Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Even though this is Scotland, our particular bit doesn't usually get snow until February and March. It's the first week in January and the temperature hasn't reached more than 0 degrees since Christmas. Salt cannot be found in any shop so our vegetables are healthy and taste as they should. Dan has just come in from saving our neighbours from nasty slips. As a substitute, he quite cleverly decided to pour cat litter over the pavements around our building. He surely is a local hero especially since we'd just come back from the doctor's as Dan has a sneezy cold and a throat infection. He can't speak so we are communicating through Yahoo Messenger. The little house across the road - a white building which in its shape and simplicity looks like a child's drawing -now resembles an iced Christmas gingerbread cake. The cat leaps out the kitchen window, sits on the outer sill considering his next step, then disappears into the frozen garden. He reappears with a yowl only an hour later then retreats back to the sofa, his coat wet and cold. The rear windscreen wiper of the car hangs limply as snow, deceptively frozen, proved too hard, and someone has scrawled in big chunky letters, visible to passing aircraft, LOL on the two inches of snow on the car's rooftop. A lottery ticket scratchcard is embedded in several days' layers of ice outside our living room window while the radiators chug constantly, a reminder of the scary heating bill we'll get in February.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Day in the Life

Saw a snippet of Richard E. Grant's documentary about diaries and diarists and will watch on iplayer as it seemed pretty interesting - Tolstoy complaining about bowel problems and sex, and Joe Orton's detailing of sexual encounters in public lavatories. This started me researching Joe Orton who was the quintessential 60's Brit: swinging Islington, sex, a rising working-class intelligentsia, theatre, The Beatles... His defacement of public library books is hilarious. Check this link here for a few of the book covers. The six month punishment issued by the court isn't so funny.

Underrated and Under Read - a biased report

The excellent, fun comic Jersey Gods debuted last February at the New York Comic Con. It's a monthly bundle of fun, thanks to writer Glen Brunswick and the dynamic art of Dan McDaid. At first, sales were very good and the comic had a strong following. Then, gradually, interest seemed to dwindle. Maybe the time just wasn't right for the tone or style of the book. The new series Chew has done incredibly well - probably because the time is just right. Look at the names of very popular TV shows and their conceits - The Mentalist, Monk, House, Chuck... One-name-investigator-with-a-quirk is the soup de jour. A few people are now saying the book will have its day, maybe in a year or so. It will end up on lists called 'forgotten classics' or 'how did we miss?'.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Writers - well, new to me

As the last few frozen days of the Christmas holidays pass by, I've been dipping into the Guardian's article on writers who died in the last decade. Lots of lovely new names and titles here to research and read, including Lorna Sage (picture reminds me of literary-minded pal of mine, Linda), Grace Paley (interesting New Yorker of Russian stock), Sybille Bedford (globe-trotter who kept falling in love well into her 90s). There are many more, but those are the three I'm getting to know a bit better just now.

Also, excellent feature on books which are due to be published in 2010. All manner of subjects covered. Reading the list got me a bit excited particularly about non-fiction, a genre I tend to neglect. John Lanchester - who wrote the rather-good Mr Phillips - has written a book on the current health of the economy, Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone and No One Can Pay, which will be published in February. That one might just go on my birthday present wish list.

Click here for interesting interview with Grace Paley.