Monday, May 27, 2019

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (Profile Books 2017)

Would I like to be a bookseller de métier? On the whole – in spite of my employer’s kindness to me, and some happy days I spent in the shop – no.
George Orwell, ‘Bookshop Memories’, London, November 1936
Orwell’s reluctance to commit to bookselling is understandable. There is a stereotype of the impatient, intolerant, antisocial proprietor – played so perfectly by Dylan Moran in Black Books – and it seems (on the whole) to be true. There are exceptions of course, and many booksellers do not conform to this type. Sadly, I do. It was not always thus, though, and before buying the shop I recall being quite amenable and friendly. The constant barrage of dull questions, the parlous finances of the business, the incessant arguments with staff and the unending, exhausting, haggling customers have reduced me to this. Would I change any of it? No.

Hinterland by Chris Mullin (Profile Books 2016)

It was some time before I had any further contact with Blair. Then, in November 1994, he invited me to his office and asked if I would be willing to go on the front bench. This was not the first time I had been asked (I was by now very respectable). As long ago as 1992 John Smith had asked me to be housing spokesman and I had declined in favour of remaining on the Home Affairs Select Committee. Blair talked of ‘pepping up’ the front bench and giving it a radical edge. ‘So many of the left are …’

‘Impossibilists,’ I said.

‘I was going to say “conservative”. Their idea of being radical is to defend the status quo.’ An astute observation and one that was hard to deny. The Labour left at this time had few new ideas beyond repealing the Tory trade union laws (some of which were sensible and popular) and reversing all changes in the management of the NHS, regardless of whether or not they made sense.

Sunday, May 26, 2019


Some kind soul posted the Euro-Election results for Oxford a few minutes ago. Still no sign of the SPGB surge. Maybe next year, Rodders:

The Clapping Song . . .

 . . . I don't give a four-x for the Pelosi-Trump spat but I'm typing this whilst standing and simultaneously applauding on what is an amazing piece of jiggery-technology-pokery.

Conviction by Denise Mina (Harvill Secker 2019)

When we met I was Anna, the new office temp from Somewhere-Outside-of-Aberdeen. I chose Hamish quite carefully. I did love him, I must say that, and I still do, sometimes. But I deliberately picked an older man with money and status. A declamatory man, full of facts and opinions. He was the perfect hide.

Hamish was born in that house and had never lived anywhere else. His family had been on or near the Scottish judiciary for two hundred years. He didn’t much like foreign travel. He read only Scottish writers. That seemed so weird to me. I think I found it a little exotic.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Lock No. 1 by Georges Simenon (Penguin Books 1933)

Berthe gave a heavy sigh. He gave her a baleful look. It was none of her business! He was not worried about either her or his wife!

‘Do you understand, old friend? Oh, say something!’

He walked round and round Gassin, not daring to look at him directly and leaving lengthy pauses between sentences.

‘But all in all, of us two, you were the happy one!’

Despite the chill of night, he felt hot.

‘Shall I give you the dynamite back? I don’t care if I get blown up. But somebody’s got to stay with the kid, on the barge.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Georges Simenon's Maigret

Nicked from wiki. I need this to get back on board my deferred Maigret Read-a-thon. The usual rules: striked out titles means I've already read the book in the series.

List of Maigret novels with date of French-language publication as well as the Penguin reissue dates and titles.[3]
TitleDatePenguin UK Reissue DateReissue #Reissue TitleOther English title(s)
Pietr-le-Letton19317 Nov 20131Pietr the LatvianThe Strange Case of Peter the Lett
The Case of Peter the Lett
Maigret and the Enigmatic Lett
Le Charretier de la Providence19316 Feb 20144The Carter of La ProvidenceThe Crime at Lock 14
Maigret Meets a Milord
Lock 14
M. Gallet décédé19315 Dec 20132The Late Monsieur GalletThe Death of Monsieur Gallet
Maigret Stonewalled
Le Pendu de Saint-Pholien19312 Jan 20143The Hanged Man of Saint-PholienThe Crime of Inspector Maigret
Maigret and the Hundred Gibbets
La Tête d'un homme
(L'Homme de la Tour Eiffel)
19315 Jun 20149A Man's HeadA Battle of Nerves
Maigret's War of Nerves
Le Chien jaune19316 Mar 20145The Yellow DogA Face for a Clue
Maigret and the Concarneau Murders
Maigret and the Yellow Dog
La Nuit du carrefour19313 Apr 20146Night at the CrossroadsMaigret at the Crossroads
The Night at the Crossroads
Un Crime en Hollande19311 May 20147A Crime in HollandMaigret in Holland
Au Rendez-vous des Terre-Neuves19315 Jun 20148The Grand Banks CafeThe Sailors' Rendezvous
Maigret Answers a Plea
La Danseuse du Gai-Moulin19317 Aug 201410The Dancer at the Gai MoulinAt the Gai Moulin
Maigret at the Gai Moulin
La Guinguette à deux sous19324 Sep 201411The Two-Penny BarGuinguette by the Seine
Maigret and the Tavern by the Seine
Maigret to the Rescue
A Spot by the Seine
The Bar on the Seine
L'Ombre chinoise19322 Oct 201412The Shadow PuppetThe Shadow in the Courtyard
Maigret Mystified
L'Affaire Saint-Fiacre19326 Nov 201413The Saint-Fiacre AffairMaigret and the Countess
Maigret Goes Home
Maigret on Home Ground
Chez les Flamands19324 Dec 201414The Flemish ShopMaigret and the Flemish Shop
The Flemish House
Le Port des brumes19325 Feb 201516The Misty HarbourDeath of a Harbour Master
Maigret and the Death of a Harbor Master
The Port of Shadows
Le Fou de Bergerac19321 Jan 201515The Madman of Bergerac
Liberty Bar19325 Mar 201517Liberty BarMaigret on the Riviera
L'Écluse nº 119332 Apr 201518Lock No. 1The Lock at Charenton
Maigret Sits It Out
La femme rousse1933The Redhead
Maigret19347 May 201519MaigretMaigret Returns
La Maison du juge19426 Aug 201522The Judge's HouseMaigret in Exile
Les Caves du Majestic19422 Jul 201521The Cellars of the MajesticMaigret and the Hotel Majestic
The Hotel Majestic 
Cécile est morte19424 Jun 201520Cecile is DeadMaigret and the Spinster
Signé Picpus19443 Sep 201523Signed, PicpusMaigret and the Fortuneteller
Félicie est là19445 Nov 201525FélicieMaigret and the Toy Village
L'Inspecteur Cadavre19441 Oct 201524Inspector CadaverMaigret's Rival
Maigret se fâcheAugust 19453 Dec 201526Maigret Gets AngryMaigret in Retirement
Maigret à New YorkMarch 19467 Jan 201627Maigret in New YorkInspector Maigret in New York's Underworld
Maigret in New York's Underworld
Les Vacances de MaigretNovember 19474 Feb 201628Maigret's HolidayA Summer Holiday
No Vacation for Maigret
Maigret on Holiday
Maigret et son mortJanuary 19483 Mar 201629Maigret's Dead ManMaigret's Special Murder
La Première enquête de Maigret, 1913October 19487 Apr 201630Maigret's First Case
Mon ami MaigretFebruary 19495 May 201631My Friend MaigretThe Methods of Maigret
Maigret chez le coronerJuly 19492 Jun 201632Maigret at the Coroner's
L'Amie de Mme MaigretDecember 19494 Aug 201634Madame Maigret's FriendMadame Maigret's Own Case
The Friend of Madame Maigret
Les Mémoires de MaigretSeptember 19501 Sep 201635Maigret's Memoirs
Maigret et la vieille dameDecember 19507 Jul 201633Maigret and the Old Lady
Maigret au "Picratt's"December 19506 Oct 201636Maigret at Picratt'sMaigret and the Strangled Stripper
Maigret in Montmartre
Inspector Maigret and the Strangled Stripper
Maigret en meubléFebruary 19513 Nov 201637Maigret Takes a RoomMaigret Rents a Room
Maigret et la grande percheMay 19511 Dec 201638Maigret and the Tall WomanInspector Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
Maigret and the Burglar's Wife
Maigret, Lognon et les gangstersSeptember 19515 Jan 201739Maigret, Lognon and the GangstersInspector Maigret and the Killers
Maigret and the Gangsters
Le Revolver de MaigretJune 19522 Feb 201740Maigret's Revolver
Maigret et l'homme du banc19532 Mar 201741Maigret and the Man on the BenchMaigret and the Man on the Boulevard
The Man on the Boulevard
Maigret a peurMarch 19536 Apr 201742Maigret is AfraidMaigret Afraid
Maigret se trompeAugust 19534 May 201743Maigret's Mistake
Maigret à l'écoleDecember 19531 Jun 201744Maigret Goes to School
Maigret et la jeune morteJanuary 19546 Jul 201745Maigret and the Dead GirlInspector Maigret and the Dead Girl
Maigret and the Young Girl
Maigret chez le ministreAugust 19543 Aug 201746Maigret and the MinisterMaigret and the Calame Report
Maigret et le corps sans têteJanuary 19557 Sep 201747Maigret and the Headless Corpse
Maigret tend un piègeJuly 19555 Oct 201748Maigret Sets a Trap
Un échec de MaigretMarch 19562 Nov 201749Maigret's Failure
Maigret s'amuseSeptember 19567 Dec 201750Maigret Enjoys HimselfMaigret's Little Joke
None of Maigret's Business
Maigret voyageAugust 19574 Jan 201851Maigret TravelsMaigret and the Millionaires
Les scrupules de MaigretDecember 19571 Feb 201852Maigret's DoubtsMaigret Has Scruples
Maigret et les témoins récalcitrantsOctober 19581 Mar 201853Maigret and the Reluctant Witnesses
Une confidence de MaigretMay 19595 Apr 201854Maigret's SecretMaigret Has Doubts
Maigret aux assisesNovember 19593 May 201855Maigret in Court
Maigret et les vieillardsJune 19607 Jun 201856Maigret and the Old PeopleMaigret in Society
Maigret et le voleur paresseuxJanuary 19615 Jul 201857Maigret and the Lazy BurglarMaigret and the Lazy Burglar
Maigret and the Idle Burglar
Maigret et les braves gensSeptember 19612 Aug 201858Maigret and the Good People of MontparnasseMaigret and the Black Sheep
Maigret et le client du samediFebruary 19626 Sep 201859Maigret and the Saturday CallerMaigret and the Saturday Caller
Maigret et le clochardMay 19624 Oct 201860Maigret and the TrampMaigret and the Dosser
Maigret and the Bum
La colère de MaigretJune 19621 Nov 201861Maigret's AngerMaigret Loses His Temper
Maigret et le fantômeJune 19636 Dec 201862Maigret and the GhostMaigret and the Ghost
Maigret and the Apparition
Maigret se défendJuly 19643 Jan 201963Maigret Defends HimselfMaigret on the Defensive
La Patience de MaigretMarch 19657 Feb 201964Maigret's PatienceThe Patience of Maigret
Maigret Bides His Time
Maigret et l'affaire NahourFebruary 19667 March 201965Maigret and the Nahour CaseMaigret and the Nahour Case
Le voleur de MaigretNovember 19664 April 201966Maigret's PickpocketMaigret's Pickpocket
Maigret and the Pickpocket
Maigret à VichySeptember 19676 June 201968Maigret in VichyMaigret Takes the Waters
Maigret in Vichy
Maigret hésiteJanuary 19682 May 201967Maigret HesitatesMaigret Hesitates
L'ami d'enfance de MaigretJune 1968Maigret's Boyhood Friend
Maigret et le tueurApril 1969Maigret and the Killer
Maigret et le marchand de vinSeptember 1969Maigret and the Wine Merchant
La Folle de MaigretMay 1970Maigret and the Madwoman
Maigret et l'homme tout seulFebruary 1971Maigret and the Loner
Maigret et l'indicateurJune 1971Maigret and the Flea
Maigret and the Informer
Maigret et Monsieur CharlesFebruary 1972Maigret and Monsieur Charles

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Saturday night's alright for flighting . . .

See what I did there? Shit, innit?

This post was sponsored by the new Elton John biopic, 'Rocketman':

Third 180 this month. I'll take it.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Another Day, Another SPGB In-Joke . . .

. . . only four . . . maybe five . . . people in the world will get this SPGB in-joke. Which, for the SPGB, is practically a quoracy:

Saturday, May 04, 2019


  • 250/124 (days)
  • 25,000 darts
  • 2 dartboards (the 'nicer' one crashed on me.)
  • 5 180s
  • Switched darts more out of necessity than choice.
  • Countless shredded flights
  • Not as many busted shafts
  • Am I getting better? Fuck knows.