Friday, 27 January 2012


I ended up watching Above Suspicion and getting hooked. I don't generally like crime on TV because they always seem to be about somebody gruesomely murdering women - somehow this story has become mainstream and accessible, also a little bit sexy; just to compare, imagine if every time you turned the telly on it was a drama about some OAP or a kid being brutally killed, you'd find it a bit twisted wouldn't you? But women between their teens and their fifties are fair game, apparently.

Anyway (sorry got sidetracked) I watched this because it starred Kelly Reilly, a redheaded goddess, (just do a Google image search, then bow down and worship) and Ciaran Hinds, and they are both compelling actors. But it was still Lynda LaPlante. I am able to suspend disbelief quite happily but this was so full of holes even someone as dopey and technically clueless as me could see them.

In the second series, a clever drugs crime lord has plastic surgery so he can't be detected. He marches confidently into the police station and then the incident room, pretending he's from the FBI, just so he can find out a witness' home address from the bulletin board.

Here is my question for you: could he not have saved himself the trouble, dear reader, by checking first on 192?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New blogs

Two new blogs you should really add to your links. Or your reader. Or follow them, or whatever it is you do.

Who's Your Daddy
(quick, before he disappears again.)

Some Miscommunication

Penguin crime

Feeling pleased with myself for finally tracking down some Alan Aldridge Penguin covers (Alan Aldridge, famous for graphic design in the 60s and especially for the cover of the Beatles songbook and trippy 70s kids books like the Butterfly Ball.) Aren't they great?

Friday, 20 January 2012


Someone on Twitter mentioned Larkin and sent me on a search, which revealed this poem I didn't know before. I like it because... well I'll let it speak for itself. It's not cynical, it's just insightful.


Boys dream of native girls who bring breadfruit,
Whatever they are,
As bribes to teach them how to execute
Sixteen sexual positions on the sand;
This makes them join (the boys) the tennis club,
Jive at the Mecca, use deodorants, and
On Saturdays squire ex-schoolgirls to the pub
By private car.

Such uncorrected visions end in church
Or registrar:
A mortgaged semi- with a silver birch;
Nippers; the widowed mum; having to scheme
With money; illness; age. So absolute
Maturity falls, when old men sit and dream
Of naked native girls who bring breadfruit
Whatever they are.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Hockney, again

"Art history feels as if it has stopped because it doesn't know how to deal with photography and therefore how to sort out today. But if you just look at the history of images then it becomes much easier. For 500 years the church had social control because it was the main supplier of images. You can point to Darwin, but social control moved with the control of images in the early 19th century to what we now call the media: newspapers, then Hollywood and television. There is now another revolution and the images are moving to individuals. Mr Murdoch will lose his power just as the church did. It might cause terrible chaos. What happens when authority leaves? We don't know. But we do know that nothing is for ever"

Hockney being brilliant in the Guardian.

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Inspired by Miscommunicant's post on books, I thought I should get back to books. Trouble is, my current book is a bit like a Christmas pudding - rich, dense, with every ingredient, & a little of it goes a long way.

I'm wishing for the easy pleasures of comics. I never was a huge comic reader, when I was young, comic shops were the preserve of boys and not especially friendly to girls. But was introduced by friends to various comic writers and stuck with them. Here is my comic top 5, from someone who is nowhere near an expert.

5. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
To my shame, I know hardly any women comic writers. This is a genius autobiographical novel about her life growing up in Iran. She is a strong, feisty, political person who gives a child's eye view of all the insanity. It also reminds you that not everyone wearing a hijab is a) brainwashed or b) doing it voluntarily (when the regime insists that women wear them, her father says to a sanctimonious woman teacher 'if hair is so tempting to men, then why don't you shave off your moustache?') Great drawings too.

4. Elektra Assassin, Bill Sienkiewicz

Bill Sienkiewicz isn't a comic book artist. He's an Artist. He's also incredibly twisted and dark - I had to give up on his first series, Stray Toasters, which whilst being art of the highest order, is fantastically sick and twisted, enough to give you nightmares. Elektra is still dark, but you can cope with it. Just check out his artwork here and see what I mean.

3. Love & Rockets, Jaime Hernandez
Mexican-American brothers Jaime and Gilberto write in the tradition of Mexican telenovelas, with a twist of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gilberto is very talented too but it was Jaime's style we all fell in love with, he started out a bit sci-fi with robots and dinosaurs, and then got interested in his characters (punky Los Angeleno teenagers) and his story telling just took off. The Death of Speedy Ortiz was the finest comic story I ever read. I remember turning the page and seeing one of my favourite characters had been shot in the eye in a gang-fight, and literally gasping with shock, it was that visceral.

2. Sandman series (Neil Gaiman) with special nod to Death, the High Cost of Living; (Death spends a day as a human being - Death in the Sandman is a cute Goth girl, and a very appealing character) The Season of Mists (Lucifer gets bored of reigning in Hell and gives it up, only to start a massive bidding war for ownership from all the other deities) and The Dream Hunters (an ancient Japanese story which Gaiman made up himself - only people fell for it and he started to get enquiries from university departments and students of Japanese literature.) Neil Gaiman is just a great story-teller, playful and imaginative. But I think his graphic novels work much better than his straight novels.

1. The Killing Joke, Alan Moore
I have my doubts about Alan Moore, but I think his heart's in the right place. This is just beautiful, pure and simple.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


A while back I stopped paying attention to planet Celeb in any way. Bread and Circuses, innit.

But was genuinely quite saddened by Russell Brand and Katy Perry getting divorced. Not that it was unexpected, it was inevitable and that's what makes it depressing. Men like him are depressing. I mean, she is gorgeous, talented, successful, young. Fancied by many other people. Famous. She has that cheeky twinkle in her eye. She's a fantasy figure. She's got everything going for her that could impress the superficial celeb.

But she's also just a real woman, like any other woman. He would be bored with anyone eventually. Men like him won't ever be happy with one person. They are always looking over a woman's shoulder to see who they can shag next. I wonder why they even bother, if people are so disposable to them. * If it's just about affirming how irresistible he is, he might as well just wank in front of a mirror. But if Russell Brand could only look into his future he'd see Hugh Hefner, and that is pretty grim.

*to be fair I also don't understand the pyschology of women who are attracted to men like this. "Let me be the next notch on your bedpost, please?"

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Shoot the messenger

or, Don't bring me problems, bring me solutions

The Hammersmith Flyover is closed. "the structure was originally designed to have under-road heating, but instead years of salt and grit being used in icy conditions had eroded the cables which help support the road"

90,000 vehicles per day travel along the 900m route.

Engineers found that it was in danger of collapsing and it was shut down just before Christmas.

Instead of thanking the engineers for saving many, many people in their vehicles from a potential horrific, nightmare collapsing ancient bridge pile-up armageddon of DEATH in the nick of time, people are moaning at them for the ensuing traffic.

Being a teacher is like being one of these engineers.


It feels very peculiar not to be back at work. It's not the triumph that people imagine. It would be if this was a hiatus before I started something new.

Every night before I drop off to sleep I get a moment of PANIC - my conscience gives me a nudge (it's more like an electric cattle prod) saying "You've got no job! You've got no money! You've got a mortgage! You've got rent! What are you doing about it, fatso? Going to sleep?" I tell my conscience to shut up, I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Much as I am dreading the thought of supply, I will have to get onto it eventually. On the upside, it is Wednesday of the first week back and I have lined up interviews for voluntary work thus:
1.) a part time cataloguing job in the Bishopsgate Institute Library
2.) archive work at some cultural archives
3.) a lovely contact with a promise of work at an art library in Bloomsbury in the future.

See what you can do when work doesn't get in your way?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Top 3 worst night's sleeps

Everyone is writing those tedious end of year lists about 2011. Waking up on New Year's Day in some discomfort made me think about my worst night's sleep, so here I present to you another tedious list, of my top 3 worst night sleeps of all time.

1.) Last night. Went to bed in the early hours, sleeping companion already asleep and snoring like a roadworks, like a freight train, like an emphysemic camel, (take your pick). The heating came on at 5.30 am, turning the room into a sauna, and enhancing the dehydration and hangover quite magnificently. Got up and saw the bed that I had climbed into in the dark was covered in black sheets, absolutely carpeted in long strands of white cat hairs. It was like discovering you'd been sleeping in the cat basket. (How you feel about this depends on your tolerance of animals and animal hair in bed. It makes me go 'yik.' And sneeze. I can't even stand feather pillows near me.)

2.) The B&B I stayed in in Italy a few summers ago had double booked for the last night, so the course director kindly offered to put me up for free in a room in the studio, which was in a medieval castle, at the top of the hill surrounded by beautiful Italian countryside. This was very romantic, but the mattress was practically medieval itself, and I was viciously bitten to death by romantic Italian countryside mosquitos by the morning.

3.) As a teenager went camping with the youth club in the Lake District. But our mad youth group leader had neglected to check the weather forecast so we were up Scafell Pike in a howling gale. It was so cold you could feel the wind whistling through your teeth. It felt like if we hadn't been lying down on the tent groundsheet to anchor it, the whole tent would have picked up by the wind and shot off whirling into the sky, like the cyclone scene in the wizard of Oz. 8 hours of that. (In the morning we picked our way with some difficulty down the mountain and encountered a Duke of Edinburgh group on their way up at the bottom. We warned them. They insisted on carrying on up. Ten minutes later, we met them in a cafe at the bottom, looking sheepish. ) The following night's sleep (in a barn on straw pallets) was one of the best I've ever had though.

The Man Who Fell's Top 10 lists are here. V good. Feel free to share your lists of worst sleeps (or any other lists) in the comments, fair readers.