Tuesday, August 19, 2008
There is a superb article in the Guardian on Richard Price, who has written several fantastic books, including The Wanderer as well as a couple of superb screenplays, including the vastly under rated Sea of Love and has been a contributor The Wire. If you aren't familiar with him, you are in for a treat and I recommend that you read Clockers and Samaritan before anything else, then proceed with caution, as some of his early stuff is a bit crap.
The first chapter of his latest, Lush Life.
Years ago, I read The Grass Arena, by John Healy, which was an astonishing book. Healy had led a thoroughly miserable life and as a tale of redemption and as a story that should bring hope to anyone, whatever their background and circumstances, this ranks up there alongside Jimmy Boyle. It has now been reissued and if you haven't read it, I urge you too, this man has earned every single penny of royalty he gets.
There is a very good piece on Healy here, by another reformed bad boy.
Having a little browse around the consistently superb Cwmbran Library the other day, I came across the new James Kelman. I was a bit surprised, because I am a huge fan of Kelman and consider him to be the nations best writer, by some distance. I had remained completely unaware that he had published a new novel though. It had slipped completely beneath my radar, and it's not a slight thing, it is bloody huge. How can this be; do you think that huge new novels by the likes of Rushdie, or Amis or Mcewan, detailing the minutiae of middle class life would be issued with so little fanfare? I don't.
A very good piece on snobbery towards Scottish writers.
It would take someone much more curmudgeonly than me not to be delighted for the athletes who have been winning medals for the nation in China, not that I have seen much of it as the radio tells me everything I need to know before I even rise from my pit, plus, in the sports that we have done well in............ well. I wasn't interested in them 4 weeks ago and I'm not really interested in them now and I certainly won't be interested in them in two weeks time,however much the media circus insists that we are all showjumping, sailing, rowing and cycling aficianados now.
I don't think it's over curmudgeonly to feel pretty nauseated by the BBC's coverage either; the next time they bleat about the licence fee, I hope someone has totted up the cost of the corporations Olympic coverage, which has been bloated, to say the least. How many ex athletes are being paid to offer banal insights? Jesus, is too much to ask for a bit of critical analysis as to opposed to endless cheerleading for "Team GB"?
Still, the cycling has been superb.
For all the success, I will not deviate from my position that the London Olympics are a waste of money and that if we genuinely want to create a lasting sporting legacy for the nation, all that money would have been better spent on creating and improving facilities in every community in the land; in providing facilities in state schools that are comparable to those found in public schools and in ensuring that access to clean, warm, welcoming facilities is easy and cheap, and to providing access to sports that are not necessarily competitive, for the old, the fat and the feeble amongst us...................that's me, that is.
We are a nation of couch potatoes, fatties and diabetics. We drink too much, we smoke too much, we eat shit all day long and we sit on our fat behinds exacerbating our health problems, building up cholesterol and raising our blood pressure. Our youth is disaffected and rat like, hanging around trying their best to look menacing. Many of us would prefer to type gibberish on the internet than go for a run. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, but it is a problem that affects mainly those in the lowest income groups, who lack motivation, who lack access to good facilities; who can't afford membership fees. All that money spent on the London Olympics would have gone a long way to addressing and resolving these issues.
It is noticeable that we have done better in sports where the initial outlay is pretty expensive, horse riding, boating, cycling and the like. I have no idea what the class profile of our winners is, but I strongly suspect that many of them had privileged backgrounds and had access to sporting facilities not readily available to the hoi polloi. Finland might not win many gold medals (where art thou, Lasse Vieran?) but it's citizens are much fitter and healthier than ours. I might be wrong though; not everyone called Pippa is necessarily a posh tart, I suppose.
None of which matters, because proper sport has been with us for two weeks now and Blues have managed to win three games on the trot, including a victory away from home having gone behind. So, hip hip hurrah for Team GB and come on you Blues my little chuffing lovelies.
Many Blues fans have been telling people like me, who think we should piss all over the Championship, that we know nothing, that the Championship is a tough league and that we will struggle. I acknowledge that it is early days yet, but I also acknowledge that they are all talking shit; this league is no good, last seasons excitement was due to most of the teams being rubbish, rather than good. Blues haven't even played well yet, and already we look comfortable; they may as well call a halt to proceedings now and just hand us the title.
Not that I'm over excited. Eck keeps telling us about the beautiful game that he wants us to play, but our players seem incapable of it and soon resort to the long ball, or, worse, to just shifting the ball on............ getting rid of it, rather than passing it, and Eck himself has complained that we indulge in too much tippy tappy. I think the problem (not that it is much of a problem in this league)is that our strikers remain divorced from the rest of the team; there is little coherence between midfield and attack; it is noticeable that our best moments have been when Larrson has come in from the wing and created an extra link. Of course we now have Quincy, who looks like he has the ability to unlock any cattenaccio, at will. Thank God we got relegated, this is going to be one hell of a season!