celticman's blog

Annest Gwilym (2020) What the Owl Taught Me.

Annest Gwilym (2020) What the Owl Taught Me. I don’t usually review poetry. I’ll tackle pretty much anything else—fiction, factual biography, drama, documentaries, comedy, by which I mean politics and economics— with an insouciant swagger and the hope nobody will ask too many searching questions. Poetry leaves me too exposed as a fuck-wit. No-nothing. One of those dreams where you running around your old school naked and everyone else is...

Bernard MacLaverty (1998) Grace Notes

Grace Notes was shortlisted for the 1997 Booker Prize. Reading this book, over twenty years later and it’s easy to see why. Quality rings true. The narrator is easy to describe. Bernard Mac Laverty does all the heavy lifting for us, when we look over his shoulder and read the programme for her performance of Vernicle , a first performance, just up the road from me, Wood Road, Partick. 'Catherine Anne McKenna was born in Co. Derry, and studied...

Alan Warner and Brian Hamill (2019) Good Listeners, published by the common breath.

I enjoyed this collection of six short stories from Alan Warner and Brian Hamill. If we went at this alphabetically, it would be BH and AW, but get real. Alan Warner writes an introduction, waxes nostalgically about the time he used to send manuscripts by post! That was before he became an internationally acclaimed writing superstar. He felt sorry for would-be writers like Brian Hamill, whose writing he enjoyed reading, but with nowhere much to...

BT Sport Nine-in-a-Row Tribute to Celtic.

Bit of a damp squid. Hosted by Darrell Currie, with Johan Mjallby, Chris Sutton and Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, on split screen, it was three-quarter hours of not very much. Adverts took about 15 minutes. So there was around a half-hour of chat. Neil Lennon being congratulated (and so he should be) and fielding some not very difficult question. Sutton for example, asking Lennon if he thought he’d still be in a job if he hadn’t won a trophy in...

Nine-in-a-row champions, twice over. Glasgow Celtic.

Kilmarnock was Scottish League Champions in 1965. Celtic won the Scottish Cup that year. In 1966 Celtic won the first of their nine-in-a-row league titles. Rangers won the Scottish Cup. 1967, and Celtic won everything, including the European Cup, with a team of players that lived within a twelve miles radius of Parkhead. Bobby Lennox was the furthest away from Paradise, one of three players, with ‘Caesar’, Billy McNeil, and to have played in all...

Dana – The Original Derry Girl, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000j457/dana-the-original-derry-girl https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08cf503 I can’t remember watching Dana (Rosemary Scallon) winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1970, singing All Kinds of Everything, but I was only seven or eight. I would have married her, Catholic, and cute as a button. She was eighteen and sitting her A-levels and became Ireland’s first Euro winner. Instant celebrity, the...

Bernard MacLaverty (2002) The Anatomy School.

I’m a fan of Bernard MacLaverty’s writing. He makes it seem so simple (try it at home) which is the mark of a craftsman. I was well into this book before I realised I’d read it before. There’s no harm in reading a good book again. It’s a coming-of-age drama. The narrator, Martin Brennan is still at St Colum’s school in Derry. Londonderry if you’re a Prod. It’s set just as the troubles in Northern Ireland were kicking off. He has to re-sit...

Simon Sebag Montefiore (2003) Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar.

Simon Sebag Monefiore won the British history book of the year with his portrait of Stalin and his followers. They were always one step away from being shot, tortured in the Lubianka, and beaten to death. Their families facing the same fate, or being sent away to the gulags. Stalin only wanted true believers in Stalinism, in Marxism, in Leninism, in his leadership to a mythical Bolshevik and true socialist revolution. Self-taught, a voracious...

Darkest Hour, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, Director Joe Wright, Writer Anthony McCarten.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000j4wd/darkest-hour Gary Oldman won an Oscar for his portrayal of Winston Churchill. A snapshot of the leading Tory M.P’s gilded life in May 1940. The phony-war stage at Blighty, where the British bulldog is the underdog. War had been declared and troops had been sent off to fight in France and Belguim, before falling back to Calais and Dunkirk. German Panzer division and blitzkrieg tactics roll through...

The Countess and the Russian Billionaire, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, editors Gregg Morgan, Chris Dale.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000h3nt/the-countess-and-the-russian-billionaire A poignant voice towards the end of this docu-drama told viewers Sergei Pugachev was likely to be down to his last £70 million (or it might have been dollars $70 million). That was to put things into perspective. I’m not sure if we were meant to feel sorry for him. My Russian stretches to nada. Pugachev had once been worth around $15 billion. He was a Russian...

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