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January 30 2018

January 10 2018

Citizen Clem by John Bew Ade is on page 252 of 688 of <a href="/book/show/27855002-citizen-clem">Citizen Clem</a>.
Ade wrote: Picked up speed quite suddenly with the descent into WW2 and Labour's defenestration of Chamberlain in favour of Churchill as PM. One can see why Attlee was proudest of taking his party into coalition government at a time of national need.

January 07 2018

January 06 2018

Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett Ade has read Keeping On Keeping On (Kindle Edition) by Alan Bennett
bookshelves: partly-read
The diary is the best part, obviously. The rest is interesting but a bit of a ragtag collection. A reminder that however good your parody of Alan Bennett, it can never be as acute or as funny as the one he's spent years perfecting for himself.
Keeping On Keeping On by Alan Bennett Ade is on page 582 of 736 of <a href="/book/show/31887516-keeping-on-keeping-on">Keeping On Keeping On</a>.
Ade wrote: Think I'll stop here and skip the play scripts, they don't really work on the page.

January 05 2018


The Dark Is (Re)reading

Later thoughts on The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper.

I first read TDIR around the age of thirteen, pulling it off the shelves in an English lesson mainly on the strength of the cover. I loved it then, and went on to read the rest of the sequence (except the first, which seemed unrelated in spirit and intent). The fifth book, The Grey King, was a particular highlight; one of those novels that becomes inseparable from its setting ever after, in this case the murky slopes of Cadair Idris and the dark waters of Talyllyn beneath it.

I tried rereading TDIR a year or two ago, again at Christmas, but abandoned it midway almost immediately after Christmas Eve. I made another attempt this year, inspired by #TheDarkIsReading on Twitter and, while I finished it this time shortly before returning to work in the new year, my interest once again mostly evaporated with the Christmas brandy. I think the rural setting and evocation of a family Christmas are marvellous and have a strong appeal in the December run-up, but I found the story itself comparatively less enthralling. The fantasy element has lost its appeal and Merriman Lyon  seems laughably portentous in his every sombre pronouncement. The linking of magic with landscape and nature is intriguing, although I'm not inclined to entertain any pagan guff about it. But the major events of the book itself did not keep me gripped as they did before, and I finished it feeling vaguely dissatisfied and somewhat annoyed that I hadn't found time to read something more adult as well or instead. Indeed, having vaguely thought about carrying on to re-read TGK (which admittedly is probably a stronger story), I ultimately decided to forego it. I'm sure thirteen year olds today would still be enraptured by it, but the experience confirms - in my case at least - that a grown-up should steer clear of childish things.
In the Land of Giants by Max    Adams
"This is a superb read and I am still toying with giving it 5 stars. Max Adams takes us on a series of journeys through parts of the British Isles that are loaded with remnants of the Roman and Post-Roman era; dykes, footpaths, tumuli and ancient churches. Each journey is interspersed with a short walk along Hadrian's Wall. In the process two pictures are sketched out for us; the "Dark Ages" and the spread of Christianity, and how the ruins and left-overs of that period interface with the current world.
Lovers of the past, who travel around Britain and probably go off-piste in order to see the odd ruined chapel or deserted village, will love this book. The more hardy, who are prepared to walk through mud and rain and suffer the discomforts of camping, will treat this book with affection and reverence. Max Adams writes lyrically. His descriptions of the landscape and of the "discomforts" are wonderful. It is a pleasure both to the soul and the senses. He paints with words.
I have to praise this book. There are so many moments and ideas in it that will always stay with me and I am certain to revisit chapters in the future. Wonderful. "

January 03 2018

21st-Century Yokel by Tom  Cox Ade wants to read 21st-Century Yokel by Tom Cox

January 02 2018


A quick breakdown of 2017

Books read: approx. 12, of which Simon Bradley's "The Railways" (which I actually began in 2016) was the best, followed by "Electronic Dreams" by Tom Lean, which I read immediately after. Nothing since has grabbed me in the same way, although the Attlee biog I'm currently reading ("Citizen Clem") may yet be up there. Visited Waterstones today and could find a reason to take against almost everything I picked up, which is not a healthy sign.

Albums bought: 28, approx. half new releases and half back catalogue. Best overall was Affinity's self-titled 1970 album (although bonus track "Eli's Coming" was the standout cut). Nothing in the new releases was consistently great but I'll mention "Sleeping Through The War" by All Them Witches, "Paper Parachutes" by Ninet, and "Heathen Hymns" by Galley Beggar in dispatches, plus Betsy's album for some decent bangers - albeit all singles - and the "One Way Glass" compilation I got for Xmas. "Tales of the Riverbank" by Dancer was the most unexpected and rewarding discovery (thanks, Clive), along with the best moments of Hooverphonic.
Biggest disappointments were "The Tower" by Motorpsycho (not awful but they've retreated to their comfort zone - lead track "A.S.F.E." sounds like something ZZ Top came up with and then rejected for being too banal) and, once again, "To The Bone" by Steven Wilson (for an album built on his alleged love of pop music, it is singularly devoid of great tunes).
Biggest disappointments that I passed on (thank ghod for track previews): weak followups from QotSA, Royal Blood and Haim, and the long-awaited yet eventually unappetising debut from Paul Draper.

Gigs: 1, and it wasn't great but meant I finally got to tick "saw Trevor Rabin play live" off my bucket list.

Photos taken: probably around 3,000, of which under 500 made it to some kind of finished, uploaded state. On the plus side, this included several sets that comprised some of the most consistent and personally pleasing shots I've ever managed, such as the ones from Pembrey beach and Aberystwyth, plus the architectural studies around Cathays. Think I might finally be getting the hang of this, and it gets easier once you figure out what you're interested in and can start filtering out everything else. It's not about the gear obviously, but the Panasonic GX80 is finally everything I wanted from a camera and was a pleasure to shoot with every time I used it, which makes a difference when it comes to motivating yourself to get out with it. I made an effort to relax my working methods this year and began uploading camera JPEGs edited on mobile in Snapseed instead of fussing around with endless titivating of RAW images in a full-blown editor. On the latter side, I finally put some effort into switching from AfterShot Pro to Darktable, and now believe I may be able to bugger on with Linux for a few more years instead of throwing in the towel and buying a Mac or Windows laptop. Oh, and I finally bought a colorimeter and profiled my monitor display. Didn't make a radical difference but it's one less thing to blame for poor output. On the downside, HP no longer supports my monochrome printer and there are no equivalent models in the same bracket.

Films: I don't count them, but Thor: Ragnorok was easily the most insanely entertaining movie I watched all year, and The Last Jedi its polar opposite. GotG 2 and Spiderman were good, but their appeal didn't last much beyond one viewing. Paddington 2 was faintly annoying in its determination to remain oblivious of anything slightly unpleasant (i.e. non-middle class) about modern Britain, but you can't help indulging the resulting fantasy utopia when all about you is brexit. Most pleasant surprise was Tomorrowland, which we watched via Netflix on New Years Eve and was rather better than critical reviews had led me to expect, despite a fuzzy ending. (I'd like to name some more cerebral fare at this point, but I'm struggling to recall anything else - I guess "Their Finest" was pretty good because Gemma Arterton is well fi... oh, darn it.)

TV: After seeing all the raves, I gave in and sampled Detectorists, determined to hate it, and it's ... pretty wonderful, to be fair. Not as great as the more hyperventilating comments have it (The Unthanks? No Thanks) but difficult to take against, although to call it a comedy is to oversell it. It's never as laugh-out-loud funny as you'd hope (there's a 20mph car chase and that's literally the sum total of that particular joke, although the ongoing gag about Sheila's homemade lemonade never fails to please), but it's always warm and kind, no moment is ever brutal or grating on the viewer and the characters are consistently likeable, all of which are apparently rarities in 2017.
W1A, also sadly reaching an end, was like Detectorists with more cruelty but better jokes.
Stranger Things 2 was most of what we liked about the first series, with the novelty appeal missing on this second encounter being somewhat offset by the (alas, transient!) presence of Sean Astin.
The Crown continues to be capital-G Great in almost every aspect of casting, delivery, dialogue, photography and direction.
The Defenders was...well, it was. Just teaming up Jessica Jones and Matt Murdock would have been enough, and everything else beyond that only detracted from it.
Tried again with Doctor Who - fresh start and all that - but couldn't stick with it owing to nil sympatico with the most recent TARDIS team, although I did return for the finale, which was...OK, at least until John Simm took off his wig. Looking forward to welcoming our new female timelord though; less so the new showrunner.
I'm still missing Hinterland badly; Un Bore Mercher isn't a substitute on the evidence of the first two episodes.
In the "wouldn't touch with a bargepole" stakes: GoT; Handmaid's Tale; anything of more than ten episodes on Netflix and anything the Guardian raved about.

January 01 2018

December 21 2017


The Dark Is Rising chronology

Purely for my own reference, to get this straight:
  • 20th Dec: Ch. 1, Midwinter's Eve
  • 21st Dec: Ch. 2-3, Midwinter's Day, The Sign-Seeker
  • 23rd Dec: Ch. 4, The Walker On The Old Way
  • 24th Dec: Ch. 5-7, Christmas Eve, The Book of Gramarye, Betrayal
  • 25th Dec: Ch. 8, Christmas Day
  • 26th Dec-4th Jan(?): Ch. 9, The Coming of the Cold (opens on 26th but immediately elides an indeterminate number of days before they appear to head to the manor for shelter on 4th Jan)
  • 4th Jan: Ch. 10-12, The Hawk in the Dark, The King of Fire and Water, The Hunt Rides (overnight, culminating at dawn on 5th)
  • 5th Jan: Ch. 13, The Joining of the Signs

December 18 2017

November 19 2017

November 18 2017

November 16 2017

November 12 2017

Great Darkgate St from the Castle
Aberystwyth, Wales
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