell No One by Harlan Coben
  • A Thief of Time by Tony Hillerman
  • The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr
  • A Three-Pipe Problem by Julian Symons
  • The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham
  • Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen
  • Trent's Last Case by E.C. Bentley
  • Uncivil Seasons by Michael Malone
  • Under Cover of Daylight by James W. Hall
  • Under the Bright Lights by Daniel Woodrell
  • An Unkindness of Ravens by Ruth Rendell
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block
  • When the Wind Blows by Cyril Hare
  • Who in Hell Is Wanda Fuca? by G. M. Ford
  • Of the one hundred books listed I've only read eight of them! That is woeful.
    I didn't look at the list prior to scrolling down it and scoring through those books that I've read. I thought there would be at least twenty books on the list that I've read. Blogging life was so much simpler with 365Watch.

  • A Three-Pipe Problem by Julian Symons
  • Miami Blues by Charles Willeford
  • LaBrava by Elmore Leonard
  • Dark Passage (Film Ink Series) by David Goodis
  • The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
  • The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson
  • A wee tap on the shoulder . . .

    . . . . and a whisper in the ear of, 'You've not read enough'.

    That's the shiver I get when I stumble across book polls like the recent one conducted by NPR.

    Seventeen thousand readers/listeners/viewers - what exactly do people do with NPR? - voted on their favourite 'Killer Thrillers' and, of the Top 100 listed, it turns out I've read a grand total of 2 of them.

    Every other book I read is crime fiction, and it turns out I've been reading the wrong ones. Granted I've probably seen the film versions of about 20 of the books listed but that won't win me any kudos amongst the Ditmas Park literati.

    There's only one solution. No, not actually knuckle down and read some of the works listed . . . find another crime fiction top 100 poll more in tune with my reading tastes. It'll be out there somewhere. Even if I have to create a bogus one myself.

    An Englishman in the Dock

    I'm sure you'll agree that it's the popular front we can all get behind.

    Don't worry about the proposed charge. Once Sting's in custody we can charge him with his real crimes. (Scroll down to the bottom of the linked post where Andy Partridge is in conversation with Todd Bernhardt.)

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Strip Jack by Ian Rankin (Minotaur Books 1992)

    'Are you an Inspector of Hospitals?' he asked.

    'No, sir, I'm a police inspector.'

    'Oh.' His face dulled a little. 'I thought maybe you'd come to . . . they don't treat us well here, you know.' He paused. 'There, because I've told you that I'll probably be disciplined, maybe even put into solitary. Everything, any dissension, gets reported back. But I've got to keep telling people, or nothing will be done. I have some influential friends, Inspector.' Rebus thought this was for the nurse's ears more than his own. 'Friends in high places . . .'

    Well, Dr Forster knew that now, thanks to Rebus.

    ' . . . friends I can trust. People need to be told, you see. They censor our mail. They decide what we can read. They won't even let me read Das Kapital. And they give us drugs. The mentally ill, you know, by whom I mean those who have been judged to be mentally ill, we have less rights than the most hardened mass murderer . . . hardened but sane mass murderer. Is that fair? Is that . . . humane?'

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Insert Tears For Fears album track title here

    Curt Smith from Tears For Fears does a hilarious turn in last week's episode of Psych.

    It shouldn't work but it does . . .

    Tuesday, September 07, 2010

    Scully and Mooey by Alan Bleasdale (Corgi Books 1984)

    'A little blasphemy won't send you packin' t'Hell, Mrs Scully.'

    "If it does, there's a lot of people who've done us down I'd like t'meet there. We were brought up in the Depression, me an' his dad, an' then through the blitz an' bloody ration books, an' that joker with his 'y've never had it so good'; aye f'them what's always had it. An' then a few good years just t'trick yer into thinkin' things're goin' t'work out alright, before the world turns around an' hits y'kids in the face. It's never them at the top what suffer though, it's us down here what have t'go through it, as far as I can see. An' whatever the politicians say, it's always goin' t'be the same. It all comes back t'those that can least afford it.'

    Sunday, September 05, 2010

    Boiling A Frog by Christopher Brookmyre (Abacus 2000)

    Given her pedigree, she was also a Tory target for accusations of selling out in endorsing Tony Blair's reforms. She had become yet another New Labour robot, they said, and had betrayed everything her father stood for simply to further her own career. Yeah, sure, and the band played "Believe it if You Like'. Labour politicians had always been accused of abandoning their principles in pursuit of power, since long before Tony Blair appeared on the scene. It was part of the Tories' time served pincer-movement strategy: if you took a hard line you were a dangerous lefty out to wreck the economy; if you softened your position, you were an unprincipled chancer who'd do anything for a sniff of power. The Tories knew they'd never face the same charge because they didn't have any principles in the first place. How do you ideologically compromise a stance built on greed, materialism and xenophobia?

    Consequently, she didn't mourn Clause Four's passing. Holding on to it was a futile gesture of stubborn and misguided faith, like wearing the medal of some mediaeval saint whose canonisation had been rescinded. It was an anachronism and an impossible dream, but far more damaging, it was also a stick with which their enemies had too often beaten them.

    Compromise was always depicted as a political sin by those in the grandstand. Those in the game knew that politics is compromise. If you want a party that believes in all the things you do, and with which you disagree on nothing, you'll have to start it yourself, and the membership is extremely unlikely ever to exceed single figures. In binary.

    Saturday, September 04, 2010

    SPGB Meeting: Hunter, Fisherman, Shepherd and Critic

    One for your diary:

    And the accompanying blurb:

    Hunter, Fisherman, Shepherd, Critic: Karl Marx's Vision of the Free Individual

    A lot of nonsense is talked about Karl Marx, most of it from people who have never read him.

    Many consider his work to be discredited by the dictatorial regimes that were set up in his name. But what did Karl Marx actually have to say?

    Was he in favour of dictatorship? Did he think that the state should impose dull uniformity, rigid regimentation and boring work on its citizens? Did he think that human nature and talents should be suppressed in the name of equality and altruism and for the benefit of a collectivity?

    No. In fact, Karl Marx's driving passion his whole life was the free development of the individual. Karl Marx was not opposed to the capitalist ideas of choice, liberty and individual freedom. He supported the ideas, but opposed the society that prevented them becoming a reality.

    He wanted to be able "to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic".

    In this talk, we will consider whether Karl Marx's vision of the free individual is just an idle dream, or something that could actually be achieved. And if so, how?

    Speaker: Stuart Watkins

    All welcome.

    Free entry. Free discussion. Free refreshments.

    I'm sure it will be an excellent talk. The speaker at the meeting is an excellent writer for both the Socialist Standard, and his personal blog, Big Chief Tablets.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010

    A Firing Offense by George P. Pelecanos (Serpent's Tail 1992)

    I first met Karen in a bar in Southeast, a new wave club near the Eastern Market run by an Arab named Haddad whom everyone called HaDaddy-O.

    This was late in '79 or early in 1980, the watershed years that saw the debut release of the Pretenders, Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks, and Elvis Costello's Get Happy, three of the finest albums ever produced. That I get nostalgic now when I hear "You Can't Be Too Strong" or "New Amsterdam" or when I smell cigarette smoke in a bar or feel sweat drip down my back in a hot club, may seem incredible today - especially to those who get misty-eyed over Sinatra, or even at the first few chords of "Satisfaction" - but I'm talking about my generation.