keresaspa: (Seagull)
It's ate bread now given that I've been home since Sunday and, as I suspected, the Dreamwidth exodus seems to have killed this journal stone dead but the tenth annual London extravaganza probably needs to be recorded anygate.

Ergo )
keresaspa: (Diggory)
The short version of this is that London was rather good apart from the going and the coming, which were hell on earth. On the off-chance that anybody is still reading this (and I note in my extended absence that I am now down to one person submitting regular updates on my friends list) I shall expand at some length about what took place.

The Austrian stork nurtures the kites )
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Every time I post to this now I seem to begin with a note to excuse my absence due to the paucity of updates. What can I say, less than auspicious days recently. In the meanwhile however a standing engagement in Edinburgh took me across the sea once more and, as ever, I shall betell the events.

Lay on, MacDuff )

2015 thing

Jan. 1st, 2016 09:03 pm
keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
Two days running? God, it's been years since that sort of rot. Anyway:

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Left the Atlantic Archipelago (that's British Isles to you imperialists).

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Never do, never will.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Two of the Donegal Celtic mob died - one from cancer, the other took his own life. To be honest though I didn't know either of them that well.

5. What countries did you visit?
France, Scotland and England. I actually visited a personal best of 24 towns and cities this year, with Larne, Newry, Dun Laoghaire, Banbridge, Paris and Dunfermline all new to me.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Cash on demand, same as every year.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm very stereotypically male about remembering dates so none.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Dunno.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Dunno.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Usual haemochromatosis plus my vertigo has kicked into overdrive to the point where massive turns are now a daily occurrence and some can last for several hours. I've started having the odd fall as well.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
As noted recently, Mirel Wagner albums.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Oh, you're all great.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Here's a shock - Sinn Fein. I'm not sure if I mentioned that at any time last year.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Music as ever. Trips and that too I suppose.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Don't be silly.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"The Road and the Miles to Dundee" by Jim Reid And The Foundry bar Band or "Pasties and Cream" by Brenda Wootton. Neither are available online though so I can't link to them (is it just me or has YouTube removed about half of its music videos in the last week or so?).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same
b) thinner or fatter? ditto
c) richer or poorer? ditto

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Nothing in particular.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Again, nothing springs to mind.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
It's already over so....

21. What was your favourite month of 2015?
No idea. August maybe.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Don't be daft.

23. How many one-night stands?
Mind your own business.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
I've pretty much given up on TV these days. I don't even bother watching the football on Saturday nights sometimes any more.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't think so, although my opinion of Simon Danczuk is really starting to harden.

26. What was the best book you read?
No idea. Been mostly short stories and non-fiction this year. Of the former William Beckford's "Vathek" was probably the best.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mirel Wagner, as discussed yesterday.

28. What did you want and get?
A new article to get published in When Saturday Comes (in shops 14th January).

29. What did you want and not get?
The new Extreme Noise Terror album, although a copy is winging its way to me from Germany. I'll believe it when I get it and not before as it's fast becoming the new "Things may Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever" for me.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I think I saw a total of two films on TV this year (Midnight Run on ITV Four one night and Despicable Me dubbed into French in Paris) and none in the cinema. Any interest I ever had in films has long since died off.

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Watched Nortel defeat Mossley 4-2 at the Mossley playing fields in the second round of the Border Regiment Cup. It was even less glamorous than it sounds.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
As ever, isn't this essentially the same as question six?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
I wouldn't. I haven't changed a lick of my image in years but to call it a "fashion concept" would be completely ludicrous. If pushed I'll go with "man who looks a lot older than he is dressing to his wrongly assumed age".

34. What kept you sane?
Assuming I am sane, then the match.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Demi Lovato. I may have the makings of a dirty old man. But come on, eh?!

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The quiet death of Irish republicanism and its rebirth as Tory collaborationism, all with the tacit approval of the victims of this development.

37. Who did you miss?
Cigs as ever.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Can't think of anyone. I've not really met anyone new this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
No.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Poor old horse, he must die".

Paris

Aug. 29th, 2015 11:07 pm
keresaspa: (Seagull)
Hello you *waves*. Yeah, just back from Paris and that, which, of course, means I have to go on at length about the last week. Apologies in advance if this gets a bit incoherent but you should all be used to that by now.

Lundi )

Mardi )

Mercredi )

Jeudi )

Vendredi )
keresaspa: (Huffy beardy weirdy)
When I was in my early teens and everybody was wearing lumberjacks shirts/fila boots, listening to Nirvana/Scooter and indulging in underage drinking and fornication, I was a sensitive young intellectual who felt the need to finally acquaint himself with the literary classics. Being a burgeoning hoarder but having very little money I was more than thankful for the sudden onslaught of Wordsworth Editions, with their cheap and cheerful, pound-a-pop reprints of this, that and the other, and as time went on I accrued a sizeable collection of their output. All great stuff, some of which I still retain to this day.

But time passed and I too discovered the dubious pleasures of the bottle and the flesh and, as previously discussed in entries passim, my passion for reading fiction dimmed into nothingness. Then, as also previously discussed, I pulled myself kicking and screaming out of the slump just over two years ago and decided it was time to get back on the horse. It's been a bumpy ride I must admit. I've battered through a few authors (notably Virginia Woolf, who just might be my favourite these days) but have still found a lot of others a slog and various abandoned books lie around the house, bookmarks wedged in about a third of the way through with their plots either forgotten entirely or muddied with the plots of other, similarly derelict, titles. Picking up a book like that is like trying to have a conversation with somebody who believes in the Illuminati - you know there's something going on but it's all so idiotically nonsensical that you just have to throw your hands up and walk away*.

Once again however Wordsworth have come to the rescue. After a quiet spell they have once again flooded the market with their inferior paperstock wonders and have formed an axis of evil with Poundland, who now stock a bunch of their titles. Best of the lot so far have been their "Tales of Mystery & the Supernatural" anthologies, a bugger-load of which found their way into the branch in Ballymena. Mostly novellas and short story collections, perfect for those trying hard to break a fiction drought†, at a quid it's hard to complain. As such, even though the likes Lafcadio Hearn, Gertrude Atherton and H.D. Everett were previously unknown to me, I can now satisfy my urges to read more books and own more books, with getting distracted by other silliness. Just the ticket, as I'm sure you'll agree.

* Politicians and governments spend the vast majority of their time crapping all over you to the extent that if people ever actually sat and thought about what was being openly done to them they would storm their leaders immediately. But no, why bother thinking about what they're actually doing to you when you can make up a bunch of crap about a long-defunct, and very minor, group of Bavarian weirdos and how people positioning their hands in a certain way in photographs or calling their children Blue Vinny means they're part of a secret cabal controlling the world. And yes, I know this has sod all to do with this post but really those Illuminati/New World Order conspiracy theory morons really do get on my tit-end something rotten. Open your bloody eyes and see what they're doing to you for real instead of wasting your time looking for made-up bollocks! Sorry for getting sidetracked but I had to get that off my chest. Even us paranoid commies who see conspiracies everywhere have limits when it comes to complete and utter tosh.

†None of these woes apply to non-fiction. Give me 800 pages of dryness about inter-war fascist movements or an exhaustive encyclopedia of new religions and I'll waltz through them in a couple of days.
keresaspa: (Seagull)
As I believe I have previously mentioned for the last year or so I've been endeavouring to read more fiction. It had been some years since I sidelined that aspect of my reading in favour of drier, more academic non-fiction but I was inspired to return by Hope Mirrlees and that has continued, on and off, ever since. Fortunately I had a good run since then, with only Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness proving any sort of chore to get through (I know it's labelled a classic and it's short but I found it a right slog personally) but with my most recent effort that came to a crash landing.

I recently chanced upon a charity shop where the books were going two for one and I'm always loath to turn up my nose at a bargain so, alongside the copy of Old Amos that I wanted, I took a chance on another book. Perhaps the alarm bells would have rung had I noticed that on the cover one of the praiseworthy quotes was from claw-handed chanteuse Madonna and they certainly did when the introduction mentioned it was the favourite book of Fireflies in the Garden star Julia Roberts (I'm struggling to think of two bigger New Age Hollywood tosspots than Tadger-Arms and Woolly-Oxters frankly). But I persevered anyway, trudging through about 150 pages of the biggest load of SoCal psycho-babble that I've ever had the misfortune to endure, a pile of follow-your-heart, anything-is-possible, airy-fairy drivel clearly aimed at fluffy-headed upper middle class women drunk on their own sense of self-importance, with a completely non sequitur bit of soppy love crap tacked on one bit, presumably to appeal to the aforementioned fluffy-headed bints, the sort who would most likely hug the book once they finished reading it. Not my reaction, unless tossing a paperback in the general direction of the bin can be described as a hug. Generally speaking I avoid modern fiction and if this is the sort of stuff that they're churning out now I think I'll continue in that same vein.

I've always dodged the question "what's the worst book you've ever read" as I had yet to encounter one that had genuinely left me with the feeling that the time spent reading it had been time utterly wasted. Well, that's all history now as I can finally pinpoint the worst book I've heard read. Take a bow Paulo Coelho because your book The Alchemist is the biggest pile of shite I've ever encountered.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
It's an annual tradition of mine to buy the Sky Sports Football Yearbook. There was a time I was first in the queue on the day it came out (well, the day after, given that almost everything takes an extra day to reach this backwater burgh of mine) but now that boyhood fire is no longer in my blood I tend to wait until around this time as by now Waterstone's (they can drop the apostrophe all they want, I'm leaving it in) have usually knocked a fiver off the price and when you're living under the yoke of brutal monetarism you need every penny.

In recent years the grand old annual has begun to look a little creaky as problems have sneaked in and, having got my copy a few days ago, I regret to report that it shows no signs of improving but rather is getting worse. The standard gripe about the book is the fact that they list all winners of the Football League as a single entity, relegating the achievements of all those clubs that were champions of England before 1992 to the same level as those that won the second tier afterwards. It's probably not worth bothering about that though as, even when it was the Rothmans, Jack Rollin was adamant he wouldn't stop doing that and there is no chance of it changing now that it is part of Rupert Murdoch's hype machine. All real supporters know that Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough getting promotion are not comparable to Huddersfield's trio, Liverpool's umpteen or the rest, but it still causes needless confusion with regards to Newcastle United, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Portsmouth, the five clubs to win both "versions" of the First Division.

But as I say, not worth worrying about as that won't change no matter how much people want it to do so. Besides, there are plenty of other problems with the book that could be fixed. Time was I could flick through the yearbook to find out who finished where in, say, the United Counties League but those days are gone. Coverage, perfunctory at best, ends with the top divisions of the the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian leagues with all other parts of the pyramid, along with the leagues under the auspices of the Amateur Football Alliance (admittedly of no interest to me personally, but others may well care), jettisoned, presumably to make way for the line-ups of every Champions League match to have taken place in the previous season. Perhaps I'm just out of step with what the modern consumer of football wants but for an almanac of British football surely it is much more important to include the final table for NPL Division One South than it is to include the full line-ups for AIK Solna v Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. By all means include the line-ups for the British teams in Europe and their opponents but the rest is a waste of space and I'm sure in no way connected to Sky Sports holding the rights to the Champions League.

The length and breadth of the book clearly makes it a massive undertaking so errors are inevitable but some of them are simply chronic. A lot of the information for the Scottish clubs seems badly researched, with the record transfer fees in particular looking rather outdated in a number of cases, but there are some pretty basic goofs. Livingston have apparently never had a player capped at full international level whilst at the club, something that will come as a surprise to Marvin Andrews, Horace Stoute, Gustave Bahoken, Chérif Touré Mamam and the other Livvy Lions to have represented their respective countries whilst on the books at Almondvale. Player records are also prone to problems. I was surprised to learn that I apparently dreamt Marc-Antoine Fortuné's 2009 spell at West Bromwich Albion as, according to the yearbook, he went straight from AS Nancy to Celtic. I would love to know who that was that scored two in the 3-1 win over Wigan then as he didn't half look like the big Guianese.

The inconsistent approach to best wins and worst defeats is also somewhat maddening. My understanding was that "Record League Victory", "Record Cup Victory" and "Record Defeat" meant in senior competition but this only seems to be observed in some cases. Fleetwood Town have, of course, only completed one season in the Football League but listing their record victory as 13-0 makes no sense when it was against Oldham Town in the North-West Counties League. Compare this to fellow relative newcomers Crawley Town, whose record victory is given (correctly) as 5-2 v AFC Wimbledon in League Two. Are we supposed to believe that big spenders like Crawley never managed better than a three goal win in non-league circles? Bollocks they didn't! Fleetwood's record victory should have been given as their 4-0 against Morecambe otherwise the book is using different standards to judge different clubs and creating pointless inequality. Stevenage's 7-0 record defeat against Southwick and Elgin City's 18-1 record win over Brora Rangers are among other results that should follow the Fleetwood one into the bin. Alternatively go through the history of every club and list their genuine biggest wins and worst defeats, taking in every bit of non-league they have ever played. Personally though I think the former solution is much more sensible but even the latter would be an improvement on the current mix and match approach.

The "did you know" features added to each English club page were also pretty lacklustre this year. Albion's duo this time out were one about the Chambers brothers becoming the first twins to represent England at any level (widely reported at the time but probably forgotten outside the Hawthorns now, so fair enough) and the fact that in 1888 FA Cup holders Albion lost 4-1 to Scottish Cup holders Renton in a match billed as the "Championship of the World". You don't say? As football trivia goes this is possibly the best-known titbit about the Victorian game going and anybody with even a slight knowledge of the history of the sport in Britain (which, let's face it, is everybody who buys the book) will know this like the back of their hand. If it continues in this vein we can expect the Manchester United page next season to have as its "did you know" that they once had a manager called Alex Ferguson who won some trophies.

It pains me to write this stuff in many ways as I love the Rothmans like my own sweet life and want it to continue forever. But in this day and age of online databases and instant access to the most minute of football information it is important for it to stay relevant and not drive people away with sloppy work and pointless stubbornness. If the Sky Sports Football Yearbook dies because, despite all efforts, it just can't compete with the internet then that would be a disappointment but if it dies because of neglect then that would be a crying shame. Time to pull your fingers out and rescue this design classic from the doldrums before it's too late.
keresaspa: (Tinker's rucksack)
When I was young and my feet were narrow and splayed I had, like many boys who don't excel at sport, a keen interest in all things mediaeval. I liked nothing better than tales of King Arthur and his knights, or the exploits of Saladin, Barbarossa, Sir John Fastolf and the rest. Whilst many will recall their favourite childhood book as being some old rubbish by Roald Dahl, or something more worthy of praise like Wind in the Willows my personal favourite around the age of nine and ten was unquestionably Grant Uden's Dictionary of Chivalry. A copy nestled in my local library and I regularly borrowed it, marvelling not only at the accessible treatment it gave to all those great figures, the arms and armour, the siege warfare, the heraldry and even the types of horses, falcons and the like but also the wonderful period-styled illustrations of Pauline Baynes whose deft touch gave every page the feel of a bestiary or mappa mundi. I always wanted to own a copy of the book but even by the mid to late 80s it was already well out of print and eventually it all came to an end anyway when the book disappeared from the shelves altogether, presumably requested by somebody in Magherafelt or Gilford and thus effectively lost to a lad who had no idea about inter-library loans.

But it remained with me nevertheless. The inevitable route for a child obsessed with the Middle Ages was role-playing games and when I came to design my own settings for my Advanced Dungeons and Dragons campaign little snippets from Uden's tome came back to me and influenced my design. Cordova featured in the book as a centre of the Mediaeval leather-working industry and so it became the elven stronghold in my campaign whilst kindly King Gramercy's name was derived from Henry of Lancaster's devotional work "Mercy Gramercy" that I read about in Uden. I even sneaked a quick peak on ebay a few years back just in case a copy was going begging but to no avail.

Well, all that has changed now. During a recent visit to Bookends in Bangor I chanced upon their history section, largely because they were running a quick half price sale to celebrate their tenth anniversary. I noticed a book about the knights and a quick thought that a copy of Uden's masterpiece might be there flashed through my head. Sure enough I shifted a couple of books out of the way and there it was in the flesh (well, the paper and leather, I suppose). A quest that had lasted as long as 25 years was fulfilled in one fell swoop and now I can finally turn round and look at my very own copy of A Dictionary of Chivalry. A minor anecdote, of course, but in some ways a culmination of a long search and, given that it was through Bookends that I was reunited with my personal copy of Roy Jenkins' biography, further proof that that fine establishment on Dufferin Avenue is uncanny.

Cor blimey

Jul. 17th, 2013 10:13 pm
keresaspa: (Albert Gladstone Trotter)
Hello you. Yes it was London time again recently but I got back too late last night to record my exploits. Never fear, I'm here now to "entertain" the reading some with every minor detail. "Enjoy".

Hit it )
keresaspa: (Nina Wadia)
So I disappear for fifteen days and livejournal tries to sneak its awful new interface for posting entries on me by force. Sod that, switch to old version forthwith. And whilst we are at it, is it a general thing for everybody that clicking on an interest on a userpage always returns no matches regardless or is that just me? This place is falling apart and may God almighty and St Cuthbert be angry with them if they don't get their acts together soon.

As to that fifteen day absence it is explained by a combination of a general ennui at the slow death of this site as well as the fact that my laptop had gone east for a while last weekend. I did have access to a creaking old desktop computer that [livejournal.com profile] queenmartina had long since cast aside like so much mechanically recovered BSE carcass meat but it was used only in fits and starts as I am loathe to touch other people's electronics for fearing of buggering them up, even those that lie unloved. I was without my own for five days or so but I managed to survive fairly well thanks to (in no particular order) a jolly outing to dear old Ballymena, Virgin Media's on demand service being well stocked with episodes of Bo Selecta, another instalment in Donegal Celtic's inexorable rush to relegation (well, it will suit me as I will have a team in each of three divisions next season), yet another spot of painting and another bit of reading this time with the oddball mix of Walter de la Mare (who, like the previously mentioned Hope Mirrlees, was going great guns until a duffer of an ending) and Franz Kafka ("The Metamorphosis" = a masterpiece but "In the Penal Colony" = crap). It was an old fashioned experience not having immediate internet access but if Led Zeppelin have a top ten album and Richard Edmonds is back in the NF (who will they dig up next, Robert Relf?) then perhaps the archaic is the zeitgeist. Or something like that.

Still it was worth it in the end because when the beast was returned to me the transformation was intense. The improved response from the internet was what I had hoped for but a bunch of other problems I hadn't even noticed are now banished to the land of wind and ghosts. Until now I had assumed the myriad time lags I had to endure were all part of the package but every man jack of them has now been exorcised and I have yet to hear the dreaded beep of doom once since the contraption was returned from [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks' dexterous digits. Were we not old chums I would have called for him to burnt as a warlock, such has been the transformation in the hitherto tired old apparatus. I don't know what you did but I'm awful glad you did it because whatever the processes this old monster has never worked as well before, not even when it was fresh out of the box.
keresaspa: (Ye olde Harry Secombe)
During the course of my life I have went through a number of phases when it comes to the act of reading. When I was but a child I had little time or inclination for reading. Quite why I can't remember (my memories of childhood are pretty scant to be honest) although I do seem to recall being singularly underwhelmed by the literature we were pushed towards as it was all either Roald Dahl - whose writing I have nursed a deep-seated hatred for ever since - or yawn-inducers about children having so called adventures. Not the Famous Five and the like, which was just too jolly Old England for anybody to even think about trying to sell to the offspring of Irish republicans, but "one child's struggle" sort of books which, whilst in retrospect perfectly innocuous, did not appeal to my young self because they were rooted too much in mundane reality.

I was probably about ten before reading started to hold an appeal and about 12 before I really got into it but by then it was entirely non-fiction as the other kind seemed a bit pointless to me. Sherlock Holmes was probably the only exception as I would happily chew through the short stories, a pleasure that has never left me despite them seeming increasingly hard to swallow the older I have grown. My attitudes relaxed when I turned around 15 and decided that it was fine to enjoy both intellectual and lowbrow pursuits and that I could happily enjoy rock music, football and bad TV without becoming a moron so I returned to fiction, going through phases of reading the classics, Inspector Morse, Rumpole of the Bailey and Len Deighton before a combination of university and sweet lady alcohol intervened to ensure that my reading time was slashed and what I had was given over to study reading.

But eventually I found the time again as studying became second nature and alcohol's role diminished and I broadened my reading, discovering my well established favourites like de Nerval, Garcia Marquez and Turgenev. Then suddenly I stopped. Like most of the crashes I've had I reckon it occurred around the time I gave up smoking but ever since I have reverted to my twenty years ago state of finding fiction a waste of time and only reading about reality. Suddenly having the internet at home probably didn't help either. I made attempts to ease myself out of my slump. Daisy Miller was read several months ago - the sort of novella that in my peak I would have demolished in a day. I made it through to the end but it was a real slog and by the time it was over I would have happily flushed its stained pages down the crapper. Rumpole books were procured from charity shops on the off-chance but they lay unloved and most recently I battled my way through a few Edgar Allen Poe stories until I could take no more and tossed the book in a box to fester.

Then suddenly it happened - out of nowhere I read about a book and became consumed with the fire of old that I had to get a copy and read it now. I tried a variety of shops but nothing so in the end I gave up and went on ebay, finally netting a copy last week. And yea it was like old times as I flew through, at last feeling once more that wonderful separation anxiety that a really good book gives you when you aren't reading it. The ending was pretty disappointing but that wasn't really the point, the important thing is I believe I have finally rediscovered the pleasure of fiction and I owe my rebirth to Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, the very definition of forgotten gem. Given that my computer will soon be taking a trip westward to get the [livejournal.com profile] burkesworks treatment and I recently got a haul of books from the closing down sale of the discount bookshop in Bangor this renaissance is as serendipitous as they come as I will have both the time and the material. And I owe it all to Nathaniel Chanticleer.
keresaspa: (Geoffrey of Monmouth)
I found myself in nearby Bangor today (inevitable really as I always decide to wander when torrential rain arrives) and in that town there is a bookshop that sells its entirely second hand stock at the price of £1 per book. Unsurprisingly given that this malefaction of a recession shows no signs of buggering off it was today wearing a "closing down sale" sign, although of course when your base price is a quid a book it is hard to have much of a sale. Indeed the prices had been frozen, albeit with an existing five books for the price of four offer reset as four for three.

Anyway as I was browsing the politics section I chanced upon an old biography of Roy Jenkins, written not long after the owiginal Woy had decided to form his won fly-by-night vanity project in the Social Democratic Party. I had a chuckle to myself as I remembered that I had owned a copy of the very same book several years ago and then it dawned on me that it was a book I rather wished I hadn't gotten rid of so I picked up the copy on offer for a brief thumb. Imagine my amazement when I went to the frontispiece and discovered in my own fifteen year old handwriting "John Morrow 22nd December 1994". Yup, it was the exact same book that I had released into the ether probably around fourteen years ago or so staring at me bold as brass. How it ended up in Bangor I have no idea but the old romantic in me was rather moved by a shock reunion with something I had owned all those years ago. Of course I bought it there and then and it is now back where it belongs. Down the years I have owned more books than I can recall and sent a good number of them packing too but this is the first time I can remember ever ending up with the exact same copy twice. I think it happened once before with a book about Nineteenth Century boxing but it was always in the back of my head that I was just convincing myself it was the same copy. Now however the proof is there is scrawly blue writing. Serendipity defined I reckon and a really rather delightful coincidence.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Well I don't often write on here at any length any more but thanks to the timely intervention of [livejournal.com profile] bombardiette I am about to. Finally a meme that has allowed, nay forced, me to think deeply and even allowed me the opportunity to get all ideological on your arses. Corking stuff. So anyway -

The rules: "Comment to this post and I will list seven things I want you to talk about. They might make sense or they might be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself."

The seven topics I have been given are as follows:

1. The Irish Diaspora
2. America
3. The Catholic Church
4. The EU
5. Literature
6. War
7. Look at the city from an outsider's perspective. What do you see?

Very long-winded and pretentious waffle herein )

That's one from the golden days of livejournal when people used this as a forum for extended free form essays before Twitter and Facebook killed off brain cells and reduced communication to a couple of half-formed sentences. Well, I certainly enjoyed doing it even if you didn't enjoy reading a little of it before thinking "sod this" and playing Angry Birds instead. O tempora o mores!
keresaspa: (Scrubber Daley)
Acting on the advice of a recent poster campaign I decided to pay a visit to the Belfast's "4th Annual Anarchist Book Fair" today. Pretty disappointing all things considered, as I really don't count two half-empty tables, one containing only leaflets and pamphlets, as a book fair. For me that's simply a room with a couple of books in it. Not only that but the prices were far too rich for my blood, leaning decidedly towards the capitalist rather than the anarchist end of things. Nothing took my fancy in the end and I resisted the temptation to join some "workshop" in which a bunch of scruffs sat around trying to convince each other that because everything is now run on co-operative models (news to me) we are mere weeks away from true anarchy. OK. I'm no anarchist as you all know but I have no beef with them as they are nice, hope-filled dreamers but they really do need to get a little bit of irony about what they do because for the brief spell I spent at their book fair I felt like I was in a bad 20th Century Coyote sketch.

So I left empty-handed but luckily it was still early and this being the last day of the Irish League season I decided to pay another visit to Donegal Celtic, reasoning that I had yet to see their opponents Carrick Rangers in action and with their relegation imminent I might not get another chance to see them any time soon (and obviously only a fool or a madman omits seeing Carrick Gers in the flesh from his bucket list). My initial intention had been to walk the full distance but time beat me and by the time I reached the Kennedy Centre on the Upper Falls I was forced to surrender and hail one of those black taxis that link the western inner city with the sink estates that form the meat in the sandwich between Belfast and Lisburn. A Twinbrook taxi meant being left near the fortress that is Woodbourne RUC barracks PSNI lovely place and a run up the Suffolk Road itself but I made it in plenty of time to see the soi disant Amber Army make their entrance. I did a quick headcount from the home stand from which I estimate forty hardy souls made the trip from John de Courcy's old stamping ground (not to mention their Lisburn supporters club, which appeared to have one member) to the wilds of Glengoland so it was more like the Amber Platoon rather than an army. Mind you the home support was hardly overwhelming and all things considered I reckon if the gate broke three figures it wasn't by much. It's all glamour at the Irish League.

To the credit of the Platoon it must be said that they were in good voice from start to finish despite the fact that this was their last game in the top division before being dispatched to the even more glamorous environs of Coagh, Castlederg and Tobermore. Initially hate-filled, telling us that they hated "Portadown, Linfield ... Cliftonville too (they're shit) ... [and] Ballyclare Comrades [nothing like a bit of East Antrim provincialism]", they soon fell back on an interminable rendition of "when the Gers go marching in" before dusting off a rather inventive take on the "Blaydon Races", with lyrics rewritten to apply to Carrickfergus. As to the match itself, anybody who hadn't seen these two for the first time would be surprised to hear that Carrick were the team on their way down and DC were the comfortable in mid-table side thirteen points (at kick off) above them. Carrick were a bustling, busy side of battlers whose vocal fans will probably be asking themselves why their team didn't manage to play like this all season as, with the exception of a sweetly-struck free kick from Paul McVeigh for the home side, Carrick were on top throughout the first half and were unlucky not to go in at half-time with a bigger lead than 3-1. Somewhat surprisingly given Carrick's associations with loyalism and DC's republican identity the Amber Platoon were permitted into the home stand at half time to get their grub and even more surprisingly there was not even a hint of trouble. Indeed the whole thing was amazingly good natured, with the home support, a resolutely non-singing bunch who generally only puncture the silence with yelled expletives, rather taking to the sing-song East Antrim lot and rather enjoying their enthusiasm.

The second half was a rather more even affair, albeit with Carrick still on top, and it was frequently end-to-end stuff with the frankly ludicrous final score of DC 3 Carrick 5 establishing a new personal record for the highest-scoring match I have ever attended. What had started as a balmy enough spring afternoon had, by the second half given way to a sudden outbreak of bitter cold, not helped by the Suffolk Road's mountainous location and even a notorious cheapskate like me was forced to give up the ghost and splurge some of my coppers on a cup of tea, the first in at least a year for various reasons. By the time the madness ended it all became ridiculously polite as the DC supporters lined up to applaud the half-appreciative, half-embarrassed Carrick Rangers victors off the pitch in a rather touching gesture of sportsmanship and the Carrick supporters were brought back to the home stand to board their coach which had been parked behind it beside the social club. Everything was so nice that even as I waited at the Suffolk Road bus stop after the match and the Carrick supporters bus drove slowly past not only did nobody give me the finger or make a tosser gesture but a couple of them even gave a polite wave as if to say "hope to be back here the season after next". As football matches go this was practically a love-in at times.

So all in all jolly good fun in the end, despite the anarchist book fair being a bit of a washout. The standards of the Irish League are unquestionably woeful but it is rough and ready fun and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to watch Celtic and Rangers playing each other without all Hell breaking loose. Good luck to Carrick Rangers for next season as they are a good-humoured crew of roustabouts whilst for my part I will look forward to renewing my acquaintance with Suffolk Road in the autumn.
keresaspa: (Idi Amin)
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob
 

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
 
Literate Good Citizen
 
Dedicated Reader
 
Non-Reader
 
Fad Reader
 
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Interesting result from an old school meme there. It never occurred to me that my reading was mainly for a bizarre and largely discredited economic theory to do with national dividends and printing money as devised by C.H. Douglas in the 1920s and subsequently promulgated by John Hargrave, William Aberhart, John Beckett and some Antipodean oddballs. Well that is what Social Credit actually means. Perhaps if the creator of this test spent more time reading books than making little quizzes about them he or she would have known that already. You can't out-pedant a pedant, kiddo. Now get a dictionary and look up the word "kudos" which is I believe the word you wanted. Or do people just read dictionaries for "social credit" as well?

Sorry but I couldn't let that one pass, now could I? But to other things. The wind today dragged me in the direction of Ballymena, a town to the north and one which I may have rubbished occasionally in the past on here. If I'm being fully honest I had never actually set foot in the place until today and I must say it is an odd little burgh to say the least. I'm told it is three quarters Protestant and whilst there are Catholics there they certainly need to know their place (in the middle of the loyalist Harryville estate and covered in paint being their place in this case). Well it can certainly be said to be Protestant town when they have King Billy murals in the town centre and all the second hand shops are full to bursting with copies of the entire back catalogue of the Reverend William McCrea. They even give a rare outing to Iron Maiden mascot Eddie, who once upon a time was ubiquitous in his role as unofficial mascot of the South-East Antrim brigade of the UDA but has fallen off the radar somewhat since John Gregg bought it on his way back from Ibrox. Always nice to see the old school, even if it seems odd given the fact Ballymena is nowhere near South-East Antrim really, being more in the centre or north of the county, and is the sort of Bible belt place where local boy done good Ian Paisley would normally lead his followers in denouncing Iron Maiden as agents of Satan. But despite all this, not to mention the impenetrable shit-kicker accents and the fact that seemingly every man is called Billy, I have to say I found Ballymena to be a nice enough town and as good a place as any to freeze myself to death on a gelid December afternoon. Kudos (remember that word, meme writer) to you Ballymena, I shall never criticise the City of the Seven Towers again. Well, not for the rest of the day anyway.

And once again I cross my fingers as I press post.
keresaspa: (Geoffrey of Monmouth)
We all get them. The begging letter from a deposed general you have never heard of promising you untold riches in return for full access to your bank details and maybe a bit of scrouse to get the ball rolling. After all what self-respecting Nigerian billionaire doesn't want to hand over half of his hard swindled fortune to a total stranger on the other side of the world? Well kudos to the scammers for a recent example that I received which at least demonstrates that (a) they know how to be topical and (b) they are finally sending their fake offers from people you might actually have heard of if you don't have a PhD in Nigerian military history. Observe:

Dear Friend,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the recent protest in Egypt.I am Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak who is seriously ill and has slipped into coma.

Ever since the turn out of events and even prior to the protest,I have been thrown into a state of antagonism, confusion,humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present military leadership of the Egyptian Liberation Organization.I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture.As a woman that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Egyptian Government. In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars.And they are not relenting on their effort to make me and my sons (Gamal & Alaa Mubarak) poor for life. As you know, the Muslem community has no regards for women, more importantly when the woman is from a Christian background, hence my desire for a foreign assistance.

I have the sum of 62.5USD(Sixty-Two Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars) with a financial firm in Europe whose name I can not disclose for now for security reasons until we open up communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. This arrangement will be known to you and I alone and all our correspondence should be strictly on email alone because our government has tapped all our lines and are monitoring all my moves.In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the 62.5 USD that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust .

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith.I am aware of the consequences of this proposal. So I ask that if you find no interest in this project that you should discard this mail.

I ask that you do not be vindictive and destructive. If my offer is of no appeal to you, delete this message and forget I ever contacted you. Do not destroy my family reputation because you do not approve of my proposal.

Please expedite action

Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak


Yup that's right, Mrs. Hosni Mubarak wants to make me rich and is playing the poor traumatised damsel in distress harassed by those evil "Muslems" despite being totally innocent card. Now there's no denying that 62 million United States Dollars would come in handy but on reflection I have decided to pass on your generous offer "Suzanne" and will instead be vindictive and destructive by publishing your little e-mail for the amusement of my millions and millions of fans. Well, even if it actually is her (which it isn't), the days when Mubaraks could deal out pain of Alessandro Moreschi proportions are well and truly over. And if that's not the case then eep. Sorry Suzanne, as the Hollies would say, let's you and me have dinner some time.

And meanwhile, in lieu of actually thinking of anything to write about myself, I shall fall back on my former position and follow a meme that is doing the rounds.

Books )
keresaspa: (Gorilla madness!)
Well it seems that we can all rest easy in our beds once again as the latest brown-skinned bogeyman to terrorise lovely Western civilisation is dead and all is right with the world. Just as it was when Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were killed. Oh wait don't forget about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he's bound to be planning something. And of course there's Robert Mugabe who is no doubt stockpiling nukes as we speak, and that Omar al-Bashir, the world wouldn't miss him. Whilst we're at it who's running Ethiopia these days, they're usually no-goodniks. Still we should obviously joyously celebrate the death of Qaddafi and the liberation of Libya from the Libyans by our brave boys. Libyans can now look to the wonderful example of Egypt and prepare to reap the benefits of demawkracy just as they are doing because there is nothing in the world more important than choosing which rich man gets his turn at exploiting you. Good luck to the Libyans but if they really think things are suddenly going to get a lot better because one man is dead and they have swapped one regime forged in violence for another then they have a quare gunk ahead of them.

I happened to catch a piece about the wonderful world of new Libya recently on that bastion of measured journalism the BBC not long ago. Some faceless correspondent salivated at how great the whole thing was over footage of school children doing a bunch of oddball exercises whilst yelling out extreme patriotic slogans. The slabbers continued to trip him over footage of university shelves emptied of Qaddafi related books followed by footage of the removed books being torched in public bonfires. So hordes of children being indoctrinated and pushed through formation exercises was followed by footage of burning books. Nope, we've never seen anything like that before. Personally I'm with Heinrich Heine when he said "where they burn books, at the end they also burn people" and I have no doubt that these mythical Qaddafi loyalists who keep getting shot to pieces by the Libyan Army will be the first ones to burn.

Still, if nothing else Liz Seawright and Gary McMichael might be able to tap the new government for some compo as, let's face it, there few people more innocent to die in the Troubles than George "incinerated" Seawright and John "shopping list" McMichael and it was clearly Qadaffi's fault that these paragons of human virtue were killed.



And yes I know Qaddafi is not a nice man and he did bad things (unlike our own leaders who are all avatars) but presenting this as some sort of great development in the history of mankind when the same old shit will continue to happen is just silly and so typical of the hyperbole that informs the news these days. Some rotter has been killed, there are plenty more where he came from and so far it seems that all Libya has to look forward is another military dictatorship followed by some rubbish western-style representative government, no doubt with the oil fields sold off to Shell and the like. Not a lot to get excited about really.
keresaspa: (Finlayson)
There's a habit I have never got into but one that some people seem to do almost religiously and that is the insertion of press cuttings and articles into their books. In a way it makes sense I suppose - if you find something of interest why not store it alongside information it is related to? A bit old hat perhaps with the advent of the internet and a bit OCD if we're being honest but a well meaning and harmless practice nonetheless. Recently in a charity shop down the road from me I picked up a couple of books that had been given the related article treatment by their previous owner. A copy of The Fourth Reich had a veritable cornucopia of additions from the gentleman who owned it before me, with articles culled from the Sunday Times about Thomas Cooper of the British Free Corps, Erick Priebke of the Waffen-SS and the Argentine ratlines inserted between book and dust jacket. All very interesting. The other book, a copy of Gitta Sereny's The German Trauma, had rather less addition but what had been inserted was weird to say the least.

L@@K!!! That's right Heinrich Himmler meeting Prince Charles. OK, obviously it isn't Charlie boy but you must admit that the likeness is disturbingly accurate. Very sporting of the person who added this picture to the book to annotate it for us as well and polite of them to call Himmler "Herr". So do we have definitive proof of the ability of the House of Windsor to travel back in time in order to conspire with the forces of Schutzstaffel or do we just have somebody with a little too much time on their hands? The truth is out there.

Book 'im

Oct. 3rd, 2010 09:16 pm
keresaspa: (Rubberduckzilla)
Is it just me or has livejournal been running slower than Cyril Smith's pall bearers recently? I swear it takes a good few minutes for me to see any page now. There again maybe it is just my laptop being its usual snail-like self. Bloody machines.

Anyway, everybody is doing this therefore so must I:

The BBC believes that out of the following 100 classics [that's debatable], most people will only have read an average of six. Bold the ones you've read, italicize those you've dabbled with (read a portion/watched a film rendition/read an abridged version).

List )

So there you have it. I'm not sure what it proves but there you have it anyway. Now if you'll excuse me I managed to chouse a bunch of Lulu's Marble downloads from shady sources and I must continue appreciating their sheer majesty. If I don't see you through t'week I'll see you through t'window.

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