Really?

Someone thought it necessary to report this to the council…..

“Leaves, twigs and now some rubbish in middle of pavement all week”

When I was younger I read…

In my twenties I read a fair bit of Hermann Hesse. All the main ones, The Glass Bead Game, Steppenwolf, Narcissus and Goldmund and several others. I think I re-read most of them in my thirties and, like the first time, I really only understood them as a story rather than anything deeper.

I read a few of E M Forster and George Orwell. I loved Orwell’s Keep The Aspidistra Flying – the cover evokes so many memories. There was a phase of Kingsley Amis – Take a Girl Like You, Lucky Jim, One Fat Englishman.

Continue reading “When I was younger I read…”

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Subtitled ‘Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness’, this wonderful book describes the truly shocking level of imprisonment in the USA, brought about by the ‘war on drugs’, and of how African-Americans have been most affected. It’s an eye-opening analysis and shatters any illusions that America has a healthy political or judicial system. Is it any wonder that someone like Trump can get elected! I’ve had my eyes opened. It’s a stunning read and highly recommended.

A full review can be found in this Guardian article.

This short article “19 Actual Statistics About America’s Prison System” by Laura Dimon succinctly shows how shocking it is.

Well that was interesting

So I get to Dorking station to find there’s a points failure and no trains in or out for an unknown period. A phone app tells me there’s a bus to Leatherhead which gets me part of the way home. On the bus a couple of lads with bright-coloured hair look worse for wear as I ease past the one with the sleepy head half across the corridor. Five minutes into the journey the lad falls out of his seat managing to fall flat on his back and looking dead to the world, whilst the other lad appears to be asleep across the seat. The bus driver pulls into the next bus stop and tries to wake the two lads, one who is still out of it on the floor. He has clearly met these two before and manages to get some alertness out of them and eventually to get them off the bus – coincidentally this is their stop. The driver repeatedly warns them to be careful crossing the dual carriageway, but they are so out of it they appear unaware of the warning. The bus drove off, leaving the two lads to their fate.

Playing with manual focus

The weather has deteriorated – I think it’s even worse in the West. Playing around with manual focus on my Sony RX100 I could get the raindrops on the window pane into focus. It’s just possible to make out the the reflection of the park in the raindrops (blown-up 2nd image).

3 books for 75p

Not many books and not a great range to choose from, though I can usually find one or two on my infrequent visits, but these are ridiculous prices for books at the Princess Alice Hospice charity shop in East Molesey.

Stasi Child – David Young

Stasi Child is a crime / political thriller set in East Germany in the mid-seventies.

I’m not sure what to make of it. It comes across as a bit stilted, a bit clunky, and there are some far-fetched scenes. I’m reminded of the abridged adventure and war novels my dad used to get from a book club back in the early sixties. However it’s well plotted and I was involved enough to see it through to the slightly disappointing ending.

It comes across as a first novel, which it is, but maybe I’ve outgrown crime / thriller / adventure books….

Not taking enough books on holiday

What was I thinking by taking just the one book on holiday! I should have realised that John Grisham’s The Racketeer was never going to last five days and two flights. And what a disappointing holiday read it was. A crazy plot, no pace, and not much in the way of characterisation to excite.

So with two days and a flight remaining, with one of those days forecast to be wall to wall thunderstorms(!), I desperately needed to find a bookshop that sold English language novels. Thanks to Google I located Bertrand, ‘The Oldest Bookshop In The World’, here in Lisbon, where it was claimed they have a small English Language section. Yes it was small and I really struggled to find anything, reluctantly settling on an early Jo Nesbo, Cockroaches. I may have already read it, though it’s not mentioned in the list of books I’ve read. But since I can barely remember the stories of books I have read, hopefully there’s something to enjoy for the next couple of days.

View of Sintra from Quinta da Regaleira

Machines – an astonishing documentary

This astonishing documentary about life in an Indian textile factory is available once again on the BBC iPlayer, but only until Tuesday (now expired): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09g8cc9/machines
At the very least, these workers deserve 65 minutes of your time.

Capture“A mesmerising and unflinching look behind the doors of a textile factory in India, as director Rahul Jain observes the life of the workers and the oppressive environment they seldom escape from. Machines tells a story of the human cost of mass production in a globalised world, showing the gulf between rich and poor from both perspectives.”

Did he say giveaslays?

The guy on the right brought the centre of Birmingham to a halt. After watching this video I find this a total mystery, but I guess I’m not his target audience! I found subtitles helpful.

Ricky Jay

The American actor and magician, Ricky Jay, has died.


In one of my favourite films, Things Change, Ricky Jay has a small part with some memorable David Mamet lines. The film opens as follows:

Shoe-shop owner: “May I help you?”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening.”
Shoe-shop owner: “I just shine shoes.”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “There’ll be shoes there.”
Continue reading “Ricky Jay”

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