celticman's blog

John Lewis-Stempel (2016) Where Poppies Blow. The British Soldier, Nature, The Great War.

John Lewis-Stempel’s Where Poppies Blow is a hotchpot of different things. That’s usually a criticism, but in this case this is the books strength. Pre-war England is the baseline, a kind of Acardia to which the British soldier on the front’s mind often returns. Fuck off I say to that kind of crap. The majority of troops came from slum housing and if they were lucky enough to be in regular employments worked between 12 and 15 hours a day for 364...

Jean Faley (2008 [1990]) Up Oor Close. Memories of Tenements 1910 – 1945 Helen Clark and Elizabeth Carnegie (2006 [2003]) She Was Aye Workin’. Memories of Tenement Women in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Jean Faley (2008 [1990]) Up Oor Close. Memories of Tenements 1910 – 1945 Helen Clark and Elizabeth Carnegie (2006 [2003]) She Was Aye Workin’. Memories of Tenement Women in Edinburgh and Glasgow. I’ve just finished Helen Clark and Elizabeth Carnegie’s book, but I read Jean Farley’s Up Oor Close a while ago but didn’t bother reviewing it. This has a bit to do with time and opportunity cost. If you’re reading you’re not writing about tenement life...

Bernard MacLaverty (2017) Midwinter Break

As usual I was trying to remember if I’d read Bernard MacLaverty’s work before. I’m a great reader but not very good at it. His work Cal strikes a note, but what kind of note I’m not very sure. Memory wise, nothing. Midwinter Break is quite a simple story that follows that clichéd pattern of nothing happens twice. An elderly couple Gerry and Stella Gilmore go on a short break from their home in Glasgow to Amsterdam. They’re Irish enough to split...

M. Scott Peck (1983 [1990]) People of the Lie. The Hope of Healing Human Evil.

I sped read through the 309 pages of this book in two sittings. It didn’t take me long. I’m good at that kind of thing, but I’m not sure if good is the right word. I read lots, but remember very little. M. Scott Peck is of course better known for his ten-million bestseller, The Road Less Travelled . Yep, read that too. Writing this now I can’t remember a word of it, but I’m guessing it’s full of folksy wisdom. Americans love that kinda shit. As...

AA Gill (2015) Pour Me: A Life

This book is a delight to read. I’m not really sure why, I guess it’s because the author is honest. No waffle. He doesn’t believe in dyslexia even though he and his son have been given that moniker by earnest professionals. Early in life he wanted to be an artist, and went to among others, the Slade Art School in London. It’s not so much as he pissed the chance away, he realised early that he didn’t have what it takes. He was at the first Sex...

Louis Theroux: Dark States – Heroin Town, BBC 2, 9pm, BBC iPlayer, directed by Dan Child, editor Ann Price.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0991fsb/louis-theroux-dark-states-1-heroin-town There’s a funereal feel to most things Louis Theroux is in. He’s like the Stephen King of documentaries and with a title like Dark State – Heroin Town you expect the residents to rise up from their crypt and stab you with a used syringe and make you part of the problem. The fortunate thing about Louis is he’s already undead. He’s like the actor that plays Steve...

Laura Lam (2017) Shattered Minds

I got to page 41 of this book, Chapter 6. You might get further. I had a quick look because the author Laura Lam is coming to do a reading in Duntocher Library soon. Shattered Minds is a dystopian novel set in the near future. The setting is San Francisco, California, Pacifica. I guess that’s the place Laura Lam grew up, but there’s no such place as Pacifica. That’s a hint. The world is not as it seems. Near the Pacific, but no longer in broken...

Andre Schwaz-Bart (2001 [1959]) The Last of the Just.

I heard about this book in a kind of roundabout way. Richard Holloway had given a reading at Dalmuir Library and this was one of the books he said he re-read every few years. Well, that was good enough for me. I finally got around to reading The Last of the Just and was not disappointed. Where is God? That is the question this book asks. In the final chapter, the narrator of the biography of Ernie Levy, the last of the just men, is in a sealed...

The Vietnam War BBC 4, iPlayer, Directors Ken Burns and Kym Novik, Writer Geoffrey C Ward

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b096k8wz/the-vietnam-war-series-1-1-deja-vu-18581961 Déjà vu 1858-1961 The Vietnam War, in ten parts, is the best thing on television. Déjà vu seems quite apt, with the United States divided in a way not seen since those for and against the War and those that voted for the moron’s moron as President and those that hate everything he stands for. I’m not a citizen of the United States, but I’m in the latter...

Child in Mind, BBC 4, 10pm, directed by Sam Benstead

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b097bkcy/child-in-mind?suggid=b097... I watched Men Who Sleep in Cars a drama, in verse, linking the lives of three men who, you’ve guessed it, sleep in cars, but one of them cheats, because he has the luxury of a Ford Transit van. It was OKish. I didn’t really intend to watch Child in Mind , with poetry by Simon Armitrage, I’ve got stacks of things to do, and by that I mean, read. I write too and sometimes...

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