Friday, May 27, 2011

Steak . . . Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody by David McVay (The Parrs Wood Press 2003)


Sunday, 3rd March, 1974
The game, though, falls into the Twilight Zone. Eric Probert, Arthur Mann shut down the supply route to the front men. John Robertson and Ian Bowyer aren't getting time to exert their considerable talents on the game. For a quarter of an hour, nothing happens, literally. The crowd is silent, not baying or taunting, more dozing off after a good Sunday lunch.
"For Christ's sake David, get a fucking tackle in on him." It is Don Masson; Masson the Miserable, Masson the Merciless, our leader. He's right, of course. Despite being a most obnoxious piece of work and about as popular as a turd arising in the communal bath, he's absolutely effing right.
Must clobber the flash bastard. Supposed to man-to-man mark him and haven't even seen his backside yet. The game's just passing me by. Come on, get a grip. Here's the ball, there's McKenzie - whack. That was easy.
"Well done Davie. Well fucking done son. That's fucking better, eh." Masson the Merciless has passed judgement. I have pleased our leader. I feel 10ft tall. McKenzie looks hurt as if to say: "Who the hell are you to kick me you fat bastard?"
I don't care. Today, the Notts County shirt seems a liitle loose and baggy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

This Little Ziggy by Martin Newell (House of Stratus 2001)

We have no extradition treaties with the past. That is, we can't bring our younger selves back into the present to account for our doings there. At best, all we may have are a few scribbled notes on faded paper and perhaps a handful of faded Polaroids to tell us that events ever really happened at all. These recollections begin in the late summer of 1964 and end in the early spring of 1975. They are not, therefore, an autobiography as such.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Inspector Ghote Caught in Meshes by H. R. F. Keating (Penguin Books 1967)

The three men had been sprawled there in the shade of the big Flame of the Forest for nearly two hours, but although it was very hot and almost intolerably muggy they had not slept. There was a feeling of tension behind their air of easy-going relaxedness. It showed in the way every now and again one of them would check over his gun.

The Sikh in the orange turban had an American self-loading Garand rifle and the other two had revolvers, one a British Army officer's issue Webley and the other a much abused Smith and Wesson dating from the early years of the century. This last was hardly reliable at a range over five yards, but none of the three expected to use it at even this distance.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (Anchor Canada 2008)

Was there a kind of lottery (Reggie imagined a tombola) where God picked out your chosen method of going - 'Heart attack for him, cancer for her, let's see, have we had a terrible car crash yet this month?' Not that Reggie believed in God, but it was interesting sometimes to imagine. Did God get out of bed one morning and draw back the curtains (Reggie's imaginary God led a very domesticated life) and think, 'A drowning in a hotel swimming pool today, I fancy. We haven't had that one in a while.'

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Kyle kills Killies

You know something's strangely amiss when Lafferty scores a hat trick in a competitive match.

It'll make Kilmarnock's late come back all the sweeter.

You're Killie Me

An act of mercy for all concerned?

More likely a disgruntled Celtic fan depriving ex-pat R*ngers fans in Canada, Australia and Penzance their moment of celebration in front of the computer screen.

Five minutes in . . . .

Kilmarnock 0 Rangers 3

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hazell and the Three-Card Trick by P.B Yuill (Penguin Books 1975)

The pub Minty chose was rough even by Hammersmith standards. Of course there's good parts and bad parts of Hammersmith. This pub was as bad as any going.

Minty was already at the slopping bar when I pushed through the dingy saloon door.

It wasn't rough meaning violent - just horrible. The paper was coming off the walls in damp patches and the decor was like an old railway waiting-room with one difference. The lighting. I've never been in such a brightly-lit boozer. It was glaring.

The staff was an Irish bloke about twenty-five. He had the beer gut of a much older man. It was straining against a grey vest that in its turn was trying to pop out where his shirt buttons were missing.

From his pained movements and sharp sighs and groans it was possible he was suffering the worst hangover since Pisa. He hadn't shaved that day, although that was hardly likely to upset the clientele.,/p>

Actually I feel sorry for the Irish who come over here to wear big letters on their backs. They generally leave the wife at home on holy soil and only see her at Xmas to father next year's crop. In between Xmases they doss down in cheap rooms and send the wife's money home by postal order and drink themselves silly to fill up the void.

Thumping each other and kicking Chinese waiters is about the height of their swinging lives. They don't seem to have much interest in the local women and they tend to stick to their own pubs. 'It's gone Irish,' you'll hear people say about a rub-a-dub that's been taken over by the big men with the pixie ears. It's not meant as a recommendation.

I say sorry but not enough to want ten of them home for a cooked meal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ten Bloody Murders

  • Miami Blues by Charles Willeford
  • I forgot. The above score makes ten.

    Hazell Plays Solomon by P. B. Yuill (Penguin Books 1974)

    Back at Claridges they tried Mrs Gunning's suite again. No joy. I sat in the lounge and read the Standard. A loud cross-section of rich America trailed back and forth from the door to the desk.

    I crossed my legs a lot. Nothing much was happening in the papers, a wages gang had got away with £89,000 in Pinner, London's new Labour bosses were planning radical moves but not now, an old widow had been raped and strangled in Camden Town, David Frost had a new girl, Battersea basements had been flooded by a cloudburst, new revelations were rocking the White House, the London football managers were again guaranteeing brighter soccer to bring back the missing millions, Centre Point was still empty, a teenager had been stabbed to death on his own doorstep, more old buildings were to come down to make way for more empty office blocks, London airport customs had pounced on cannabis worth £800,000 while London airport police were looking for a stolen consignment of diamonds worth £300,000. Oh yes, and our trade figures were the best for ten years. Or the worst, I can't remember.

    Seeing it was dry again I went out and had a stroll round the interior of Mayfair. Wealthy middle-aged people brayed to each other in the entrances to restaurants that didn't have price menus outside. There's class for you. Uniformed chauffeurs relaxed with cigarettes in their masters' Rolls-Royces. A covey of bright young things in society gear whinnied on a balcony.

    I knew they couldn't be real society. I mean, nobody hangs around dreary London in August, Jeremy. They didn't even chuck plovers' eggs at me.

    Monday, May 09, 2011

    Character Parts by John Mortimer (Penguin Books 1986)

    'But there was no election for leader. It was all done by word of mouth?'

    'Word of mouth. Yes. All sorts of strange things were happening. Ted Heath went up to Scotland and for the first time in his life he shot a stag! Can you imagine that?' Lord Hailsham was laughing again. 'I think Ted Heath was Warwick the Kingmaker.'

    'Was it all a great disappointment to you?'

    'Not at all! I was just not selected. It must have been much worse for Ted Heath, To be chosen and then de-stooled. In the presence of the tribe! To be de-stooled.' His lips pursed in a long and hilarious double 'o'. 'What a terrible humiliation.'

    'Besides which I've known all the recent Prime Ministers and not one of them died happy in his bed. Except Macmillan. Yes. I think he'll die quite happy.'

    'Is Macmillan a wonderful actor in the House of Lords?'

    Of course. The old boy's a superb performer. But when he was Prime Minister he was always rather piano. Rather quiet and understated. And you know why? The best of his generation was killed in the 1914 war. And he could see their ghosts looking down at him from an imaginary gallery, all saying, "Look down there. It's little Harold! They've made him Prime Minister, and we were cleverer than him." That made Macmillan rather quiet.'

    Wednesday, May 04, 2011

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    City of Thieves by David Benioff (Plume Book 2008)

    "One of the most beautiful passages in literature, you know. His professor had been a famous writer back in his day, but now he's completely forgotten. Radchenko feels ashamed for the old man. He watches him through his bedroom window - Radchenko never leaves his apartment; remember, he hasn't left in seven years - he watches the professor walk out of sight, kicking at the pigeons and cursing them." Kolya cleared his throat and switched to his declamatory tone. "Talent must be a fanatical mistress. She's beautiful; when you're with her, people watch you, they notice. But she bangs on your door at odd hours, and she disappears for long stretches, and she has no patience for the rest of your existence: your wife, your children, your friends. She is the most thrilling evening of your week, but some day she will leave you for good. One night, after she's been gone for years, you will see her on the arm of a younger man, and she will pretend not to recognize you."

    Kolya's apparent immunity to exhaustion aggravated and amazed me. I could keep moving only by sighting a distant tree and promising myself that I would not quit before I reached it - and when we got to that tree, I would find another and swear this was the last one. But Kolya seemed capable of traipsing through the woods, orating with a stage whisper, for hours at a time.