Monday, December 31, 2012

Fatale by Jean-Patrick Manchette (NYRB Classics 1977)

"I am unarmed," said Lorque. "I want to talk to you. Listen here, I don't deserve to die. What have I done except follow the natural impulses of the human race? And even that is saying a lot. We are choirboys compared with our ancestors. Does the sack of Cartagena ring any bells with you? Some of Bléville's bold seafarers were there. I'm not talking about the first sack of Cartagena, that was Sir Francis Drake, but the second, when the French did the sacking. What I've done is nothing alongside the sack of Cartagena. Okay, so I worked a bit on the Atlantic Wall, I had to keep a low profile in South America for a while, then I came back and I've been giving employment to workers and making land productive. I've made my pile in the usual way. Just tell me one outrageous thing, one truly criminal thing, in what I've done, in what the baron had in his files, just name one!"

"I haven't read the baron's files," said Aimée. Lorque tensed and listened hard, apparently striving to determine the precise source of the young woman's voice. "I couldn't care less," Aimée observed. "Do you really imagine I'm interested in your crimes and misdemeanors? You must be joking!"

Thursday, December 27, 2012

In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran by John Taylor (with Tom Sykes) (Dutton 2012)

Steve Jones is open about the influence Thunders's playing style had on him. In the documentary The Filth and the Fury, there is a hilarious sequence where film of the two guitarists is intercut, showing quite clearly just how much of Thunders's attitude Steve knocked off.

Something similar could be done with me. I would learn to take Thunders's signature slurs and guitar runs and transpose them to bass, along with the accompanying sneers. The first time I saw the Thunders's magic was on-stage at Birmingham  University. The opening act was a band I had not heard  of before, The Police. At that time I would sneak a cassette recorder into every gig I went to, and I set the machine to record when they began to play, even though I had no idea who they were. It was quite possible a band you had never heard of yesterday could become your favourite band tomorrow.

The singer with The Police also played bass, which struck me as quite clever and quite "un-punk." After the second number, he struck up a rapport with the audience of mostly students. A little too familiar, I remember thinking at the time, not knowing then that Sting had been a teacher and spoke "student" way better than he would ever speak "punk."

Sting: We've got the Heartbreakers coming on next.
(Cheer from me and one or two others)
Sting: They can't play, you know.
Me: Fuck off!
Sting: Who said "Fuck off'?
Me: I did. (all of this going down onto the cassette tape)
Sting: It's true. They're great guys but they can't play.
Me: Fuck off, you wanker!
Sting: You'll see. This next song is called "Fall Out"! 1 2 3 4 . . .

He was wrong about the Heartbreakers. They were awesome that night. At the BBC in 1993, filming "Ordinary World" for Top of the Pops, I was standing next to Sting watching a playback of our performance on a monitor. I thought to myself, I've got to tell him about that night, but before I opened my mouth he half-turned to me and said, "I wish I'd written that song."

Let's leave it at that then, I thought.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Put another bird on the log fire

I'd be a bit less humbug about Christmas if my secondhand paperbacks from Thriftbooks were delivered to me by the Hipster Portland Santa. Do the East Coast, Portland Santa. I implore you!

The Hipster Williamsburg Santa refuses to travel this far south in Brooklyn after that incident in 2009 on the B Train at Beverley Road. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Good Son by Russel D. McLean (Minotaur Books 2008)

Nearly a week before the night I found myself ready to kill a man in cold blood, I was angling for the security of a job that paid up front.

Which is why I was grateful for the business of any client. Especially the man who huffed his way into the offices of McNee Investigations.

James Robertson stuffed himself into the sixties-style recliner I'd picked up a few weeks earlier at the Salvation Army store on West Marketgait. He was sweating, even though it was a cool day. As if he'd swum across the Tay rather than taking the bridge. The handkerchief tucked into the breast pocket of his suit jacket looked damp.

I offered my hand. His was slick and threatened to slip from my grasp. 

It wasn't his size, even if he was a large man. No, the sweat came from agitation. Robertson was tense, his muscles practically humming they were stretched so taut.

Friday, December 07, 2012

FourFourTwo's Top 50 football books

I've got a soft spot for FourFourTwo footie magazine, subscribing to it when it was first launched back in '94, so their 2008 list of the Top 50 football books caught my eye recently when I was doing in-depth research into the man and myth that was Jimmy Sirrell.

As I'm going through a football book reading kick at the moment, I thought I'd use it as a meme for the blog. The usual ritual; if it's scored out, I've read it.

  • (50) The Fashion Of Football by Paolo Hewitt and Mark Baxter (2004)

  • (49) Out Of His Skin: The John Barnes Phenomenon by Dave Hill (1989)

  • (48) Steaming In by Colin Ward (1989)

  • (47) The Beautiful Game: A Journey Through Latin American Football by Chris Taylor (1998)

  • (46) Steak... Diana Ross: Diary Of A Football Nobody by David McVay (2003)

  • (45) Back Home: The Story Of England In The 1970 World Cup by Jeff Dawson (2001)

  • (44) The Way It Was by Stanley Matthews (2000)

  • (43) Barça: A People’s Passion by Jimmy Burns (1999)

  • (42) The Billy The Fish Football Yearbook Viz Comics (1999)

  • (41) Left Foot Forward by Garry Nelson (1995)

  • (40) Walking On Water by Brian Clough (2002)

  • (39) The Mavericks by Rob Steen (1994)

  • (38) The Story Of The World Cup by Brian Glanville (1980)

  • (37) Ajax Barcelona Cruyff: The ABC Of An Obstinate Maestro by Frits Barend and Henk Van Dorp (1999)

  • (36) The Football Grounds of England and Wales by Simon Inglis (1983)

  • (35) Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football by Phil Ball (2001)

  • (34) England v Argentina: World Cups and Other Small Wars by David Downing (2003)

  • (33) Kicking And Screaming by Rogan Taylor and Andrew Ward (1995)

  • (32) The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw: The Robin Friday Story by Paolo Hewitt and Paul McGuigan (1998)

  • (31) El Macca: Four Years With Real Madrid by Steve McManaman and Sarah Edworthy (2004)

  • (30) Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life by Alex Bellos (2002)

  • (29) Managing My Life by Alex Ferguson (1999)

  • (28) White Angels by Jon Carlin (2004)

  • (27) Ajax, The Dutch, The War by Simon Kuper (2003)

  • (26) Keane by Roy Keane and Eamonn Dunphy (2002)

  • (25) Tackling My Demons by Stan Collymore (2004)

  • (24) A Season With Verona by Tim Parks (2002)

  • (23) Passovotchka: Moscow Dynamo in Britain 1945 by David Downing (1999)

  • (22) Those Feet: A Sensual History of English Football by David Winner (2005)

  • (21) The Football Man by Arthur Hopcraft (1968)

  • (20) Dynamo: Defending the Honour of Kiev by Andy Dougan (2001)

  • (19) Football: The Golden Age by John Tennent (2001)

  • (18) Addicted by Tony Adams (1998)

  • (17) The Far Corner: A Mazy Dribble through North-East Football by Harry Pearson (1994)

  • (16) The Beautiful Game? Searching for the Soul of Football by David Conn (2004)

  • (15) The Boss: The Many Sides Of Alex Ferguson by Michael Crick (2002)

  • (14) Only a Game? by Eamon Dunphy (1976)

  • (13) Niall Quinn: The Autobiography by Niall Quinn & Tom Humphries (2002)

  • (12) The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss (1999)

  • (11) The Glory Game by Hunter Davies (1973)

  • (10) Puskas on Puskas: the life and times of a footballing legend by Rogan Taylor & Klara Jamrich (1998)

  • (9) Football In Sun And Shadow by Eduardo Galeano (1997)

  • (8) Tor! by Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger (2003)

  • (7) Full Time by Tony Cascarino & Paul Kimmage (2000)

  • (6) Keeper Of Dreams by Ronald Reng (2003)

  • (5) A Strange Kind Of Glory by Eamon Dunphy (1974)

  • (4) Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius Of Dutch Football by David Winner (2000)

  • (3) All Played Out: Full Story Of Italia 90 by Pete Davies (1990)

  • (2) Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (1993)

  • (1) Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper (1994)

  • Only 12/50? This was one book meme where I thought I would be in the high twenties at least. I guess it's only me that holds the 1979 Shoot in such high esteem. I know I'm making a rod for my own back but by this time next year, that total will be at least 26/50. I set myself a target . . . and I fall short. Just like Celtic in the league this year.

    PS - Where the hell is Gary Imlach's 2005 classic 'My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes'? That should be on everyone's list.

    Wednesday, December 05, 2012

    Proud Beggars by Albert Cossery (NYRB Classics 1955)

    All this wasn't serious. El Kordi would have liked a people who measured up to him: sad and animated by vengeful passions. But where to find them? 

    His young blood boiling with impatience, he dreamed of being a man of action. This ridiculous job, which he did for starvation wages, wasn't designed to quench his thirst for social justice. He was so disgusted by it that most of the time he farmed it out to his more unfortunate colleagues - married men and fathers of numerous children - for a moderate payment. Thus, at the end of each month a paradoxical spectacle took place: the colleagues who had done some work for El Kordi came to collect their meager fees in a line before his desk. At such moments, El Kordi assumed the irritated air of a boss paying his workers. All the same, with the little money left over, he managed to survive. He led a life of extreme poverty, but decent and, he thought, very dignified. Keeping up appearances was his constant worry. For example, when he was obliged to live on boiled beans, he would tell his grocer that he was sick of eating chicken and that a common dish would surely excite his jaded appetite. The grocer wasn't fooled, but honor was saved.