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May 25 2017

Ade shared a quote
We shall never fully understand nature (or ourselves), and certainly never respect it, until we dissociate the wild from the notion of usability - however innocent and harmless the use. For it is the general uselessness of so much of nature that lies at the root of our ancient hostility and indifference to it.John Fowles

May 22 2017

May 18 2017

Ade liked a quote
Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.H.L. Mencken

May 17 2017

May 15 2017

A Very English Scandal by John  Preston Ade gave 3 stars to A Very English Scandal: Sex, Lies and a Murder Plot at the Heart of the Establishment (Paperback) by John Preston
A tremendous yarn...perhaps rather less satisfying or reliable as history. Relying as it does principally on Peter Bessell's (likely self-serving) memoirs and apparently Norman Scott's testimony, Preston is left rather stranded when the actions of those two principals appear somewhat mysterious or irrational. Why, for example, despite being openly betrayed several times by Thorpe, does the apparently well-meaning Bessell still twist abruptly from grievance and anger to slavish declarations of loyalty to his former colleague, for reasons that he himself admits deny all logic?

Jeremy Thorpe, of course, is no longer here to defend himself - and showed a marked reluctance even to revisit the story in life once he had been found innocent in court. Not surprising if one feels, as almost the entire Establishment seemed to, that he had a lucky escape when he was almost certainly guilty. In this telling, Thorpe comes across as a classic psychopath; charming, urbane, carried away by his own rhetoric and yet incapable of true empathy with those he seduced. His affair with Scott here looks like abuse of a vulnerable young man (seemingly a recurrent tale among the Liberal Party of the time), while Scott, for all his protestations of being a reluctant homosexual, certainly seems as if, to borrow the classic remark, he would be happy to assist if they were shorthanded.

I can't help comparing this book to Rupert Davenport-Hines's An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo, and not only because of the similarity in their titles. Profumo and Thorpe bookend the Wilson premierships, even though he had no direct involvement in either. Interestingly, while Wilson was happy to take full advantage of Profumo to nail the ramifications of his affair to the Conservative government and thus ease his path to victory, he held off exposing Thorpe while the latter was conducting coalition talks with Heath, chiefly at the urging of Bernard Donaghue not to drag himself down to that level (although he would later muddy the waters to Thorpe's advantage by hinting darkly at South African involvement in the matter).
French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain Ade gave 3 stars to French Rhapsody (Paperback) by Antoine Laurain
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

May 13 2017

French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain Ade is currently reading French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain

May 12 2017

Out of Time by Miranda Sawyer Ade gave 4 stars to Out of Time (Kindle Edition) by Miranda Sawyer
bookshelves: partly-read

May 10 2017

A Very English Scandal by John  Preston Ade is on page 311 of 352 of <a href="/book/show/31850727-a-very-english-scandal">A Very English Scandal</a>.
Out of Time by Miranda Sawyer Ade is currently reading Out of Time by Miranda Sawyer

May 09 2017

May 08 2017


Top Welsh coastal towns

Just a list, for my own amusement, along with a brief note on their weirder environs, by which I mean those that somehow feel out of place:
  1. Tenby: winning on location, aspect and amenities, Tenby crushes it comfortably. Even the grubbier parts somehow bathe in the shine reflecting off the rest of it. Weird bit: the empty grassy dunes down one side of self-explanatory Marsh Road.
  2. Aberystwyth: probably of greater personal significance, speaking as an alumnus, with plenty to explore, an interesting community and some sound choices for food & drink, but loses top spot for the dirt beach and the fact it probably wouldn't be in many peoples' top fives. Weird bit: the quiet, undulating backstreets behind the castle, although to be fair there's a lot of competition for 'weird' in Aber.
  3. Mumbles: traffic is horrendous and it attracts way more people than it can comfortably accommodate on good days, plus the 'beach' is a wash again (except up near the lighthouse) but good for ice creams and a stroll along the front while people-spotting. Weird bit: heading up towards the pier, where it feels like it should be an unrewarding dead end but isn't quite; it's probably the lingering absence of the long-gone railway.
  4. Conwy: small but perfectly formed, and hugely improved since the heavy traffic was abstracted by the A50 road tunnel. Castle, shops, harbour area all good, pleasant walks up and down the estuary and along the walls. Weird bit: around the rear, where Conwy hides away its non-public side.
  5. Porthmadog: some grim parts have seen better days but location, surrounding scenery and little trains!! along the streets all good. Weird bit: the main street, which somehow fails in a disconcerting 70s-themed fashion to be the pleasantly bustling and attractive tourist centre it's aiming at.
  6. Porthcawl: Not so much the town and certainly not the tarmac beach, but worth passing through for access to Rest Bay and the feel of open moorland meeting the coast. Weird bit: the site of the former salt lake, which they still haven't worked out what to do with.
  7. Abersoch: crowding even worse than Mumbles in summer, but pretty town and excellent beach. Weird bit: dunno, but the way the road crooks around the top of the harbour feels unlikely.
  8. Aberdyfi: lovely feeling of bright white buildings and open aspect. Weird bit: the railway station amongst the dunes, with its "next train in a week" feel.
  9. Criccieth: interesting shops, a Williams-Ellis modernist café, fantastic sweep along the peninsula and a castle.
  10. Barmouth: Too often seems like an English resort in Wales but massive beach and town looks attractive against the hills.

...And coastal places that somehow don't count:

  1. Penarth: the pier's fab, obviously, but the beach is dirt, the prom feels truncated and the town is too away far up the hill, like it doesn't want to partake.
  2. Caernarfon: great town but has an inland-facing aspect and doesn't interrelate strongly to the coastal side. (Same for Bangor and again for St David's, where although the cliffs are a short walk down a narrow lane, the main bay is two miles down the road at Whitesands.)
  3. Rhyl, Prestatyn: I know Rhyl at least is undergoing something of a revival - the benighted funfair and 'Sun Centre' have gone - and maybe it'll be a worthy contender again one day, but its recent past and my childhood memories are currently against it. Prestatyn is just...desperate.
  4. Llandudno: too prim and staid, without much to be prim and staid about.
  5. Porthgain, Solva, Newgale, etc.: fascinating, quirky, scenic little places, well worth a visit with a unique feel, but really coastal villages rather than towns. Although on the plus side, something about Newgale's setting makes it feel really, really weird - verging on wyrd in stormy weather.
  6. Barry: I like the Knap but...cheesy.
  7. Tywyn: way too much bare concrete; the bulk of the town does its best to disown the prom, understandably. Similarly, Colwyn Bay.
  8. Saundersfoot: sorry but ugh. In high season, treble ugh.
  9. Borth: umm...no. Keep going to Ynyslas. (If you want weird, any road off the main street should suffice.)
  10. Aberaeron: get funnelled down a narrow street, hemmed in by dubious attractions, for a restricted glimpse of grey sea next to a caravan park.
  11. Holyhead: jesus no. I like weird, not dystopian.

On the to do list: Burry Port, north Gower, Marloes Sands area.

April 30 2017


Pontypridd Common, Wales, UK

30th Apr 2017

Pontypridd Common, Wales, UK
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