lauren scott and the seahorse, by chris jones, and trip to windsor and eton

lauren scott and the seahorse

(a teenager novel self-published by a friend)

a fantastic first chapter – a gripping opening, strongly establishing the futuristic london, and pulling my eyes along the lines of the page as the chase became intense; you knew roughly the violent way in which it would end, but that wasn’t a problem; you didn’t know why he was so desperate to reach someone with something before ‘they’ got him

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london’s hidden rivers and hamlet

london’s hidden rivers, by david fathers

north of the thames (west to east)

  • Stamford Brook
  • Counter’s Creek
  • River Westbourne
  • River Tyburn
  • River Fleet
  • Hackney Brook
  • River Walbrook

south of the thames (west to east)

  • Falcon Brook
  • River Effra
  • River Neckinger
  • Earl’s Sluice & River Peck

we forget that the land cities are built on was once the same as the land cities are not built on: fields, woods, streams and rivers

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being adam golightly and the ferryman

being adam golightly

an account of how a middle-aged widower with kids has begun to rebuild not his life but a new one – ‘not the same life as before but just a bit crappier’, but something different

the account becomes a meta-account of how the act of writing about being a middle-aged widower with kids building a new life itself builds the new life; his persona ‘adam’ develops a depth, a mini-history – the writing becomes a way of processing the pain, both his own and that of his wife’s friends and family, who followed the course of adam’s grief every saturday morning in a national newspaper: turning himself inside out to the public, like a starfish, made darkness visible, scared the spooks; in short, helped

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the day of the triffids and a visit to bamford quaker community

the day of the triffids

far better than i expected (i’d grabbed it from a friend’s shelves in a oh-i-haven’t-read-that-and-really-should-have mood) (though i had enjoyed the midwich cuckoos) – a dark, sober, and believable evocation of london as it might be if 98% of people awoke one morning blind; it’s a mix of on the one hand despairing, isolated, suicides and, on the other, more positive people forming groups to work out their survival – some of which are hidebound, by their social conditioning, to fail

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silence and the shape of water

SPOILERS

silence

shusaku endo’s novel (and scorsese’s film) is set during the persecution of portuguese jesuit missionaries in 16th-century japan, but its impact is more 20th-century existential: the story of rodriguez’s slow progress to apostasy is closer to winston smith’s growing to love big brother in orwell’s 1984: the two protagonists’ end-states are similar – defeated by torture, and acquiescent (at least) in the locally dominant ideology

for orwell it’s pretty clear that winston’s end is a bad one – he has been defeated, and defeated into thinking that his defeat is good; and for endo too, yes, rodriguez has been defeated, and similarly defeated into thinking his defeat is good – but the difference is that orwell & winston disagree, but endo & rodriguez (i think) agree

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the scythians at the british museum

interesting to think about the contrast between the rich, immersive environment created by the exhibition’s curators and the paucity of hard evidence of how the scythians actually lived their lives – so many conclusions are based on guesswork from knowledge of the geographical and climatic constraints on their lives, and from ethnographic analogues

visitors were made, as far as possible in a modern museum suite, to imagine that they were there in the steppe – projected vistas of grassy plains (sometimes with animated mounted warriors), audio loops of human shouts and equine snortings, the whole set of rooms in dark browns, olives and greens

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The Moral Maze on veganism and animal rights (Radio 4)

Panel:
chair: Michael Buerk
human exceptionalist: Clare Fox
three worried carnivores: Ann McElvoy, Matthew Taylor (whose book The Philosopher and the Wolf I later read), Giles Fraser

interviews
Anthony Warner (The Angry Chef)
Claim: ‘no guilt or shame about what you eat’
He was naïve and unthinking, and treated thus in the subsequent discussion. He hadn’t really thought about it and didn’t seem to understand the point of the question ‘What about eating dogs then?’.

Samantha Calvert (the Vegan Society)
GF: Is it the same, eating a chimpanzee or a fly?

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