Tuesday, February 26, 2019


'I don't believe in God, but I miss Him.' Julian Barnes' new book is, among many things, a family memoir, an exchange with his philosopher brother, a meditation on morality and the fear of death, a celebration of art, an argument with and about God, and a homage to the French writer Jules Renard.

This is a two hundred and forty five page essay about death, it is al of the things mentioned in the cover blurb above but it is about death.  The writing is fantastic, its very funny and Barnes raises many points.  He's not an atheist like his brother , I feel he holds out a wee hope that there might be something in the great beyond even though his intelligence tells him he's being 'silly'.

Not a light read and I admit there are parts that flew straight over my head but interesting as he approaches an age where he realizes  that .....somewhere in the not too distance future there are not too many football seasons left....

Thursday, February 21, 2019


The author is at pains to state this is not a about "The 12 Books.."  just 12 books in his opinion that have changed the world we live in.  The Magna Carta isn't really a book but he puts this in because he can its his book and he mounts an argument for inclusion.

Also "On the Abolition of Slavery "  was a speech in Parliament that was subsequently published. and there is a patent application as well, but its all very interesting.

I'll never read any of these books but its fascinating reading about them and what their publication resulted in.

The 12:

Principia Mathematica -    by Issac Newton

Married Love  -    by Marie Stopes

Magna Carta -   by Members of the English Ruling Class

The Rule Book of Association Football -  by a Group of Former Public School Men

On the Origin of the Species  -   by Charles Darwin

On the Abolition of the Slave Trade   -  by William Wilberforce in Parliament

A Vindication of the Rights of Women  -   by Mary Wollstonecraft

Experimental Researches in Electricity  -   by Michael Faraday

Patent Specification for Arkwright's Spinning Machine  -   by Richard Arkwright.

The King James Bible  -   by  William Tyndale and Fifty Four Scholars Appointed by the King

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations  -   by Adam Smith

The First Folio  -   by  William Shakespeare

Monday, February 18, 2019


Great fun from from Mr idle, lots of laughs and some serious name dropping for which he is unapologetic.  This man is seriously famous so when Mick Jagger and David Bowie come to your wedding you can name drop like a big name dropping thing.

Some good insight about Python and about his friendship with George Harrison. My favourite anecdote was when a British ship was sinking during the Falklands war and the crew sat on the deck waiting to be rescued singing "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life"- this is confirmed by my present employer who was serving on the rescue ship during this incident.

This book is similar to others by the Pythons in that it shows these guys still work incredibly hard.  Goes to show talents one thing but if you don't put in the yards the jobs only half done. The surviving Pythons are now all in their mid to late 70's and they are still doing projects.

Again, great fun, a light read, three hours with cups of teas will see it off on a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, February 10, 2019


The New Confessions, the extraordinary, candid story of John James Todd, a Scotsman born in 1899 and one of the great self appointed  geniuses of the 20th century.  His is an astonishingly rich and diverse career, with remarkable success and equally dramatic failures.  Told from the vantage point of not-so-serene old age and self imposed exile.  Todd lets us in on the secrets of his fraught and intriguing life. 

Beginning with his bizarre boyhood and schooldays in Scotland we move on to his incredible experiences of the First World War , and from there we follow his fretful progress through the Berlin of the Twenties, Mexico in 1939 and the Allied invasion of St Tropez and Los Angeles of the McCarthy era.

John James Todd , charming and exasperating, shrewd and unbelievably foolish, vain and disarmingly straight forward.

This is a  very good read, it takes us through interesting times with a man who may not always be telling us the truth, but the interest of the reader never drops off.

William Boyd in my opinion is at the very top of contemporary British novelists, always readable, always interesting.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

CHRONICLES OF WASTED TIME The Green Stick- Malcolm Muggeridge

This is the first memoir of Muggeridge, there is a second but a proposed third never eventuated.

This is the first time I've read this in about 15 years and it is still  some of the best writing you will ever come across.

Muggeridge may have been a A class hypocrite in his espousing of 'christian' values  all the while being an inveterate toucher of women.  Staff at the BBC had an acronym for him " NSIT" - Not Safe In Taxis, a title befitting a serial groper.  But this aside he was a brilliant user of the English language and this is a wonderful read.

Any aspiring communist out there should read this, have a think and then read it again.  Here is a man raised in a extreme left wing household.  The Webbs were family friends.  This is a man who with his wife actually sold up in England and moved to Russia, the workers paradise, and there he saw the friends 'disappearing' ,the machine at work. This experience turned him in to a right wing christian.

So, there is two excellent reason to read this, one, great writing, two, a time line on left wing disillusionment .  Recommended

Sunday, February 3, 2019


This is an amazing read covers from family history of Hitler through to Goebbels's family suicide.

Its a big book, literally, the first 950 pages are the rise and the last 200 are the fall, which when it came arrived fast.  The seeds for it, however, were sown at  El Alamein and Stalingrad, two huge defeats and Hitler becoming more and more unraveled.

I'm still astonished how nearly a hundred years after the fact a group of gangsters were able to take over a country and cause the deaths of millions. Chamberlain was weak and naive but at the end of the day it was the citizens of Germany who voted these monsters into power.

You have to ask the question, what is it with this country? Two world wars in the 20th century, common denominator, Germany.

History must never forget what Germany has done, from the stupid Nazi follower to the I.G Farben's who profited mightily from evil.

This is a book that should be taught right through the education system so every generation can see what politicians are capable of.