celticman's blog

Japan’s Secret Shame, BBC 2 9pm, BBC iPlayer, director and producer Erica Jenkins.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0b8cfcj/japans-secret-shame?suggid=b0b8cfcj In May 2017, twenty-nine year old Shiori Ito, claimed she had been raped by a television journalist, Noriyuki Yamaguchi. They had met in a Tokyo sushi bar. Ito hoped Yamaguchi would help her break into journalism and was willing to work as an intern. He was well connected to Japan’s elite, having written an authorised biography of the Prime Minister of Japan,...

Reporting Trump’s First Year: The Forth Estate, BBC 9pm, BBC iPlayer, director and producer Liz Garbus.

The twin problems of Donald J Trump are entwined. Firstly, he is Donald J Trump. Secondly, he is in office as President of the United States. This four-part documentary follows reporters in the New York Times as they cover the newly inaugurated President. Much of news in online before it reaches print, as is shown here. Too late. Trump moves faster than any documentary crew and we already feel we know everything we need to know about him. What...

Sara Trevelyan (2017) freedom found: a memoir.

The spiel on the cover page, a kiss and tell from Jimmy Boyle: ‘She absolutely taught me how to love’. Em, as my old da would say, fanny wash. Sara in contrast has a whole book to tell the reader how it is or was. ‘At the end of the 1970s, I met and fell in love with one of Scotland’s best-known prisoners, Jimmy Boyle. Our two very different worlds collided in an unexpected way…’ I love books, but gave Trevelyan’s away after reading the first...

Hidden 9pm BBC 4, BBCiPlayer, directed by Gareth Bryn

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p066svr5/hidden-series-1-episode-1?ns_mchannel=email&ns_source=&ns_campaign=PANUK_DIV_23_IPL_Recommends_D&ns_linkname=bbcone_hiddendrama_dramathriller&ns_fee=0 As any of my long-term blog readers knows (which numbers about two and a bit) the embourgeoisement thesis that was used to determine whether working class folk can become middle class by becoming Luton car workers or continually...

John Banville (2016) Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir. Photographs by Paul Joyce

Einstein was right, time is distance. John Banville asks ‘when does the past become the past?’ The answer, of course, is it doesn’t, but it does. Recently, the citizens of Ireland voted to modify the law and allow women to have abortions in their country. Banville tells a story of how his mother was reprimanded by the parish priest for reading ‘Women’s Own’ magazine showing the influence of the Catholic Church in controlling people’s lives. Only...

James Kelman (2008) Kieron Smith, Boy.

Kieron Smith, Boy almost in a stream of consciousness, single-minded, dizzying prose, which for over 400 pages guides you through the before and after of late 1950s Glasgow with its decaying tenements and rats and squalor and then the promise of new greenfield sites and housing schemes, mile after mile of houses with inside toilets but nothing much to do. I’m guessing the first part is near Govan, where Kieron lives with his mum and dad, who has...

Shaun Bythell (2017) The Diary of a Bookseller.

Remember them, booksellers before Amazon? On 1 st Septmeber 1962, 250 000 Glaswegians gathered in the driving rain to pay homage to the last run of the tram cars. Who will honour our booksellers? Shaun Bythwell likes being his own boss. He is the owner of The Bookstore in Wigtown, which he bought in November 2001. His employees like him too, which makes him one of the good guys. Amazingly I’ve heard of the Wigtown Book Festival. His bookstore is...

John Banville (2014 [1998])  The Book of Evidence.

I picked this book up to have a quick look. I was more than likely to just put it down again. As a younger self I had picked up John Banville’s prize-winning novel The Sea rolled my eyes and went under. I didn’t get beyond the first chapter. The Book of Evidence has redeemed John Banville. I’m sure there’ll be fireworks in writers’ heaven and he’ll be glad another reader has seen the light. Now I’ve read one and a bit of his books I intend to...

Damon Young (2017) The Art of Reading.

It seems a bit stupid to call reading an art. I was going to write counterintuitive, but that’s a kind of wanky word. Reading is just something I do. We can stick art as descriptive tag before most words and phrases and somehow make it seem erudite. Try it at home. The Art of the Blowsy Blonde. The Art of the Bicycle. The Art of the Mug. The Art of the Article. But as Damon Young shows reading, if done properly, really is an art form. And if you...

Timothy Snyder (2017) On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From the Twentieth Century.

On the eve of President Trump’s ‘working visit’ to the United Kingdom this is a handy book to read. President Trump features more than Putin, or other twenty-first century despots. I guess this short book is a riposte to that shock election result, which wasn’t a shock to Snyder. Depots don’t read books. And Trump doesn’t read. His library consists of stored Tweets. Snyder’s lessons On Tyranny shifted through the sands of the mass killings of...

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