Never a dull moment

February 17, 2017

I had been really looking forward to reading David Hepworth’s book about 1971. A whole book devoted to the music that was cool in the year I was born, and the musicians who made it – what’s not to like?

And so inevitably I was disappointed. More to follow…


I can’t get no… actually, yes I can!

June 29, 2015

A recent report for the RSA on the self-employed found that:

… despite these perils and pitfalls, our analysis reveals that the self-employed are on average more satisfied than employees both with their work and life overall.

Yay for us! (The ‘perils and pitfalls’ include not having access to benefits like statutory sick pay or paid maternity/paternity leave).


Scoop

March 20, 2015

Finally got round to reading Scoop. Great stuff, beautifully written. I imagine this has been quoted many times over the years:

“I read the newspapers with lively interest. It is seldom that they are absolutely, point-blank wrong. That is the popular belief, but those who are in the know can usually discern an embryo of truth, a little grit of fact, like the core of a pearl, round which have been deposited the delicate layers of ornament.”


‘Writer-types’

February 9, 2015

This is how Nina Stibbe sums up ‘writer-types’ (p. 138, following a discussion about whether it’s annoying to start calling a dog ‘Ted Hughes’ when its name is in fact ‘Ted’):

They’re not bothered what happens in the world, they’re never bothered or angry about stuff (like normal people), they’re pleased when things happen and interested and then they write about it. One way or another.

Made me chuckle. I wonder if she still feels this way, now that she is a ‘writer-type’ herself. Unless it is possible to be a writer without being a ‘writer-type’? I imagine so. I bet that is the category to which Nina thinks she belongs.


Another outrageous anti-Loughborough slur

February 3, 2015

This time the culprit is Nina Stibbe. On page 74 of ‘Love, Nina’ we have this:

Anyway, Brighton is quite nice. Arriving at railway station is good. It’s downhill into town and you feel energetic, striding down to the sea front – as opposed to an uphill walk at the start of a place. But then, before you get anywhere charming, you’re surrounded by W H Smith and Boots and people wanting a haircut and you might as well be in Loughborough.

So much for Leicestershire solidarity. I blame Alan Bennett – he crops up all the time in Stibbe’s book and was probably a bad influence. Remember that in ‘Writing Home’ he said this about a visit to a nondescript place in Russia:

None of us has ever heard of Orel, and when we come out of the station we realise why: it is Loughborough.

I wrote to him at the time to ask why he disliked my home town so much, and got a postcard back explaining that he just used the place as an ‘image of desolation’. Gee, thanks Al.

And of course in the more recent ‘History Boys’ he made the school headmaster say this, when talking about a boy whom he thought had no chance of getting into Oxford:

One oddity: Rudge. And Christchurch of all places! Might get into Loughborough… on a bad year… otherwise all brights!

As E.L. Wisty once, said, prejudice is a terrible thing, and the worst kind of prejudice is prejudice against me. Leave Loughborough alone, snobs of Gloucester Crescent!

(Confession: I once rented a flat round the corner in Regent’s Park Terrace. It was only a basement flat though, and it was dead small. I moved out after four and half months, mainly because it was underneath my then boss’s house and I left for another job while I was living there… awkward…)


A ‘Grim Grin’ quote

December 16, 2014

He felt the loyalty we feel to unhappiness – the sense that that is where we really belong.

Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter, p.153


David Kynaston on private education

December 15, 2014

He says:

… private education is essentially a mechanism – in its own terms a brilliantly successful mechanism – by which children who are already privileged by dint of the circumstances of their birth go to highly resourced schools and have their privileged socioeconomic position further entrenched and strengthened.

Reminds me of Alan Bennett’s sermon from earlier this year, published in the LRB. I tweeted this comment from it as it mirrored my own reaction to arriving at Oxford:

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.57.34

Kynaston also cites Bennett’s sermon at the end of his article.


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