Friday, March 30, 2012


Crouch's goal against Man City was good but this volley from AmaZulu FC's Thamsanqa Sangweni is sublime.

Hat tip to the Guardian Sports Blog.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Children of the Sun by Max Schaefer (Soft Skull Press 2010)

As he put his coat on Philip said, 'You know what you've done? Speaking of history: it's exactly what you've lost sight of. Nicky wasn't an Übermensch conjured up in a black mass on some moor. Skinheads were produced by socioeconomic circumstance, like every bloody thing else. The Blitz. The redevelopment of the East End, which dismantled old social networks. Post-war immigration. Teddy boys, mods and rockers, rude boys, hippies, punks. Unemployment. The collapse of the social contract.'
'I know that. It's why I was reading about the strikes. But it's not enough. It explains why people like Nicky existed but not what it was like to be Nicky.'
'Then focus on that. Not the bloody occult. Nicky's out with his mates and they start queer-bashing. What goes through his head? He's in a club and sees a black anda white man snogging. What does he think? No, fuck "think": what does he feel? Does he feel sick, does it turn him on? Both? What's it like to be Nicky in his body - fucking and fighting? But enough with the magick, because if one thing's obvious from that programme, Nicky was a very pedestrian kind of nazi.'
'What do you mean,' I said, '"was"?'
Philip stared at me.
'The Register Office can't find his death certificate.'
'Oh for God's sake.'
'Funny, though, isn't it? Look, all I'm saying is you can't separate ideas from reality that neatly. Ideas create reality. It's all connected.'
'Everything's fucking connected. We know that by now, surely? Chaos theory: you have a wank and there's an earthquake off Sumatra. Doesn't tell us anything, apart from maybe you should wank less. I think I'm drunk. Come on, darling,' he said to Tom. 'Let's go.'
pages 175-176
'All right Tony?'
'What are you doing here?'
'Coppers can't tell the difference can they?' says Glenn. 'All just skinheads to them.' He smiles. He has somehow got right next to Tony; he speaks quietly, but does not whisper.
Tony can't hack the look in his eyes and turns away. 'Wanker.'
'There's a few of us here, not just me. Well, we're on CCTV now aren't we, don't want to do nothing heavy. But the nice officers are going to walk us all outside for your safety and that. And there's no cameras out there.'
'You're a fucking race traitor Glenn.' Tony, because he doesn't know what would happen otherwise, collaborates in the conversational hush: they could be queuing at a supermarket checkout. 'You're worse than a fucking nigger.'
'If you like. I just wanted to tell you before it kicks off. There's a truce between us as far as I'm concerned. For old time's sake. But I can't speak for the other lads, so I'd run if I was you. When you get the chance. Is this bonehead wander a friend of yours?
He kicks both ankles of the man in front, who stiffens.
'Know him Tony do you?' mutters Glenn.
'Good, because when we get out of here he's dead. Did you hear me you daft nazi count?' Glenn kicks him again. 'When we get outside I'm going to kill you.' The man is visibly shaking.
Slowly the police begin to move the group towards the far end of the concourse. Beyond the cordon, watching reds yell taunts and insults. Some get a chant going, 'Police protect - nazi scum!,' until the objects of their criticism set dogs on them. Near the driveway for postal vans two men in donkey jackets conduct - amazingly - a paper sale. 'Buy a copy, officer?' one calls as the tense formation troops past. 'Read about how workers pay for the government failures. One pound solidarity price.' He waves it after them : Workers' Power', it says on a red background, and on black, hands off iraq!
Glenn mutters: 'How's your love life then?'
'Fuck off all right.'
'Touchy aren't you? Don't they know you're a poof these mates of yours?'
Tony says nothing. They are nearly at the closed-off bit where the new station is being built. In two minutes they will be outside.
'Bound to be some likely shags in this lot Tony. You know what these Europeans are like.'
From behind, Tony watches the face of the man Glenn has threatened to kill. He is listening; his pupil trembles against the corner of his eye.
'I can big you up if you like,' Glenn offers. 'You always were good in bed.'
The subdued shuffle of the skins' boots as they are herded sounds like rain against the roof.
'Better than Nicky if I had to be honest. To my taste anyway. Probably because in your own way you were even more fucked up. Did you see him on telly the other week? Bet that upset a few people.
pages 333-335

Sunday, March 25, 2012

True Believers by Joseph O'Connor (Sinclair Stevenson 1991)

I did meet one of his friends later on in the night. He saw her standing across the dance floor and beckoned her over. She mustn't have seen him. So he said he'd be back in a second and weaved through the gyrating bodies to where she was. They chatted for a few minutes, and then she came over and sat down. Shirley was a model. From Dublin too. Well, trying to make it as a model. She knew Bono really well. He was a great bloke, she said, really dead on. She'd known him and Ali for absolute yonks, and success hadn't changed them at all. 'Course, she hadn't seen them since Wembley last year. Backstage. They were working on the new album apparently. She'd heard the rough mixes and it was a total scorcher. This friend of hers played them to her. A really good friend of hers, actually, who went out with your man from The Hot House Flowers. The one with the hair. She kept forgetting his name. She said she was no good at all for Irish names. She really regretted it, actually, specially since she moved over here, but she couldn't speak a word of Irish. She let us buy her a drink each. I paid for Eddie's. Then she had to run. Early start tomorrow, had to be in the studio by eight-thirty.

'Ciao,' she said, when she went. 'Ciao, Eddie.'

from 'Last of the Mohicans'

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now, As Told by Those Who Love It, Hate It, Live It, Left It and Long for It by Craig Taylor (Harper Collins 2011)


Former Londoner

She has recently returned to Warsaw after spending a year working in a pub in Kilburn. Her voice through the telephone is raspy, and I can hear her daughter playing contentedly behind her.

I REMEMBER THE ENGLISH WEATHER, English cigarettes, gray skies, but sometimes beautiful skies, Oxford Street, Topshop. Irish men in my pub all day. They were so sad but also very funny, and also very respectful. They ask me what I was in London for. I said to them: money. I asked them what they came to London for. They said: money. They sit still for so long, all day, and some tell you things at the end of the night that you don’t want to hear. I remember the music, the light of the pub, the Guinness, the waiting for the Guinness. That was one of the first things I learned in London: to wait for the Guinness with them.

I would make time each day to call my daughter, Alexandra, who was four and living with my mother in Warsaw. I would text my mother to make sure it was a good time. It was hard to hear my daughter from so far away. She comes on the phone, she doesn’t always speak to me, and I said, “Come on, say something,” and there was her breathing and other small sounds but sometimes no words, and that is so hard to hear. Just sounds. It made me wonder if she knew it was me. She did. That is when you think, what am I doing in London? How much do I make? What do I have to do before I go home?

I remember the old churches, the London Eye, Shoot Up Hill, and many women who are well-dressed, though not in Kilburn. My money, my toothbrush, my mobile phone, my sim card, my makeup, my shampoo, some clothes, some clothes I never took out of my bag. Primrose Hill once for an afternoon. I ate my lunch there. The buses. Always listening to Polish people on the buses. They think that no one understands them.

“Where are you going?” they asked at the pub when I left, and I said, “I am going home.” They knew about my daughter because they sat in the pub all day. “Don’t leave us,” one man said t


CEO, Canary Wharf Group PLC

The Tower of London, that is the dividing line. William the Conqueror created the Tower: to the west was money and pleasure, and to the east was poverty, and it is still here. It tells the story of London, that for so long all this area had no transport. When we started building Canary Wharf in 1987, the Jubilee Line didn’t exist, and the DLR was just one line here and a bit of line going to the Isle of Dogs. That was the whole transport. How could it be that a city as rich as London has the whole eastern part of the town with no transport? How could you expect all these people to go to work? I mean it was a reservoir of cheap labor, but you didn’t even give them the opportunity to be slaves.

Today Canary Wharf is 15 million feet and there’s another 10 million feet to go. So it’s two and a half times the size that we looked at the first time. Canary Wharf is the most important thing to happen to London in the past one hundred years, and probably Crossrail is going to be the next one. It has an extension that goes to London Bridge, which makes a big difference; it starts creating the network of transport. We designed the Jubilee Line in such a way that it intersects with every other line. It is just two steps to come to Canary Wharf. Crossrail will change London forever, because a lot of the companies in Canary Wharf or in the City would like to use a lot of the manpower coming from the east. They are more economical, not having to pay the rents of Kensington, Chelsea, and Mayfair. And those areas have different salary expectations. So the labor force coming from the east is cheaper. The east of London will become the dormitory of London, because what London is missing is the Queens and the Brooklyn of New York. You don’t have a place where the nurses and the teachers and the policemen and the firefighters can live very close to the city. If they all have to travel two or three hours to get to work, how productive are they and how tired are they by the time they get home? So the east of London is going to be where all these things happen.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Favourite quote of the Left Forum weekend

He attributes it to someone else but I heard it from the lips of the DSA's Michael Hirsch:

"There is no such thing as spontaneity. It just means someone else has done all the organising."

I would have claimed that quote as my own, but that's just me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Death By Analysis by Gillian Slovo (The Women's Press Crime 1986)

Sam gave a long sigh. He put his face in his hands and groaned.

'Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. Unless you count the fact that one of my students asked me a penetrating question about the foliation of space which took me all of thirteen minutes to answer. I got five circulars, two of them identical and I had an argument in the canteen with a Spartacist while eating a soya-bean casserole.'

'You're in a bad way,' I said. 'Arguing with a Spart.'

'Yeah, well he tried to tell me that soya was a sop thrown at the working class to divert it from the struggle.'

'So how was it?'

The soya? Terrible. If that's a sop, then I think we're saved. Anyway, what time are we leaving?'

Thursday, March 08, 2012

What It Was by George Pelecanos (Back Bay Books 2012)

It was a Plymouth Fury, the GT Sport, a two-door 440 V-8 with hidden headlamps and a four-barrel carb. The color scheme was red over white, and its vanity plates read "Coco." White interior made it a woman's car. The bright finish and the personalized tags would render the vehicle easily identifiable around town, but Robert Lee Jons was unconcerned. To him it was important that he be remembered and that what he did got done with style.

Singing The Sadness by Reginald Hill (Thomas Dunne Books 1999)

Joe did not spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that God, who could easily have created him six foot six, rippling with muscles and coruscating with charisma, had opted instead for five foot five, a sagging waist, and social invisibility except maybe in a convention of white supremacists. What did gripe him a bit was there was no consistency. Man who could spend twenty minutes trying to catch the waiter's eye in a half-empty restaurant ought to be able to slip out of a crowded hospital ward without attracting attention, but the long eye of the law was not to be denied.

'Joe, where are you rushing off to?' said Prince, taking his elbow as he stepped into the corridor.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Born Guilty by Reginald Hill (St Martin's Press 1995)

'My oh my,' said Merv Golightly as Joe got into his taxi. 'It's a dressy up party, is it? Have to hurry, don't want you to be any later.'

'I'm not late,' protested Joe.

'Oh yes, you are. About thirty years in that suit, I'd say!'

Merv, who appreciated a good joke, especially his own, laughed at this one for the first five minutes of the journey. Even Joe had to admit there was a real point to it. What to wear at Willie Woodbine's party had exercised his mind greatly. The balding cord jacket was obviously out, though he had hopes if it got much smoother, it might eventually pass for a blazer in the dark with the light behind it. This left either the casual look, which meant his blue leather jerkin over a Gary Glitter T-shirt; or the formal look which meant his funeral, wedding, and choir performance suit.

It was a good suit. He'd had it so long it had come back into fashion twice, and there was hardly a mark on it. Unfortunately, with its broad lapels, slanting pockets, triple=buttoned jacket and seventeem-inch trousers with a two-inch turn, it was at the bottom of its fashion cycle just now.