Thursday, 20 December 2012

not a photo essay

When The Kilburn Social Club was published, the Inspiring Photo Essay was born. (It's been much much too long since an Inspiring Photo Essay.) It was born out of me going to see the book being printed. I didn't go this time, because I was too busy.

Authors commonly talk of the excitement of seeing their book in physical form, especially their first book. I wasn't excited. It was a trade paperback - a size of book I hate reading - and the typesetting was apologetic and cramped. Pointlessly cramped, I thought, since the book was a long one - not very long but a book part of whose raison d'etre was to deal with time and do so by immersing the reader in a long story. I like reading long books.

The pages looked fine, don't get me wrong, but they could have looked nicer and no one thought it was a short book because it was 498 pages instead of 550.

And so, all told, I wasn't that excited. I didn't start writing novels because I'd feel validation at being published. I wrote one because I hoped I'd be good at it, and I expected to be published, maybe not immediately but after hard work, and then I wanted to make it my life, and get better at it, and so on. The first one wasn't published. I hope it will be in the future. TKSC was published, and I was very pleased with it in lots of ways, though there are things I'd do differently now. Then I wrote The Dazzle which I think is a significantly better book (I am biased).

The Dazzle hardback arrived yesterday. It is really, properly, a lovely artefact. It's exciting.

(I opened it and the first thing I noticed, in a passage outside the main text, were two absent commas.)

(I hope you enjoyed the last episode of Warhorses of Letters, Series 2 last night.)

(What is that picture at the top? It is a short photo essay of our Christmas tree, which heavily features biscuits in the shape of fish iced in dazzle patterns.)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Found this funny.

There have been some very good things in the New Yorker lately (who knew?). Adam Gopnik on geography and history, and John Cassidy on the useful effort George Osbourne is putting into showing the world that austerity economics is just as bad an idea as almost all economists think it is, however satisfying headlines like 'tighten our belts' and 'live within our means' are to people who have no idea of what it is like to have to seriously decide whether or not they can eat or heat their houses.

As a public service announcement: Robert Hudson completists who have read The Kilburn Social Club and Warhorses of Letters, and who have pre-ordered The Dazzle must just be satisfied that they can do no more. Don't go buying Beyond the Dragon Temple or The Christian Writer's Manual of Style or Memorials of a Warwickshire Parish. Ok, maybe buy Beyond the Dragon Temple, but don't do it because I wrote it.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Maybe I have been through this before. If so, sorry. When looking at movies, two things date them very quickly.

First: style of acting. When you watch an old movie, the star often looks like he could have made the movie yesterday; but it seems crazy that the supporting players were ever cast in anything. Acting goes in fashions and styles. Stars are always in style, because they are stars, but bit-players tend to act in fashion. Watching House of Cards, which is recent, it was striking that so many of the actors were wooden, weird and dated.

Second: hair. This is true even of period drama. Stylists sort of think they are doing period hair, but what they are doing is the currently fashionable version of it. It is seldom more obvious than in the above poster, but it is always obvious.

Stylists are a certain kind of person, and not a bad kind. They want people to look good and fashionable. Not many of them can see completely past this. Another for example: I was watching the first episode of Misfits the other day. The boy who is supposed to be geeky has what is really an incredibly fashionable Hoxton version of geeky.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

old snopes home

We all know this particular story, yes?
Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.
Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.
Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.
Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.
Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln the second largest ship in the United States' Atlantic Fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that's one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.
Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
It's transparently an urban legend. I was looking into it for reasons you needn't worry too much about. I found on Snopes that in March 2008, Mike McConnell told the Johns Hopkins Foreign Affairs Symposium that he had been in the signals business, and that he knew his stuff, and that this was an actual recording.

Mike McConnell had been Director of the National Security Agency and also the Director of National Intelligence. On the one hand, I find this story a bit disturbing. On the other hand, isn't it reassuring that the guys who are supposed to be running the conspiracies really are just these guys? No. Not entirely, no. Now I think of it, actually, definitely it is not reassuring. The Director of National Intelligence should be more aware of the shape of widely accepted mistruths than I am, and he should also be less willing to say they are true in public.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

truly great

I am not talking about Warhorses of Letters, that is not for me to say. I will say that I absolutely loved this promo. I hope you liked it.

V. busy. Here is some other stuff:

1. About ten years ago, as I have written here before, Charles Spencer gave four stars to a 'truly great' production of Shakespeare's 'masterpiece' Midsummer Night's Dream. Here is Kim Newman in Empire giving four stars to, 'A truly great documentary'. I think it is perfectly possible that the stars were an editorial decision made over the reviewers heads, but however these things get into papers, they get their via idiots.

(The documentary, by the way, is Hoop Dreams, and it's worth five of anyone's stars.)

2. I strongly urge you to read Warren Buffett on tax. It is hard to read this and then take seriously the weasel excuses from self-interested people not wanting to pay more.

3. Ditto Michael White's piece on Leveson in the Guardian on the transparent self-interest of newspapers who think everyone should be independently regulated apart from them. It is forensic (via @drearyagent).

Friday, 23 November 2012

new wheels?

I am a famously massive fan of dazzle camouflage. Not as famously as Roy R Behrens's smashing blog Camoupedia, which has new pictures all the time. This one is of this incredible model of the RSS Mauretania by a guy called Jim Baumann - click on his link if you want read how he made it.

Puma have released a limited edition razzle dazzle boot - Sergio Aguero has been wearing it. Soccer Bible is excited.

A certain type of historian will know exactly what I mean when I say that a fact is like a sack. Here's a very interesting review of a book about how facts work at the WSJ.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

newts of letters

In news of news:

1. Tall Tales is next Thursday at The Good Ship. It's got Benet Brandreth, Toby Davies, John Finnemore, Kate Ferguson, Susannah Pearse, Marie Phillips and Mike Westcott. Please email if you want to come.

2. Before that, though, Warhorses of Letters is back on Radio 4 next Wednesday at 11pm with Stephen Fry, Daniel Rigby and Tamsin Greig. Either make a date or be a square, as the expression goes. It is a horse expression. As the BBC says, 'Their letters speak eloquently of love, loss, jealousy and nuts.'

In news of closing tabs:

1. This is very good - it's about how the age of the password is, basically, over, but we don't realise it yet. It seems plausible at least on the level that, well, when you think about all the passwords you need to remember, it does seem like a system which is straining at every seam.

2. My feelings on War with the Newts are well-known. (Seriously, read it.) So: Wow.

Friday, 16 November 2012

current affairs

At the end of the payment aisle at one of my local supermarkets the other week. Not near any other magazines. Not part of a general magazine area. Just a place where they put some magazines to give them as high a profile as they could have anywhere in the ship. I mean shop. OR DO I? Was it Iceland? I am near an Iceland. Was it Sainsbury's? I am quite near a Sainsbury's. Was it Waitrose? Which? Guess!

I presume I am the thousand billionth person to use today's headlinepun. Anyway, in case you didn't read how Chuck Klosterman - a quite famous American my English readers will very likely never have heard of - got accidentally involved in the Petreaus kerfuffle, it's a really fun read. Highlight / spoiler: he learned nothing useful from his experience.

On the subject of tax: you don't need my help to make up your mind about tax. Politics is faith now, right? It's a holy war?

Still, I find tax incredibly interesting, and here are some things:

1. This American Life did a cracking podcast where they got politically-disagreeing economists to do a blue sky platform on things they ALL agreed with.

2. The platform was politically unviable. Partly because you can't tell the middle class that they are benefiting from massive hidden tax breaks (mortgage allowances and health insurance) which are very regressive because they benefit the richest the most. Partly because you'd have to implement them properly and all at once.

A great explanation of real world problems comes from one of those very economists, saying why he was worried to have his name associated with the idea of eliminating corporate income tax.

3. TAX IS INTERESTING. This is a great, very clear account of the mess Amazon, Starbucks et al made of trying to explain their obviously dodgy tax dealings. For e.g.:

Google tried harder but they had created one insurmountable obstacle for themselves. Their argument was profits should be taxed where they are earned and they said US technology drove their European profits. But for their admission that the payments made from Europe for that technology never reach the USA and instead get parked in tax-free Bermuda ended whatever shred of credibility they’d tried to create.

Monday, 12 November 2012


The Asylum is a film production house which specialises in cheerily lunatic straight to video movies - they call them mockbusters. Some are based on big budget releases. For example: Almighty Thor, Transmorphers: Fall of Man, Sunday School Musical, and Titanic II.

Some are just crazoid. The plot of this one, as described by Bleeding Cool News, via the Inquisitr, is: When a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace. And when the high-speed winds form tornadoes in the desert, nature’s deadliest killer rules water, land, and air.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

A couple of weeks ago I watched It Always Rains on Sundayat the BFI. I had never heard of it.

It's brilliant. Not I had never heard of this film and it's much better than you'd imagine of a film you'd never heard of but actually, properly brilliant. It's a slice-of-life. My favourite character has huge furry gloves, and is played by a guy who went on to present Pinky and Perky.

It stars Googie Withers. When I looked her up on Wikipedia, I vaguely feared the kind of wildly colourful and troubled story I got from Margaret Rutherford and Sterling Hayden. But actually Googie Withers had what seems to have been a lovely life with John McCullum, who is one of her co-stars in this film, and who she married shortly afterward. He was an Australian who later wrote, directed and produced Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. She spoke Urdu and her mother was called Zitette, unlike mine. In 2004, Coronation St used the line 'Googie Withers would turn in her grave,' and Granada had to apologise because she was not dead. I say 'had to' but Googie sounds like the kind of class act who didn't give a stuff whether Granada apologised or not. She died in 2011 in Sydney. McCullum died a year earlier.

Friday, 2 November 2012

big local landmarks

This picture is obviously pointing to something important, right?

You decide (I know it's a bad picture, but seriously this is what the sign is pointing at):

Following links on Wikipedia news:

1. Touch the Truck only happened on Channel 5 once. The winner lasted over 80 hours. The winner, Jerry Middleton, sold the truck to fund the formation of a political party which got 54 votes out of 49,000 in the Kingston & Surbiton constituency in 2001. Other contestants started speaking in their native Kosovan and hallucinating that the truck was an ocean liner.

2. Have now watched the second House of Cards. Gosh, it's good. Preferred it to first series, I think. Partly because the main actress, Kitty Aldridge, is really good (Ian Richardson and Michael Kitchen, obviously, are brilliant, and I really enjoy Colin Jeavons). 'Why has she not done a billion other things?', I wondered. Too busy being married to Mark Knofler and being a successful novelist is the answer.

Netflix is making a US version. I am looking forward to it. (Netflix is also making more Arrested Development. Go, go Netflix, I say.) IMDB currently has the lists as follows: Sakina Jaffrey - Linda Vasquez; Michael Kelly - Doug Stamper; Gilbert Soto - Hispanic Congressman and so on. The precis reads: Francis Urquhart is Chief Whip. He has his hands on every secret in politics - and is willing to betray them all to become Prime Minister. I think not.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

up there with the greatest ever signs

It's on the Kilburn High Road. I still think it lags behind the old ones at Cambridge railway station which read, Welcome to Cambridge, home of Anglia Ruskin University.

Also, why drink stupid old brandy when you can drink BrandX?

Monday, 29 October 2012


I mainly take my sophisticated US election analysis pretty much straight from Ian Leslie's Marbury blog. It is grim to analyse the potential effect of Hurricane Sandy, but of course it is relevant. On average, Ian thinks it will let the President look presidential, and that's a plus.

Seems plausible. But I am worried (as someone who would massively prefer Obama to win, surprise fans) that anything that makes people feel glum will work against the incumbent. Tiny things make differences, however much people want to deny it. Just look at this incredible story by Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier about the small but potentially vital swing that is caused by home state college football victories. The fate of US healthcare (for example) depends to a huge degree on what happens in Ohio in a very tight race, and the Ohio result could swing by the margin of victory based on a football result.

In other very interesting news purloined from one of my many internet sources, but I can't remember which one: on the difference between David Foster Wallace and Brett Easton Ellis, and why the former's style of putting everything on the page with great and beautiful clarity is the dominant style in the American arts at present, at the expense of the elliptical and ironic.

Friday, 26 October 2012

park and bark

This is a great expression I was introduced to by my friend Jon Taylor, over on the right. It describes a certain sort of increasingly rare opera performance - star singer gets booked, turns up and give 'his' Falstaff, and that's that. The conventional wisdom is that this is dying out and singers are having to act more. You can read more about how it is a myth here, but the main reason for the link is that I really like the name of the Washington Post's classical music columnist.

Except the main reason is that when I looked up the origin of Park and Bark as a phrase, most the links were to places near airports where you could leave your pets. This place in Georgia has suites.

In other news: if you're incredulous as to how high-profile paedophiles get away with it, read this by Malcolm Gladwell. It helps if you realise that Penn State Football is more like Liverpool Football Club (storied, revered) than it is like anything in any university in the UK.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

a 2-d hotel and other important maths problems


The famous maths hotel is the Hotel Infinity, which you can use to explain how there can be larger and smaller infinities. This picture of a 2-D hotel somewhere on the A41 just south of Finchley looks like it should be part of a similar paradox-slash-conundrum (or Doctor Who episode). It even has an appropriate name.

Tangentially, am I the only person who, whenever they see this picture, thinks: It took me a while to work out why he was doing this, but I am not going to beat myself up over it because it isn't an 'M'. It isn't. It's an infinity symbol really.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

back in the saddle

I have no good reason for fiddling with what the blog looks like. I mean to make it look better in a more complete way at some point, and I will.

Since last: I am married (it is brilliant, and it was brilliant); I have got all the proofs and notes for The Dazzle off the desk and I'm really pleased with it; we have recorded series two of Warhorses of Letters (I think the cast was even better than they were the first time, if you can imagine such a thing) and watched 3/4 of the Ring Cycle at Covent Garden. I am not going to review it, but some of my thoughts are over on the right in a match report. (Because of all the weddings, etc., I am in and out of hockey until the end of November, so reports are a group effort this season.)

This is the most boring blog post of all-time.

In film news: Sneakers is a movie about Cold War espionage and paranoia that I really liked when I watched in an attic in 1993 or 4 but which, it transpires, doesn't really stand the test of time. Unlike, I am almost certain, WarGames, whose maguffin is much more sensible. I caught half an hour of WarGames the other month and I was very annoyed to have to leave the house.

In other news of computers which might or might not be sentient: I enjoy the thought of a movie called The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, especially since it's about quizzing.

In other news of sentient computers, have I mentioned Giles Goat-Boy by John Barth? I have never read anything by him, including it, but I have read the start of it and think it might be amazing. This was on holiday. I can only half-remember what was going on, because it was just a few pages, but it seems to be about a novel which purports to be the autobiography of a computer who has a child by a virgin, and the book's preface is a series of opinions by the editorial team as to whether it should be published. What is not to like about this? I will report back in The Future. (I only realised a few days ago that John Barth wrote The Sot-Weed Factor which is quite high on the list of books I have most often nearly bought in shops only to, in the end, not quite buy for some reason).

This is too long, like the match report. Blame Wagner.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Gosh. Busy.

1. This horse is called Pot8os. 'What?' I hear you cry. Well, the truth is stranger than fiction: fact.

In 1773 a racehorse was bred by Willoughby Bertie, 4th Earl of Abingdon out of Sportsmistress by the mighty Eclipse. He was named Potatoes.

A waggish stable boy chalked his name on his stall 'P O T' and then 8 'O's. Bertie rightly found this funny. The horse's name was thereafter spelt Pot8os, or sometimes Potoooooooo. He won 34 of his 40 races, which is not small potatoes.

2. I love this analysis of password codes. I dare say we all use the same password or paradigm for lots of things. The xkcd comic strip is one of my favourites.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

closing tabs

So much good stuff. In no particular order:

1. I know you think I go on about The Dazzle all the time, but somehow, inexplicably, I didn't know about the VIntage book covers blog which talked about it a while ago. I have now also spent a happy period looking at other designs by the brilliant Kolchoz. My favourite book cover currently on site is this one:

2. At dinner the other night, I was told about the univocal poetry of Luke Wright (not the England cricketer). Meek begins:

Seven PM,
we’re here – Stepney
pre-weekend beers
extended sesh
meek Drew meets gentle Beth
he resembles Dexter Fletcher
her eyes gelled green
she’s Renne Zellweger meets Betty Spencer
svelte yet sexless...
3.  JK Rowling gets a lot of stick. 'Why so much attention?', etc. Every time I read an interview with her, I think: I like her and what she is up to. For example.

4. Fun Slate story by Dave McKenna about cheating at chess.

5. Amazing true cancer story, also via Slate, this time David Plotz discussing it on the Political Gabfest.

6. Steve Sabol died last week. Most of you don't know who he is. He was the genius - absolutely the right word - behind NFL films. He invented the way American football is watched and, frankly, understood. He was a brilliant humaniser and storyteller. It's not an easy job to turn armoured men into real characters, but he found ways to do it. He was also, from everything you hear, an brilliant boss and a totally honourable human being. I have posted this clip regularly, but you might have missed it or not clicked on it. Seriously, watch it. If you have watched it before, watch it again.

Friday, 21 September 2012

babushka, by one russian doll, out of another russian doll, and so on

Why am I still going on about this novel, in spite of the horrible UK cover? On page one, two of the characters introduced are, Epic Steam, by Land of Magic, out of Pure Money, by Mr Prospector and Bay colt, by Lake of the Woods, out of Wayward, by Independence. Oh boy!

People who get this might want to know that next Thursday is the live try-out for Warhorses of Letters, series 2, episode 4 - WATERLOO. It's at Tall Tales, at The Good Ship in Kilburn. If you want to come, please email talltalesnight at gmail dot com. Also appearing are Benet Brandreth, Toby Davies, Gareth Edwards, John Finnemore, Amy Shindler and Tim Sutton. I bet I've forgotten someone.

As for the rest of Horse Heaven, I absolutely loved it. One possible reason it might have appealed to me so strongly is that it's not a book for horse fans in the same way as The Kilburn Social Club is not a book for football fans. Some people will never get past the fact of horses in one case and football in the other, and that's fine, but every book has to have a setting and these are dramatic ones that are revelatory of their wider cultures. I am saying, in saying this, nothing about the relative qualities of the books.

The US cover is much nicer, but the book seems to be out of print in the US because the world is a crazy place.

Monday, 17 September 2012

hey, is everything changing round here?

Nope. At some point in the next few months they will, and everything will look tidier and spiffier, but I am in the middle of [insert many things here].

The big change you are probably noticing is that tiny picture on the right, which echoes the bigger one above. Yes, yes, you can finally pre-order my second novel. I would do so if I were you. I really like the cover. One title that was deemed by everyone, including me, to be too glib, is Fish and Superfish. It was a process similar in structure to that whereby The Great Gatsby was not named Gold-hatted Gatsby. We will not go into the dissimilarities.

Do you remember I was going to write about what I read on my holidays? Well, I haven't got round to that yet, as you may have noticed. Since then, though, inspired by having loved Jane Smiley's Moo I have read her Horse Heaven, which appears to be out of print in the UK, and which appears to have a terrible UK cover. I have seldom read a book which was more my cup of tea. I absolutely loved it. This week, my favourite character in all fiction is a horse called Justa Bob.


Friday, 7 September 2012

the greatest moldovan who never was

Tonight, England play Moldova at football, whose footballers are more famous to most readers of this blog, I bet, for having played Tony Hawkes at tennis.

Will Masal Bugduv be playing? In early 2009, The Times reported that the 16 year-old was ‘Moldova’s finest’ and listed him as number 30 in its list of rising stars. They said he was linked with Arsenal.

Oops. Masal Bugduv doesn't exist. Someone created him using fake Wikipedia pages and AP reports. The hoaxster was almost certainly Irish. The linked piece is by my favourite football writer, Grantland's Brian Phillips, who elsewhere pointed out that Masal Bugduv sounds very similar to the Irish pronunciation of M'asal Beag Dubh (My Little Black Donkey), a story by the Irish-language writer Pádraic Ó Conaire about a dishonest salesman who seeks an exaggerated price for a lazy donkey.*

In bonus Moldovan sporting trivia: at the Underwater Hockey World Championships in Hobart in 2000, the Moldovan men lost to Colombia 30-0 and Arg 23-0. They didn’t really know how to put on their fins and flippers. Then they went and filed for (and received) refugee status.

Two years later in Calgary, the Moldovan women’s team didn’t turn up to its first match because they were all also filing for refugee status. Each woman on the team had paid organisers $1200.

The Baltimore Sun article on this is funny:

Yes, underwater hockey is a real sport. The players wear fins, masks and snorkels, and they use little hockey sticks to push a weighted puck around the bottom of a swimming pool. At least that's what they claim they're doing down there; they could also be building a life-size replica of Keanu Reeves out of Legos. There's no way for the spectators to tell.


According to an anonymous source who was interviewed by the CBC on camera wearing a diving mask for disguise (I am still not making this up) and identified only as "Deep Trout," some members of the Moldovan team "couldn't even swim."

* Incidentally, BP's recent essay on Serena Williams is right up there with anything I have ever read about tennis, including David Foster Wallace on Federer and (I preferred this one) Michael Joyce. I have elevated Williams to Nemesis status, alongside Josh Levin and Mike Tanier.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

pants on fire

Paul Ryan is Mitt Romney's Vice Presidential candidate because he brings some ideas to Romney's endlessly vacillating table. He seems like a a conviction Conservative and that's fine. Politics should be a battle between ideas.

Except Paul Ryan's ideas are based on made up facts and impossible economics (agree economists across the spectrum). He made a barnstorming convention speech but was it just a load of big, fat lies? The New York TimesAtlantic and FOX NEWS(!) said it was.

People will probably just say, 'All politicians are as bad as each other!' This is not true. The difference between lies like Ryan's and the selective truths spoken by most politicians are very real, but they are complicated and most people don't have the time or energy to think them through.

However, last week Ryan told a hilarious big, fat lie about running a marathon in under 3 hrs. This is a serious time, and any runner of a marathon knows it. He actually ran a marathon in just over 4hrs. Why does this matter? It shows to people without the time to sift the economic stuff that this is a guy who really is a liar. About all kinds of stuff.

Bonus 1: There was a great New Yorker piece on another marathon liar a few weeks ago. This dentist's fibs included taking short cuts and inventing the West Wyoming marathon. If you wear the West Wyoming finishers t-shirt above to a meeting of serious runners, they will find it funny. Here are more of their jokes on this theme.

Monday, 3 September 2012

woah! sharks!

This is one of the many inflatable sharks to which (whom) I have access. Isn't he a cheery fellow? He certainly doesn't look dangerous.

Oh, but what is this!


Were I better and more diligent photo essayist, I would have pictured all the many dangers the shark features. Of course you can see that the above warnings would barely be enough to call a shark at least even slightly dangerous, and I was at least diligent enough to photograph the rest of them.

Something to note. When you are blowing up your shark, you must be careful to do it to 100%. And then +1. 

Another thing to note is that the shark provides NO PROTECTION AGAINST DROWNING. I am absolutely certain that this is not true.

Anyway, I had a great holiday. I read some books. I'll tell you about them in the next few days. I cannot believe I had never read any Jane Smiley. I started with Moo and it was a crackerjack.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Someone I know from some social medium said the other day that if all Holland's spiders ate humans instead of insects, they would eat the Dutch in three days.*

Someone else said the BBC did a piece on razor-footed spiders.

A better journalist than me would check my sources. All I really want to say is that for truly amazing news of the world of creepy-crawlies, spend twenty minutes listening to this Radio Lab about imperial ant wars.

* I originally forgot to include the word 'spiders' in paragraph one, hence Matthew's very sensible question in the comments. I did it to frighten people or because I am a moron.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

sorry dogs

Maybe no one else finds the branding of these near-neighbouring businesses in West Hampstead a little funny.

And, while we're at it, what about the fact that you can buy 'just-add-milk' Dorset cereals for a million pounds? Look at those prices! These guys are worse than Foxtons. Or Innocent with their sneaky smaller cartons.

And (this is almost the long-awaited return of the Inspiring Photo Essay), I saw this in the post collection office in Kilburn the other day. Someone saw that it needed punctuation. That, at least, was to their credit.

Friday, 10 August 2012

today's idiots

In Saturday's Times, an advice column, containing the following:

Your husband is unlikely to change, but you can...

My response to this was two words long. There was more uncharitable gibberish next to it about something else. It reminded me of one of my favourite grooks:

Shun advice
at any price -
that's what I call
good advice

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

you wait years and years for a tuna novel

And then, as well as mine, you get Sabina Berman's. Mine isn't out till next February (proofs have gone to the printers); Sabina, who I dare say we have to see as my latest nemesis, has hers out there already.

Oh, I don't normally like hardbacks - they're a pain to read, but Jack Glass by Adam Roberts is too lovely to resist, and it looks really interesting.

Helen Lewis (@helenlewis, you should definitely follow her if you're that way inclined) linked to this book review today for its first paragraph. I can see why.