celticman's blog

Ocean Vuong (2019) On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a book worth reading more than once—I won’t, of course, too many other books to discover and read, but sometimes we need to pause. The mark of a wonderful book is you can open it any page and learn something. Here’s the start, which is so important (as us writers know), for setting the tone. ‘Let me begin again. Dear Ma, I am writing to reach you—even if each word put down is one word further away from where...

Storyville: Locked In: Breaking the Silence, BBC4, BBC iPlayer, director Xavier Alford, editor Collete Hedges.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000pz1w/storyville-locked-in-breaking-the-silence I once told the doctor there was nothing much wrong with me, apart from bits falling off. I’m hitting sixty and that’s the kind of thing you expect. My biggest fear is dementia. When you talk to others, often you hear, ‘My mum, or my da… had it’. Director and cameraman Xavier Alford, aged 42, is a father of two and he suffers from a rare neurological disease...

Arthur Golden (1998) Memoirs of a Geisha.

I’d already read Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha . Perhaps I didn’t appreciate in the way I should the first time. A few things I remembered: it was set in Japan, and it was seemingly a memoir about a Geisha. The sort of information that even the outgoing President of the United States would be able to pick up from flashcards, or the cover of the novel when prompted. Perhaps he would recognise that Japan wasn’t on his list of ‘shitty...

The Booker Prize 2020, won by Douglas Stuart for his novel Shuggie Bain.

Who will speak for us? —is sometimes as simple as who speaks like us. We all might be Jock Tamson’s bairns, but in the real world debut novelists those using Scottish dialect don’t win prizes. How Late it Was, How Late , well it was 1985 when something like this happened. James Kelman caused a kerfuffle. Rabbi Julia Neuberger saying the book was ‘crap’. I prefer Jeff Torrington, Swing Hammer Swing , or Janice Galloway’s memoir that’s not a...

Small Axe: Mangrove, BBC 1, BBC iPlayer, written Alastair Siddons and Steve McQueen, directed by Steve McQueen.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p08vy19b/small-axe-series-1-mangrove In my day Steve McQueen was the go-to guy if you wanted ride a motorcycle over barbed wire to escape the Germans, or rescue screaming women and children from a building skyscraper. We’re still waiting for the enquiry into Grenfell Tower, but we all know the score. Nothing much will be done, while the issues of class and race hatred will be quietly shunted into a side-line...

Play for Today, The Black Stuff, BBC 1, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, written by Alan Bleasdale and directed by Jim Goddard.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tw1jz/play-for-today-series-10-... Most people my age fondly remember Boys from The Black Stuff shown in the early 1980s. Yosser Hughes’s (Bernard Hill) catchphrase: ‘I can do that, gie’s a job!’ The Black Stuff was a prequel to Boys from The Black Stuff . It had the kind of audience figures—I’d guess around 15-20 million—that had cultural resonance in its depiction of working-class life in rundown...

David Gange (2019) The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel

David Gange (2019) The Frayed Atlantic Edge: A Historian’s Journey from Shetland to the Channel. Historian David Gange travels by kayak around the coast of Scotland facing the Atlantic in winter sounds like madness. Takes in Ireland in spring time and crosses the channel to the less ragged coast of Bardsey in Wales and Bristol and Cornwall in the summer. He offers a low-down view from the sea that mimics E.P. Thompson’s bottom-up view of history...

The Mole: Infiltrating North Korea, BBC iPlayer, writer and director Mads Brügger.

The Mole: Infiltrating North Korea, BBC iPlayer, writer and director Mads Brügger. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000nr85/the-mole-infiltrating-north-korea-series-1-part-1 https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000nr87/the-mole-infiltrating-north-korea-series-1-part-2 A cautionary tale. Otto Warmbier, a student of the University of Michigan was freed by North Korean officials after being detained and sentenced to 15 years for allegedly...

Joe Biden wins

I’m delighted. I kept checking the US election results in the same way I usually check the football results to see how my team, Celtic, are doing. I get it. I really do. I’m not American. I was not going to influence the almost 75 million polled votes for Joe Biden, nor the just over 70 million votes for Donald J Trump. For the last five years I’ve called him the moron’s moron. He is no more. When the 45 th United States President was elected, I...

Greg Palast, How to Steal the Presidency and Get Away with It, (scorecard) 2000-1

Al Gore, of course, won the 2000-1 election, but an unfamiliar word entered the lexicon – chad. An appeal to the Supreme Court called for a recount of the votes in Florida. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_v._Gore Palast shows that following the 2000-1 Presidential election stories of African American voters being targeted, racial profiling, that excluded voters from the electoral roll weren’t fake news, but fact. He had a copy of two CD-Rom...

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