Books of the year 2009

30 12 2009

Favourite books of the year

Of course they’re not of the year, rather just the best I happen to have read in the past 12 months. And, strictly speaking, this one was at the end of 2008:

Vertigo by W G Sebald

This one was extremely good:

Restoration by Rose Tremain

And can’t believe it took me so long to get round to this – just absolutely outstanding:

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

And the worst…these two were just awful:

And then we came to the end


Seen ’em headlining: Approximation of a playlist §42

24 12 2009

Seen them live

(in no particular order…)

Staying Out For The Summer – Dodgy
Hit – The Wannadies
Honey I’m a big boy now – Billy Bragg
The Hanging Garden – The Cure
Saturday Night Special – Fad Gadget
End of a century – Blur
Spirit In The Sky – Doctor & The Medics
Oh Yeah – Ash
Ultra Twist – The Cramps
Great Things – Echobelly
Kelly’s Heroes – Black Grape
Good year for the roses – Elvis Costello
The Day We Caught The Train – Ocean Colour Scene
Small Town Boy – Bronski Beat
Each and every one – Everything but the Girl
Are everything – Buzzcocks
I Don’t Want a Lover – Texas
Champagne supernova – Oasis
Cracked actor – David Bowie
Hanging around – The Stranglers
Do you remember the first time? – Pulp
Soldier girl – The Polyphonic Spree
Empire State Human – Human League
2-4-6-8 Motorway – Tom Robinson Band
Mandela Day – Simple Minds
Mesh – New Order
Orange crush – REM
Happy House – Siouxsie & The Banshees
Totally Wired – The Fall

The Weaver of Raveloe

18 12 2009

Silas Marner by George Eliot

According to the blurb:

Wrongly accused of theft and exiled from a religious community many years before, the embittered weaver Silas Marner lives alone in Raveloe, living only for work and his precious hoard of money. But when his money is stolen and an orphaned child finds her way into his house, Silas is given the chance to transform his life. His fate, and that of the little girl he adopts, is entwined with Godfrey Cass, son of the village Squire, who, like Silas, is trapped by his past. Silas Marner, George Eliot’s favourite of her novels, combines humour, rich symbolism and pointed social criticism to create an unsentimental but affectionate portrait of rural life.

“Unsentimental” is perhaps not entirely accurate but it is a cracking tale and beautifully crafted. Almost feels like a novella compared with other chunkier works but nevertheless absolutely outstanding. Can’t believe I’ve never found the time to read it before.

One day at a time

12 12 2009

Thank you for the days by Mark Radcliffe

Approaching 50, Mark Radcliffe decided to write about his life, most importantly, his time in music. But crucially, he only wanted to write about the most interesting days and not the dull ones in between. Mark’s family life is covered by ‘The Day My Mother Hit Me With a Golf Club’ , his school life by ‘The Day I Ruined a Perfectly Good Suit’ and ‘The Day I Got My First Guitar’; through his epiphany of the power of music in ‘The Day I Met the Band Who Changed My Life’ and his star struck meeting with childhood hero, David Bowie.

Other stars are there too including in ‘The Day I Went to Kate Bush’s House for Cheese Flan’, and ‘The Day Mick Jagger Was Taller Than Me’ as well as close encounters with Kylie. The report of the slow motion car crash that was Mark and Lard’s stint on the Radio 1 breakfast show is presented in an honest matter of fact way. Overall a pretty enjoyable read with the stuff with the stars being considerably more interesting than the tales from home. Radcliffe, as you would hope and expect, comes across as an entertaining and thoroughly decent bloke.

Honorable performers: Approximation of a playlist §41

4 12 2009

Featuring artists who, perhaps improbably in some cases, have been awarded Honorary Degrees by one institution or another:

Alfie – Cilla Black
Stir It Up – Patti LaBelle
7 Days – Craig David
School’s Out – Alice Cooper
If She Knew What She Wants – The Bangles
No Regrets – Midge Ure
Rat Trap – The Boomtown Rats
See My Baby Jive – Wizzard
Chanson D’amour – The Manhattan Transfer
Merry Christmas Everybody – Slade
I Want You – Bob Dylan
You Win Again – Bee Gees
There she goes, my beautiful world – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Pipes Of Peace – Paul McCartney
Heart Of Gold – Neil Young
Perfect – Fairground Attraction
Good year for the roses – Elvis Costello
River – Joni Mitchell
Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Love On The Rocks – Neil Diamond
My Cherie Amour – Quincy Jones
Release Me – Engelbert Humperdinck
Desire – U2
The Longest Time – Billy Joel
So Lonely – The Police
The Boy in the Bubble – Paul Simon
Easy Lover – Philip Bailey and Phil Collins
Kooks – David Bowie
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder

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