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Geek Status: Still Active

Just for the record, my life as high and mighty blog overlord of all I survey (in Sutton) does not preclude evidence of me being an almighty geek appearing on my desk...


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On Vox: The Last Books of 2008

2008 was not a good year for me, book-wise. One way or another, I never seemed to find the time to read. However, in the very last week of the year, I suddenly started devouring books again. Here are my last three reads of 2008:

Doctor Who: A Critical Reading of the Series was a gift from my brother-in-law (along with some TARDIS socks - I'm spotting a trend here). It is, in essence, a light-weight academic take on the series, most especially the first 20 years, from its launch in 1963, through to the Peter Davison years. The last five years of the original run are skated over, perhaps due to the fact they don't fit well into the narrative Newman is building, perhaps because he, personally, doesn't like them. 

However, Newman builds a compelling argument for a series that has to continue to reinvent itself to survive. The inspired regeneration mechanism that allows the lead actor to change also gives licence for the series itself to regenerate into new forms to meet the prevailing themes and televisual styles of the day. That's why the latter years of the original run get such short shrift - Newman dismisses them as more pastiches of the series than reinvention. That said, it would have been nice to see more analysis of the attempted reinvention of the Doctor that we see in the final two years of the show's run and why it failed - Newman all but ignores that. 

Still, a thought-provoking, if brief, read for any fan of the series. 

It's not often I impulse buy a book any more (the weight of my unread books presses on my conscience), and rarer still that I buy a book on impulse in a supermarket, but when I saw this book on sale in Sainsburys, I couldn't resist. The Various Flavours of Coffee is a nice bit of medium-weight fiction, that covers everything from the economics of the late 19th Century, through the battle for women's suffrage to legacy of slavery, while hanging it around the development of the coffee industry in the UK.

And if you read this book and can still voluntarily buy instant coffee afterwards, you're a better man than me. 

The narrative takes a little while to get going, taking care to establish its main two protagonists, before splitting them up for a number of years, and driving them both through harrowing ordeals of very different natures. Oh, and throwing in the odd, reasonably explicit sex scene, along the way. 

It's a long time since I've had the desire to use the word "unputdownable", but this book really was. I demolished it in a little over 24 hours and enjoyed every second of it. 

I ended up with the Lost Diaries of Adrian Mole almost by mistake. My brother and sister-in-law bought it for my birthday, as Mark seemed to remember Mum hunting around for other book in the series for me. In truth, I haven't read an Adrian Mole book since I was in school. Somehow those books seemed to be very much of product of their Thatcherite times, and I wasn't really interested in seeing Mr Mole and his supporting cast once his teenage years were done.

On the evidence of this remarkably slight read, I was right. 

I had the uncomfortable feeling of the comfortable middle class sneering at the working classes reading this book. Satire doesn't just mean poking fun at something - it implies an attempt to reveal a truth hidden or missed by many in people's actions. And I just can't find that in this book. I laughed three times while reading it - and I can only remember the reason for one of those moments. After he's forced onto a council estate, Adrian goes to the local newsagents and asks for a broadsheet newspaper. He's told that the only one they have in has already been bought by the local vicar. I laughed only because much the same happened to me in Knowle West in Bristol - only they never stocked any of the broadsheets.


Originally posted on adam.vox.com

Hamlet Who?

So... Who fancies knowing what David Tennant was like as Hamlet? :-)

Full review tomorrow, but short version: funnest Hamlet ever.

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This is what I woke up to this morning, in a B&B in Suffolk:

Winter Morning, Wenhaston

Winter Morning, Wenhaston from http://adam.vox.com/

London doesn't have much that compete with the sheer beauty of that.

A Cold and Frosty Morning

Bit nippy this morning:

Looks like London has caught ok to the idea that it's winter at last...

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The Independent partners with LJ

*brushes dust off his LJ*

Well now, what has brought me back to these long-neglected halls of blogging? The news that The Independent (UK national newspaper, for you US, Aussie and other non-Brit types) has partnered with LJ to relaunch its blogs.

That and the decoupling of LJ's server infrastructure from Six Apart's has made me wander back to the ol'neighbourhood to see how things are. And in what direction LJ's new owners are taking the service...

On Vox: Of Stags and Baths

So, what have I been up to in recent weeks? 

Well, last weekend I headed off to Brighton for Martyn's stag weekend. And I can't really talk about it as it was very much a "what happens in Brighton, stays in Brighton" sort of weekend. (Although, I apparently have a big dose of beginners' luck when it comes to cards). Instead, I give you this lovely picture of Brighton Pier, from my hotel room, showing the beautiful light of a cold autumn morning.

My hotel itself, the Royal Albion, was... interesting. It was very shabby chic, with high emphasis on the shabby, and low emphasis on the chic. Breakfast was of the "bucket buffet" style, and it's obviously popular with the hen nights. (Either that, or the policewomen of Brighton are wearing indecently skimpy outfits these days.) Oh, and the first room they gave me had no bedding on the bed. I eventually found it in the bath, along with two lights and the coffee making stuff. I moved rooms pretty swiftly. 

Oh, and it was good to catch up with AndyB after I invited him along to gatecrash the Friday night for a while.

Originally posted on adam.vox.com

Commuting Hell (for testing purposes)

I'm sat on a train, slightly bored, so I thought I'd try out the Livejournal iPhone app.

Does it work?

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Strange song for a guy who was a property journalist for a decade to like:

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