Friday, 16 December 2011
My job, insofar as I have one, is to make books available to people who want to read them. I confess, I engage more with the end user than I do with the creator. Which is not to say I am not enamoured of, often in love with, and a little bit envious of those who have sorted their lives in such a way that enables them to write them. It is also true that the point of books is to write them, not read them. However, most writers I know, want their books to be bought and to be read. (Adjust the order as you will.)
I have no idea of the current ability (or otherwise) to breathe, of the people who wrote the text in the books pictured here. What I do know is that I learn about the death of authors by a spike in thier sales. Christopher Hitchens fucked with at least two of my friends. He wont do again because he is 'dead'. What he will do, is be read by more people this week than last. And he's not in any position to complain about that. BTW. George Whitman died on Wednesday. If you don't know who he is - Google him.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
This newspaper likes Great Britain. France hasn’t forgotten Britain’s role during the war. We respect her history and admire her culture. We know how much democracy owes her. And we’ll never have room, here, to list all the things we care about: from habeas corpus to the BBC, from Elizabethan poetry to John le Carré, from rock to the inventions of the sixties, from springtime concerts in London to Wimbledon, not forgetting Liverpool FC – the list of things we find appealing across the Channel is infinite, and would include a nice plate of fish and chips of course.
But Germany, France and most of the other EU members were right, in the dawn of Friday 9 December, to say no to London.
What it was about, once again, was saving the euro. This means changing the treaty which governs the way the 27-member Europe functions.
The plan is to fix more draconian budgetary discipline rules. London is afraid that will mean stricter regulation of the financial sector. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, threatened to veto this modification to the treaty unless it included an exemption clause for his country.
Most of the Europeans gathered in Brussels refused to accede to London’s request. The 27-member treaty won’t be changed. But a “17-member treaty” will be set up – without the United Kingdom, but including half a dozen other states among the non-Euro zone members.
Let’s be fair play about this. The Euro crisis isn’t the fault of the British. They bear no responsibility for the inability of euro-zone leaders to solve their sovereign debt problems.
But there is something logical, too, about the fact that the British are standing aside from a move towards greater economic and budgetary integration. They don’t believe in it. They don’t believe in the European idea. They are foreigners to the (nowadays somewhat becalmed) project which nonetheless now seems to us more essential than ever: forging a single entity which can exist as such amid the other great powers of the 21st century.
No one should regret what happened in Brussels. An ambiguity was swept aside. Deep down, the British (who entered what was then the European Economic Community in 1973) are only interested in one thing in the whole affair: the single market. The rest of the European project leaves them indifferent – when they are not frankly hostile.
The Brussels summit traced the outlines of better budgetary governance for the Euro zone. That is good. It is not enough. There needs to be a counterpart: directly or indirectly, the ECB has to be more active in solving the crisis.
The agreement is due to be finalised on Friday. Let’s wait and see before judging. For, as the British have shown us, the devil is in the detail.
Thursday, 1 December 2011
Where's my blunderbus?
Except of course,they'll probably be on strike.
Tuesday, 8 November 2011
"To read Richard Dawkins on the subject of religion is to read someone on Biology who has read 'The Observer's Book of Birds"
If I Gift Aid a donation to a public school’s swimming pool I am claiming the right to decide that is a better way of spending my taxes (and yours) than keeping open the public pool in my local town.
More on both these subjects later.
Sunday, 6 November 2011
So on your own head be it.
Stop now and go and read porn instead if you don't wish to indulge me..
And tonight we celebrated it with all the muster we could muster. It was its birthday and the people who made it happen thought it a jolly wheeze to throw a party. And how right they were.
We are going back to the days when I'd been to every gay bar in London - and there were five of them. To this day I feel guilty that when the sixth (somewhere called 'Bolts' - in Haringey of all places) opened I decided enough was enough and I didn't have to go. Nowadays of course, I haven't been to all five gay bars within half a mile of my house - but I don't feel guilty....
changed all that forever. A couple of weeks ago two young men walked passed the bookshop. They couldn't have been more than fifteen or sixteen. They were holding hands and believed themselves to be in love. And it mattered not a jot to them, who in Bethnal Green either knew it or cared. They will never know, (and nor should they) the stories of the people gathered on the thirty second floor of Centrepoint tonight that made it possible.
But hey guys, we did it. We fucking did it.
Friday, 4 November 2011
The email said :
Some twat nicked my mobile from the shop today.
Oops, what I meant say, was;
A deprived member of the underclass whose need for a mobile was greater than mine relieved me of... blah , blah, blah.
Of course I hadn't backed up my contacts.
If you ever want me to call you again please reply to this email with any or all of the phone numbers I might reach you on.
MPS automated content monitoring gateway has stopped the following e-mail for the following reason:
It believes it may contain unacceptable language, or inappropriate material.
Please clean-up or re-phrase the message and send it again.
Let's talk about art instead. Specifically, let's talk about 'Performance Art'. And even more specifically let's talk about the performance art that occured in the bookshop this evening.
Thursday, 3 November 2011
I have, over the last forty years, made several attempts to divest myself of it, with varying degrees of success. However, the last 72 hours have transformed, not only the Church of England, but, far more interestingly to me, how I feel about it and relate to it.
On Tuesday I indulged in a little bit of old time religion and heard Mass at All Saints, Margaret Street.
On the way home, I stopped at St Paul's. I spoke last night of how that affected me. So much so I returned to the Cathedral twice today.
They are doing stuff. They are transfiguring themselves. They are changing their world and they are changing mine.
After I'd dropped off the books I was happily sitting on the steps of the Cathedral when the Daily Assembly took place. I was ready to get cross, and to be honest, rather hoped to be. But fuck me, they did it right.
I am at last, proud to be an Anglican.
Wednesday, 2 November 2011
It has been a matter of some regret that it has taken me so long - but heh - I have got a business to run, and somebody had to post out the copy of "Hilda's Where is it of Recipes" by Hildagonda J Duckitt.
Written in 1896 as a household management guide for ex-patriot young brides in South Africa, it contains jolly useful advice on how to remove sperm stains from silk - which is frankly, invaluable. The rather risky investment I made, purchasing it Brick Lane last spring for a pound, was today amply rewarded when it sold on Abe Books for £50.00. I only tell you this to put in context the fact that no sooner do I appear to have embraced capitalism, (and to rather better effect in this instance than any banker I know), here I am seeking its downfall.
And seeking it I am. And in the company of some truly lovely people. Do they mean it? Are they sincere? Look at this.....
I don't know about you, but I couldn't live like that if I didn't mean it. To be honest I'm not sure I could live that like even if I did, but then again I'm white, male, middle class and mostly unfamiliar with being uncomfortable, especially at night. I used to find Scout Camp a bit of an ordeal.....
But these guys are for real.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
This week, it was Katie, who stayed four nights. Whilst I was busy at the bookshop rearranging the erotica
Katie was out and about, eating lovely food, photographing it
and finding time to write about it in my guest room.
It's extraordinary what happens under your nose.
I can't help but wonder how much else is going on that in a far too busy life escapes me.
Friday, 28 October 2011
In a bloody cold church, and with chattering bar staff to distract us, a woefully small, but dedicated audience, watched "The Battle of Algiers'.
A film made in 1966, directed by Gillo Pontecorvo, and the winner of more awards I can be bothered to list here, it tells the tale, with brutal honesty, of the uprising in Algiers in the early 1950's.
This post is not a film review. If you want to see it then beg and plead with St John on Bethnal Green to show it again. It will reward your persistance.
The purpose of this post is to say:
Whatever the dipsticks down the road at the Cathedral are doing, the church in their shadow is alive and well. It blesses, supports, and stands alongside, the angry, the pissed off, and, indeed The Cross.
I hold no brief for St John on Bethnal Green (a liberation I'm learning to rejoice in ) but I commend them to you. They are working for the Kingdom.