Russell Brand doesn’t vote. Having been goaded about this by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight in 2013, Brand wrote a book, Revolution, to show that he’s both right and in earnest. Many people are angered by others not voting, it’s a shibboleth of sorts, but Brand’s position seems reasonable to me; there are many causes for indignant scepticism in public life and much of it is a sham. I don’t share his seeming surprise, though, that wealth buys influence and that rich and powerful people generally want to protect and expand their wealth and power. You’d think someone on the threshold of middle-age (he’s 39) would have noticed a little earlier. This is what George Orwell published in 1941, when he was 38. Continue reading
Books + Stories
The countenance of a seagull
Among the most graceful of birds, they have the ugliest faces; in the countenance of a seagull we observe all the bitter hatred and malignance which we usually associate with the faces of money-lenders or book censors.
The terrible boredom of existential threats to the universe
Some of the best BBC dramas can be the most irritating. By the best I mean those they’re most pleased with, whose cushions they are forever plumping, whose production values are the most ambitious. Take, say, the increasingly indistinguishable Sherlock and Dr Who, for which the structure, pacing, editing, characterization, mannerisms, tics and assumptions have become hauntingly similar. Continue reading
An Interview with Andy Hamilton
An Interview with Andy Hamilton. I talk to Andy about becoming a writer, free booze, the future of beer and what he plans to write next. My interview for Nudge .
Andy Hamilton is an author, broadcaster, foraging guide and accidental expert—he has an unusual dedication to following wherever his interests take him. Mostly this has been to the areas of alcohol and self-sufficiency, frequently in the overlap between the two. His published books include The Selfsufficient-ish Bible (2009, co-authored with his twin brother), Booze for Free (2011) and Brewing Britain (2013).
Andy contributes to various TV and radio shows on subjects ranging from survival and foraging through to home brewing and gardening. Highlights include telling BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo how to make the perfect elderflower champagne and nearly taking the Autumnwatch cast’s teeth out with his toffee apples. His most recent appearance was on BBC Radio 4’s Food Programme (‘Wild Booze’). He regularly blogs about home brewing, beer, foraging and gardening on his website, while you can also follow him on Twitter.
Right down extraordinary that petunia was
Some bits and pieces about writing dialogue, taken from Ford Madox Ford’s Joseph Conrad: A Personal Remembrance, a sort of biography. Here Ford is describing his writing collaboration with Conrad. Continue reading
The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov
The Gardener from Ochakov by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Amanda Love Darragh). ‘We live in an interesting country, these are interesting times … we can’t help being interesting ourselves’. A Russo-Ukrainian novel. This review first appeared in Nudge Books (now NB). Continue reading
True Grit by Charles Portis
True Grit by Charles Portis. Forget the film adaptations, the unfashionable genre and the kitsch cover, this is a good book: shrewd, amusing and superbly written. This review first appeared in Nudge Books (now NB). Continue reading
Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews
Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian America by Owen Matthews. When the Wild West was also the Wild East. This review first appeared in Nudge Books (now NB). Continue reading
The Difficulty of Being a Dog by Roger Grenier
The Difficulty of Being a Dog by Roger Grenier (translated Alice Kaplan). An upmarket jumble sale of a book, mostly about dogs. This review first appeared in Nudge Books (now NB). Continue reading