Posts Tagged ‘Alan Bennett’

‘People’ is actually the title of the play we saw last week but it can also serve as a portmanteau for all that’s included here in an attempt to half-way catch up on my cultural consumption.  Anyway …

People and the power of story

Patrick Ness - A monster callsI loved Patrick Ness‘s A monster comes (Walker Books, 2011).  Hard to avoid superlatives; a beautiful emotional piece of book-making all round.  The original idea for the story came from Siobhan Dowd, another children’s author, who didn’t live long enough to write it herself.  It is wonderfully illustrated by Jim Kay with several dramatic double page spreads that often creep onto – even invade – adjoining pages’ text, while other pages and subtly decorated.  It’s done so well I’d say that the publishers producing a text only paperback edition, which they have indeed done, borders on the criminal.

Conor O’Malley is having a tough time dealing with his mother’s battle with cancer.  They are a one parent family; his dad is concerned but away with his new family and there’s an uptight grandmother hovering.  Conor is also being bullied at secondary school.  It’s a sad, sad, conflicted situation.  Help, though Conor doesn’t always see it as that, comes from the monster of the book’s title (or is it ‘just’ the elm tree at the back of their house and his unrestrained imagination?).  The monster speaks in italics: I have had as many names as there are years of time itself. I am Herne the Hunter! I am Cernunnos! I am the eternal Green Man!  There’s a transcendental passage soon after that introduction that has all the power of Kenneth Grahame’s Piper at the gates of dawn (you know, in The wind in the willows). 

Ness is a brilliant story-teller, and he places stories at the heart of the tale.  The monster says he will tell Conor three stories (Three tales from when I walked before) and then Conor will have to tell his story, his truth.  This comes to pass as the action unfolds.  Stories are the wildest things of all, the monster warns him.  Stories chase and bite and huntAgain: Stories are wild creatures […] When you let them loose, who knows what havoc they might wreak?  This does not come easy for Conor:

You think I tell you stories to teach you lessons? the monster said. You think I have come walking out of time and earth itself to teach you a lesson in niceness?

I’ll say no more about the moral of the story and what Conor (and not just Conor) takes away from the experience, which is more than just the threat and actuality of bereavement and grief.  It strikes me that the value in reading quality ‘Young Adult Fiction’ (to use the book industry category) is in its dealing with life concepts that are new to the combatants, that are not so much reduced to simpler terms but made plainer, are felt more acutely, so that if the characters can engage the older (jaded) reader, then they too will come away reminded and refreshed.   A monster calls is unique in having won both of the UK’s premier children’s book awards – chosen by librarians – for both fiction (the Carnegie medal) and illustration (the Greenaway) in 2012.  It is a great book, a lot more than just the prime bibliotherapy material it undoubtedly is for those – young and old – involved in its specific sad situation.  I haven’t been so moved by a book in a long time.

Poetry people, people’s poets

W.H.FluffypunkI’ve been dipping into, working my way through, a couple of slim volumes of poetry for a couple of months now.  I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to W.H.Auden – I mean, he was there in that ancient red-covered Faber Book of Modern Poetry that served me so well decades ago – but I’m hooked.  Nevermind all the limestone (which I now get), I wasn’t prepared for the sheer range and variety of material he put out, its seriousness, its breadth of thought and feeling  and its wit.  The chronological arrangement of John Fuller’s fine short introductory selection for Faber (published 2000) – one poem for each year from 1927 to his death in 1973 – displays this beautifully.  And a lot of it feels contemporary again, the same questions in a different context, the double-edged musings around the notion of The cultural presupposition – as opposed to nature’s creature’s unthinking existence – both bracing and celebratory.   And yet, with Since he can start a poem with: “On a mid-December day, / frying sausages / for myself …

Which I can see Jon Seagrave kicking off from as well.  His The sustainable nihilist’s handbook: words by Johnny Fluffypunk (Burning Eye, 2012) lives up to the promise of its title well enough and is hugely enjoyable; not that there’s not a certain seriousness and poignancy lurking beneath its comic surface.  “I have not always been the urbane sophisticate,” says the author of Dog shit bin in one of the mytho-autobiographical pieces that pepper the collection.  In War on the home front he admits to holding to “a body of political opinion / gleaned from the sleeves / of punk rock records” but as the book progresses (via two pages of Baiku: Poems about bikes / in seventeen syllables? / Let’s call ’em baiku”) he’s delightfully baking, at some length, Bill Blake’s birthday cakein the oven of my heart’s desire“.  Which is followed by the sublime The best poem in the world, which among other things will “make computers weep.”  Great fun.

Mine was beat up like this one too ...

Mine was beat up like this one too …

Postmodern poetry postscript: I suppose it was hearing veteran late Scottish rocker Alex Harvey‘s musical take on Roman Wall blues on Soldier on the walls, his last album, that was belatedly the nudge for me to give Auden another goThere are a few visual treatments of it (cue pic of Hadrian’s Wall) on YouTube – here’s one link.  Definitely worth a listen.  Meanwhile, the final poem in John Fuller’s selection of Auden’s poems is called No, Plato, No.  I find it impossible not to read or hear those words in any way other than in the phrasing and timbre of The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon Cooper’s ailing nocturnal cry of “No, Goofy, No” in the episode where Penny has taken him to Disneyland.  Incongruous, I know, yet somehow deeply satisfying.

Alan Bennett’s People

People - ABWe came out of the National Theatre’s touring production of PeopleAlan Bennett‘s newest play, mightily entertained but wondering what exactly he was trying to say.  Two sisters argue over what to do about the crumbling family pile that no-one’s going to inherit.  One favours the ultimate victors, the National Trust, the other making a last-ditch go of it or a private sale.  It’s a bit of a rag-bag play.  Bennett puts his customary wit to work on the poignancy and bad grace of a bright young thing grown old, while generous portions of broad social satire rub shoulders with occasional state of the nation pronouncements.  To which must be added – with the filming of a porn movie on the premises – some beautifully executed and extended passages of high farce.

It was a distinguished cast, with Siân Phillips outstanding as the once glamorous sister surviving in the house with her dowdy live-in housemaid/companion, and Selina Cadell as the practical one bringing in the NT.  It was only afterwards we realised that the live-in companion (she on the left in the picture) was Brigit Forsyth – only Thelma from Whatever happened to the Likely Lads; their song and dance routine to Downtown (and another couple of ’60s ‘classics’) were delightful interludes.  Michael Thomas was good as the NT man, excited over the personal piss-pots of the great and good of the early twentieth century.

Reassuring to hear, too, that Alan Bennett wasn’t that sure what it’s about either:

I could say what 40 years on was about and I could say what History Boys was about. I don’t think I could quite say what Enjoy [about the NT adopting a northern back-to-back terrace] was about, as I can’t say exactly what this is about …

He describes People‘s origin as an itch, but insists there’s not so much a criticism of the National Trust intended as a recognition of the dilemmas of conservation and presentation in the matter of ‘England’:

It was an itch and I still have it. But when I go around country houses, and t’other people, and I think, what is it they’re … What have they come for? – and I think, well, what have I come for? The fact that you can’t, or very rarely can, explain why you’re there or what it is you hope to come away with depresses me really …

I know what he means.



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OK … another August Bank Holiday, another Stony Stratford Town Fayre.  And only a brief sprinkling of rain.  It’s a bit like an island, stuck in its own space-time continuum, that materializes for a few hours in Horsefair Green this time of year.  And none the worse for that, tombolas and all.  Silver band on the hour at 2.00 and 3.00, Punch & Judy on the half.

This year I thought the Bradwell Silver Band had a lot more oomph than last.  And this year’s revelation – they’ve done it with Robbie Williams’ Angels in the past – was an arrangement of Don McLean’s American Pie that revealed an inner beauty one never suspected.  (Not that I’ve anything against it – on the contrary – but don’t get me started on Vincent.)  Never mind the red white and blue of the stars & stripes, Silver Band they may be but here the harmonies exploded with glorious golds, burnished brass, chestnut reds, deep orange, rich burgundies.  It was lovely, with that swelling of overwhelming sadness and its overcoming that is the calling card of decent brass and silver ensembles.  While an eminently traditional Mr Punch, with no softening of blows, can still entrance the children, elicit squeals of delight.  Long may he and his Judy run.

Many other musical delights are to be found on the Michael Weston King curated We’re all in it together, a 2 CD benefit anthology for the Morning Star, the only newspaper boasting the strapline “For peace and Socialism“.  It might not be all that cheap in this day and age (£15 plus p&p from the paper’s website shop, where you can also see the full track listing) but it’s pretty much all good, mainly folkie, with some great songs and performances, and melodies that will stick, committed for sure, but hardly hectoring, often contemplative and wry by turn.  Spread over 2 CDs  – ‘Protest’ and ‘Survive’ – you’ll find 33 contributions, some of them originals, from names you might know, like Paul Heaton, Eddi Reader, James Yorkston, Jackie Leven (The view from shit creek) and Robyn Hitchcock (Brenda’s iron sledge!), and some that you’ve (or I’ve) never even heard of.  It is from the ranks of the latter that the two tunes that have particularly stuck in my head come – Peter Bruntnell‘s lilting Tin streamer song (it’s a refence to old Cornish mining methods) and Reg Meuross’s rousing homage to Chilean martyr Victor Jara, which had me singing along – ‘Vencermos!’.  There’s also We’re all in this togethernot the High School Musical song, but a tremendous contemporary UK reworking of Barry McGuire’s The eve of destruction by Michael Weston King – that deserves to be known much wider.  (Pathetically, I feel the need to add that I only discovered about that High School Musical song when I was checking to see if I could find any online links to Michael’s tour de force.)

For my sins someone else I’d never heard of till the Olympics ceremonies was Emeli Sandé, whose Read all about it was just perfect for the occasion.  I’ve only listened to her album Our version of events a couple of times.  With that haircut and the pretentious name (which I now discover is actually her real name, understandably minus the Adele that fronts it on her passport) all my prejudices were primed, but I’ve been so impressed by some of those songs, not least River and probably, sometime soon, all of them.  There are deep melodies at work here, not obvious, but they take hold, there’s an emotional swell that makes them something special.  And wasn’t it great to hear and see Ian Dury‘s song Spasticus autisticous featured in the Paralympics opening ceremony?  Lest we forget, the BBC wouldn’t play that 30 years ago.

Oh, and I’ve read Alan Bennett‘s short and sweet The uncommon reader (Faber, 2007) and I shall read it again – an absolute delight.  The basic premise is the Queen strays onto a mobile library to apologise for her corgis’ yacking and by and by becomes a serious reader, which changes her whole view of life to the dismay of many of her close associates.  It’s a very funny and compassionate book which says a lot of good things about reading and writing and much else (not least prime ministers) and ends with a neat twist.  At one stage it looked like I might find further justification for my eschewing the novels of Henry James, but disappointingly he gets a reprieve.

Finally, did I say frogs have finally discovered our pond? Look carefully, you can see a water boatman too.  Result!

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How do you keep up a performance like David Haig‘s in Alan Bennett‘s The madness of George III night after night?  The mere thought of the sheer physical demands sap the sinews.  His portrayal of the distraught, bewildered, gibbering motormouth wreck of a mad monarch, suffering terribly in the grips of his delirium, was a tour de force at MK Theatre last week , and one not soon forgotten.  He could still give an outing to the talented comic actor he is to good effect in the before and after periods of Bennett’s play, but I find it hard to recall anything comparable to the sense of dismay, desolation and concern that spread through the theatre towards the end of the play’s first act as the malady worsened.  The relief that flowed from the respite of George’s agony – and the state’s paralysis – as the plain Lincolnshire doctor worked his remedy in the second half, was palpable.  Bennett’s throwing in of a small group reading of King Lear – with George as Lear and directing  – as things progressed, was beaitifully done.

As a whole the play was – I have to borrow the word from Michael Billington’s review of the production, which I really shouldn’t have read before writing this, only I think he got it right – too scene-shiftingly choppy.  Not helped by a symbolic set – doorways standing for rooms, picture frames for pictures – behind the elaborate court uniforms; it works better in the film, the unseen editor’s hand whisking things smoothly along.  Written in 1991, the political nuances have shifted somewhat – the  balancing of budgets (Pitt the Younger: tell ’em it’s worse so you can take the credit when things improve!), a prince in waiting.  It’s one of my historical blind spots, but the opportunist allying of the radical reformer Fox with the fop in waiting (George IV as was to become) left little old democrat me decidely uncomfortable.

Worth mentioning too, was the fun (and horror) to be had with the uselessness of the court doctors throughout.  Apparently the original ’90s production had a modern medical appendix, a twentieth century doc coming on stage to explain what is now thought to be the nature of the illness – porphyria, for what it’s worth – and I don’t really see why it was cut this time around, especially for cheapskates like us who don’t buy overpriced programmes.  Nevertheless, a memorable evening.

Obviously this (on the right) is not the edition of Evelyn Waugh‘s novel, A handful of dust (1934), that I read for book group but I’m a sucker for old dust jacket design.  The one I read – Penguin Modern Classics (1997) – came complete with copious annotations (annoyingly, most of the time, telling me what I already knew –  but I suppose the young might need ’em – and annoyingly not there when I did) and an alternative – for original American publication – ending.  Given what I took for granted was his basic reputation for lifelong sycophancy of the upper classes, not to mention his conversion to Catholicism (Brideshead and all that) I was expecting to hate it, was looking forward to hating it, even.  What I was not prepared for was the scalpel in his pen, this ruthless clinical examination of the amorality and chilling shallowness of ’30s high society and its hangers-on, laid out for all to see in the action.

These people … the only ones you could warm to were dim, dull and decent dynasty head Tony (though the dim and dull made it frustratingly luke warm) and Milly, the night club hostess who accompanies him for a weekend in Brighton (to set up the grounds for a divorce that his awful wife, Brenda, not he, wanted) who brings her young daughter along for a subsidised day at the seaside.  (The whole ritual divorce procedure palaver is beautifully played.)  No, normally I can’t live with a fiction where there’s no-one to feel much positive for or care about, but I was riveted by the prose, the style, the economic and yet vivid description, the quality of the dialogue, the wit.  I’ll just throw out a select few aperçus:

  • there’s Brenda’s brother, in Tunisia, “where he was occupied desecrating some tombs
  • and Dr Messenger, who, “though quite young, was bearded, and Tony knew few young men with beards.
  • at the end of a list of staff supported in the family pile (the upstairs/downstairs crowd) we have “odd little men constantly popping in to wind the clocks and cook the accounts
  • Beaver – the bad guy wimp – arrives somewhere “in a state of high self-approval

The book is in two halves.  First set in England up to the end of the marriage and the tragic death of their son, and then Tony’s attempt at getting away from it all, a disastrous and disturbing – we’re touching Heart of darkness territory here – exploration in search of a lost South American city.  The alternative ending is even more depressing than the main one in which he dies.  In the alternative he returns, she chickens out and they don’t divorce: “There was deep twilight inside the car.”  I suspect I shall be reading  more of early Waugh.

Peter Robinson could never be accused of being a premier league prose stylist but he pulls you along well enough, especially with D.I. Banks on hand.  His detective is absent from Before the poison (Hodder, 2011) though we’re still deep in the North Yorkshire Moors (and its pubs), albeit with not entirely necessary tourist guide visits to France and South Africa as side dishes.  The central mystery at the heart of Before the poison – the guilt or not of a woman hung in 1953 for the alleged murder of her husband in the house the narrator has just moved into (and if not not, why?) –  intrigues most of the time, though I have to say my heart sank when the potential revelation of a history of pedophilia raised its head, and the actual denouement felt a bit detached.  I wasn’t convinced, to tell the truth, by narrator Chris, wife-grieving rich Hollywood film soundtrack composer (the joke about “the music that nobody listens to” is used more than once) and his remote purchase by email and phone of a remote mansion far too big for a single 60-year-old man – for all his grief – going back to his roots at the onset of winter.  (At least he wasn’t an ageing ex-rock god.)  Compared to Waugh’s economy there’s too much repetition in his wondering why he’s obsessed with Grace Fox – why not? – and although the divulgence to us of one personal revelation in this regard comes as something of a shock, when you think about it … it’s not that big a deal.  My having just experienced the sharpness of Evelyn Waugh’s dialogue probably didn’t help by comparison either.

Chapters are consistently structured, beginning with extracts from an account of Grace’s trial in the Famous trials series of books (you rember, those green Penguins), followed by episodes detailing Chris’s fortunes in settling in, socializing, investigating etc. not forgetting what he ate (do I care?) and what he listened to (this is Peter Robinson, after all); further along, the extracts are drawn from Grace’s harrowing war journal, – she served as a nurse overseas in Singapore and France – which explain her state of mind at the trial, even if one wonders how and when she got a chance to put pencil to paper in those boats.  I’m not sure these documents work as well as they should, but the book has the potential to be a great film, with a sure chance of an Oscar for whoever gets to play Grace.  There is one unforgivable moment of pure corn involving a cigarette case and, inevitably, a bullet.

Don’t get me wrong, I read it pretty much straight through and it has its moments and its people: the fascinating Grace, of course; her young artist lover, who we meet in his 80s in Paris; the courtship of Chris and the estate agent who sold him the property (GSOH); how it was for families growing up in the vicinity of a prison where executions took place (in our lifetime!); a certain tension as Grace’s story unfolds.  I look forward to the next Banks.

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The habit of art

Good night at the theatre on Tuesday, with the National Theatre’s touring production of Alan Bennett‘s ‘The habit of art‘.  It’s one of those plays where the curtain is open when you walk into the auditorium and someone wanders onto the stage and makes a cup of coffee, straightens things up a bit; a few others come on (one with a bike) and greet one another, stroll around the set a bit, the lights go down and then we get down to business.

So …  a play within a play, a run-through in an NT rehearsal room of a played called ‘Caliban’s day’, the idea for which is W.H.Auden‘s feeling that Shakespeare’s ending of ‘The Tempest’ is unsatisfactory – what about Caliban’s story?  The core of the play under rehearsal is a fictional visit in Auden’s room at Oxford from Benjamin Britten, with whom he had once collaborated many years previously.  They discuss life, love, art, music.  All of which is overseen and commented on by a hovering Humphrey Carpenter, the subsequent author of major biographies of both men after they died.  Various inanimate objects – like Auden’s chair – have a voice in this, as well as the abstract entities of the poet’s words and the composer’s music, the relative merits and powers of which make an interesting short dialogue in itself.  The idea of the great poet pissing in the sink is to be treasured, is it not?

In the run-through the actors and stage team comment on the events of the play, ‘Auden’ struggles with his lines and the wrinkled Auden mask he’s given to wear, the cast do what actors do, interject the stuff from their own lives and so on while the stage manager tries to keep the show on the road, a task not made any easier by the presence of the author, who is less than impressed by what the (absent) director has done to his script.  There’s also some depping for a couple of actors involved in a Chekhov matinée, and a lovely moment when one of them comes in full Russian winter costume to see how things are going.

So to say it’s multi-layered is no understatement but Bennett and the cast keep it all together brilliantly.  Nor do you need to know too much about Auden and Britten, though it probably helps.  This is a play about theatre, art, music, poetry and biography and their making; but it is also, more generally, about attitudes to life, love, reputation, getting old, looking back, carrying on, and the two men’s homosexuality – their experience from another age.  We get music too;  it’s a wonderful set, Britten playing while a young boy – treble voice unbroken – sings, sat at a grand piano  ‘upstairs’ at the back over Auden’s splendidly shambolic college room.  As you would expect from Bennett it is witty, intelligent and humane, gentle and yet quietly ferocious.  The endings of the two plays are not really related, their closure an open thoughtfulness.  It is, quite simply, one of the best things I’ve seen at the theatre; it will give me pause for some time to come.  And Desmond Barrit is magnificent as Auden and his actor, who hurries off at the end to do a lucrative advert voiceover.

A few more crossword clues I’ve liked of late, all courtesy bar one of the Guardian (answers below):

  • Prosper like Dusty Miller (8) – from Orlando
  • Stupid? Certainly not like us! (8) – from Auster
  • Which reminds me of the old classic, which is simply: (1,6,3,1,4) –
  • Prince in favour of metal supports (10) – Everyman in the Observer
  • Strong resistance to break off engagement, might one say (8) – take a bow Paul (who we used to call ‘that bastard Paul’ but we’re coming round to him)
  • & Well-directed children (4,3,4) – from the friendly Rufus

Answers: flourish; clueless; I haven’t got a clue; Fortinbras; defiance; Jack and Jill

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At the theatre two weeks running.  Week before last, mentalist Derren Brown‘s ‘Enigma‘ show was just remarkable from start to the amazing finish.  How did he do that?  I’m respecting his request not to say exactly what that was.  A great showman and educator.   The Victorian séance with the randomly frisbee picked trance subjects was fascinating and instructive, as was the cold reading of a young woman’s childhood memory (spiritualists be damned); he had another young woman drinking a full glass of vinegar.  Son Peter twittered about that and she twittered back saying the only thing she knew about it was her mouth was dry next morning.

And this week was Alan Bennett‘s play ‘Enjoy‘, with outstanding performances from Alison Steadman (I kept wondering when she was going to come on, she was that good as a northern lass; she was there from the start) and David Troughton as an old working class couple living in a Leeds back-to-back in a street about to be demolished, beset by non-participant observing sociologists.  Originally written and performed in 1980, it was apparently Bennett’s least successful theatrical venture.  Which was probably down to the well judged swearing they weren’t used to back then, and the fact it’s a right old mixture of slapstick, low humour and dark family drama, not to mention satire, consideration of the ambiguous freedoms of modern life and failing traditions, northern pretensions and customs and the idea of heritage.  In the washing and laying out of the dead, the quick and the dead given a whole new meaning – not dead and rising to the occasion.  Some very funny lines, Bennett-isms abounding, and some shocking – theatrical in the best sense – stunned moments.  “Sweden?  No, Swindon, you daft bugger!”

Christopher Fowler‘s ‘Paperboy: a memoir‘ is a book to cherish.  He was born in 1953, half a decade later than me, but he started  his cultural consumption early so this memoir of growing up in the late ’50s and early ’60s – the sights and sounds of a London suburb, the sweets, the radio and cinema, the comics, his early obsession with books (“Ideally, I wanted to read every book in the English language …”) and stories, the intro of tv into our lives,  the growing importance of the music – hits the spot well enough for me.  And pretty hard too.  Here’s a taste:

“It was a mysterious world all right, and better to stick with what you could understand.  After nursing my wounds by removing a knee-scab with surgical precision, I lay on the bed and opened my Jamboree Bag, so-called because it had a poorly printed picture of the Scouts on the cover.  Inside were:
A handful of tiny round pastels as hard and tasteless as coat buttons.
Two of the ugliest, most utilitarian toffees in the world, wrapped in thin wax paper that proved impossible to separate from the toffee.
A sherbert fountain with a bunged-up stick of liquorice in it to act as a straw.
A toy so poorly assembled that it was impossible to figure out whether it was a submarine or a farmyard animal.
A joke.  Sample: Q. Where does Mr plod the policeman live?  A. 999 Letsby avenue.
The only quality the Jamboree Bag possessed was its mystery, and it therefore remained far more interesting if left unopened.  Things invisible to the eye contained hope.”

So it is laugh-aloud-feel compelled -to- read-it-to-someone-else funny (it’s one of those books with delicious footnotes) but it’s a lot more than that.  It brings home just how much things have changed (yes, I remember when boys and girls were just “interfered with”), how much we have lost and gained. There is a poignancy throughout.  Christopher’s family home was not a happy one – an unhappy marriage, a father who just didn’t understand his wimp of a head-always-in-a-book son – and there are heart-breaking (and heartening) revelations.  It has taken me back to my childhood in many ways, opened up areas to revisit.  It’s a lovely book. And there is a marvellous paen to the public library at the end.

Less cherishable and no enigma is Tony Parsons.  I got hold of his novel ‘Stories we could tell‘ (2005) because Nick Kent mentioned his being a character in it in it in his book; it’s not a pretty sight.  The novel details events in the lives of three writers from ‘The Paper’, a thinly veiled NME (where Parsons was famously one of the ‘hip young gunslinger’ recruited in the early wake of punk), in the 48 hours surrounding the death of Elvis Presley.  Between them they crammed an awful lot in is all I can say, including beatings, unlikely beddings and all sorts of other old bollo (like an interview with John Lennon and the conversion of the political one to the delights of disco).  He did some decent think pieces in Arena (not least one on the decline in the quality of English swearing), but Parsons has always been an annoying writer.  Most of the time he’s just not a good enough scribbler to transcend his romantic posturings, however honourable – working class dignity, anti-racism, family values – they may be.   You can always see the tear forming in his eye, hear the violins swelling.  He’s obviously aware of all the contradictions – his career in music journalism minus La Burchill telescoped into 48 hours, the disillusionment with punk – but in the end, for all its occasional vibrancy, this is sentimental second division rites of passage stuff.  There are a couple of Kinks references, so more about ‘Stories’ will doubtless appear soon in ‘The Kinks in literature’ part of this website.

Briefly – more engrossed in the Election than I expected.  Maybe I’m not so jaded after all.  Great Eddie Izzard party political broadcast for Labour.  I’ve long been saying it would be the comedians would save us.  Still all to play for, it would surprisingly appear.  The aptness of that Guardian April Fool to one’s gut feeling – the ‘Step outside posh boy’ poster – may well prove  to be prophetic.

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