Blogs

Hunted, Channel 4 10pm.

Putin’s Russia welcomes athletes and spectators to the Sochi Winter Olympics. According to news reports they haven’t enough snow and have to use machines to create the necessary runways and conditions for it to go ahead, making it the most expensive Olympics ever. There will be no protests in Putin’s Russia, as there are in Brazil for that great media bauble called the World Cup. The notion of perestroika and glasnost are from a different...

The Great War, BBC 1 Sunday 9pm, presented by Jeremy Paxman.

This the second of three programmes was entitled ‘The War Machine’. All wars, of course, are fought in the name of peace and it would be far better if it were left to machines. This is a great mock-up of 1966 and it’s all over now, but it was a close run thing. Paxman, for example, interviewed two retired trade-unionists in Ferguson’s shipyard in Glasgow. They were old, but they weren’t that old as to have been on strike for higher pay and...

ABCtales At York

This past Saturday ABCtales took The Black Swan in York by storm. It was a night to remember: we had a huge turnout and a suite of incredible readings that ran the gamut from daff-picking to Italian cooking, African vacations to dopplegangers, social workers to microwave ovens. The stories and poems were stunning, punctuated by a ukulele serenade from Miss Jacqui Wicks and a digital cameo from HudsonMoon - who made an appearance all the way from...

Alice Munro (2009) Too Much Happiness.

A collection of short stories that won the Man Booker International Prize, which is a surprise, because nobody publishes short stories now, but if you’re Alice Munro you can pretty well do what you like. A good story—whether it’s short or long—makes you think of other stories, perhaps something that happened in childhood. Bad stories are easy to spot. There are no bumps or mounds among the words, no mountains of childhood and you might just as...

31.01.14 Story, Poem and Inspiration Point of the Week

Tomorrow is ABCtales’ get-together in the North – we’ll be meeting at The Black Swan in York from 18:30 – and it promises to be an incredible time. If you haven’t planned your Saturday yet, book a ticket, borrow a car, get your nan to give you a lift: do what you need to do to be there! Among the readers will be VeraClark, whose ‘Tissue Atlas’ is our Story of the Week. This piece is a remarkable biography told in the style of a human atlas. The...

Remembering the Holocaust: Defiant Requiem. BBC 4, 10pm. Directed by Doug Shultz.

Watching or reading about the Holocaust, or the horrors of the Japanese prison camps, always makes me hungry. I don’t know if that makes me empathetic or a greedy bastard. I suspect in another life I’d have made quite a good Nazi. I’ve read about Terezin before. It was a half-way house to the hell of Auschwitz and other extermination camps. In buildings that should have held a maximum of 6000 the camp held, in 1942, 60 000 and they kept coming,...

ABCtales Get-together in York this Saturday

ABCtales is hosting a get-together in the north this weekend! On Saturday , 1st February 2014, we will be meeting at The Black Swan in York (23 Peasholme Green, YO1 7PR). There will be readings beginning at 18:30 and on until 20:30, but the conversation and catch-up will no doubt go on for much longer. This is the perfect opportunity to hear a live performance from a very talented roster of ABC's authors. But on top of our usual reading model we...

Howl (2010) BBC 2 iPlayer, written, directed and produced by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Freiman.

Howl is a poem, perhaps the poem, that helped to bring together a loose group of writers and poets that we refer to as the Beat Generation. Certainly, Epstein and Freiman have put lots of work into establishing those credentials. The film jumps back and forth between Alan Ginsberg’s (played by James Franco) inaugural reading of the poem at the Six Gallery Reading in 1955, the 1957 obscenity trial of Lawrence Ferlingetti (Andrew Rogers) and his...

Danny Ellis (2012) The Boy at the Gate.

The Boy at the Gate is Danny Ellis aged eight. He’s waiting for his Ma at one of the three gates leading into and out of Artane Industrial School. It’s run by the Christian Brothers and has five dormitories with 175 bed, a cinema and a 325-foot long hall, a concert hall, various rooms, kitchens, administrative block. When Ellis talks about the Christian Brothers ‘caring’ for children he marks out the word care by quotation marks. ‘Christian’ and...

Kevin Marman (2013) in the day.

Let’s start with the important stuff. In the Acknowledgment’s page Kevin acknowledges all his friends on a writers’ website AbcTales.com. Yeh, I know, never heard of it either. If I had heard of it I might have read some of Kevin’s stuff and in particular the narrator Tom meeting his sister, Karen, her husband Rod (Rod’s a rod) and their daughter Natalie to celebrate his mum’s eightieth-odd birthday, and been wildly impressed. Tom is a writer. I...

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