Do not pad ignorance with eloquence

Yesterday afternoon I found myself in that peculiarly liminal space between the end of one book and the beginning of another. I am usually careful to set up my next read well in advance, however, on this particular occasion, I’d hit a dead end. There are more books on the shelf in the living room than there is time…

There is no such thing as revenge

 George Orwell: A Literary Life – Peter Davison (1996) It is said that everybody needs a hobby, but that is not to say you should be limited to only one. While some of my hobbies could be described as practical in their scope, such as learning a new language or exercising, over the last few…

If only it were all so simple!

The Gulag Archipelago – Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1973) The Mission – In an attempt to better keep track of my reading, I have settled on the idea that creating a short a post on the book with which I am currently engaged might prove a productive and useful undertaking. For the last 2 weeks, I have been spending every spare moment utterly transfixed by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag…

The gift that keeps on giving

You know how it is, you’re in a second-hand bookshop on a Saturday afternoon, indifferently leafing through anything that comes to hand and, for whatever reason, you suddenly fix on something that catches you’re attention. I picked up a copy of Content Provider: Selected Short Prose Pieces 2011-2016(2016, Faber & Faber) by the comedian Stewart Lee and noticed…

I was not designed to make you laugh

In a recent post I discussed wanting to make a change to my life and, sure enough , I went and took the plunge. I no longer work with VICE News (the three hour daily commute was steadily eroding my will to live), but have instead taken a post with the BBC. Since I was…

Do what you can

Herself is in Greece, so I’m home alone for the next week until I join her over there for Greek Easter. I’ll have to find something to keep myself occupied for the weekend, though I fear my efforts may amount to little more that sitting on the couch and watching Sergei Bondarchuk’s incredible 8 hour…

Best of London Pavement Signs

John Cleese once said that his Three Laws of Comedy were 1. No puns, 2. No puns, and 3. No puns. This nugget of wisdom, however, has not been adopted by the shop owners of the Greater London area. Their signs almost invariably contain a pun in some form or other and I don’t see…

A screen is not a page

Nobody enjoys a good pavement sign more than myself, so when herself and I came across this humourous curiosity whilst out for a walk on Saturday, I had to take a picture to share. Enjoy.

One for the poets

In the closing chapter of Augustus by John Williams, a novel I have just finished reading for the second time, I noticed yet another passage that I criminally overlooked on the first read. This quote appears in a letter written by the elderly and reflective emperor Octavius Caesar, to his friend, the historian and philosopher,…

The Romans and the Moralists

I am half way through rereading Augustus, a suberb novel by John Williams, author of the equally brilliant Stoner and Butcher’s Crossing, and noticed this particularly eloquent passage that I had overlooked the first time through. The quote is taken from a fictionalised 12BC letter from the political advisor Gaius Cilnius Maecenas to Titus Livius and…

Under Pressure

The bookshelf above my bed is now beyond overloaded and I’m quite certain that it’s going to collapse any day now. We’re at breaking point. One of the screws on the bottom left corner is looking particularly dodgy, and despite my best efforts I can’t get the damn thing tightened back into the wall. I…

The Quick and the Pointless

It is a curious thing that you are now just as likely to find a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road in a second-hand bookshop as you are to find a copy of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It reminds me of the comedian Stewart Lee’s joke that, considering the current condition of the literary world, the…

Literary Tastes and Tesco

On my lunch break, I quickly popped into Tesco this afternoon to buy some milk and caught glimpse of their book selection. I can’t be alone in finding this arrangement to be borderline vulgar. Order needed to be restored. For the sake of decency (and culture), this is how I left the shop: