Saturday, 25 April 2009

Caution: shameless namedrop ahead

I’ve been reading Shakespeare Wrote for Money, Nick Hornby’s collection of the reading diaries he writes for the Believer magazine in the US – having enjoyed the previous book in the series, The Great Polysyllabic Word Spree - and I came across this passage, just after an account of reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road:

‘It seems years ago now that I dipped into Joe Moran’s engaging Queuing for Beginners: The Story of Daily Life from Breakfast to Bedtime. Externally, I have only aged a month or so since I picked it up, but in the meantime I have endured an Altamont of the mind, and my soul feels five hundred years old. Post McCarthy, it’s hard to remember those carefree days when I could engross myself in anecdotes about the Belisha beacon, and short social histories of commuting and the cigarette break. (Eighty-nine percent of Englishmen smoked in 1949! And we were still a proper world power back then! My case rests.) And I suppose a sense of purpose and hope might return, slowly, if I read enough P.G. Wodehouse and sport biographies. I have nearly finished the Joe Moran, and I would very much like to read his final chapter about the duvet. But what’s the point, really? There won’t be duvets in the future, you know. And if there are, they will be needed to cover the putrefying bodies of our families. Is there anything funny on TV?’

Yes, I would imagine that my quotidian whimsy would offer a bit of chiaroscuro after McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic dystopia. Anyway, kind words* from the London literati’s favourite Arsenal fan, whose critical insights I have always regarded as peculiarly insightful, sensitive, judicious etc. etc.


Doing some research, I found myself on the number 10 website (, which among other things contains all of Gordon Brown’s speeches, policy statements etc. Just for a laugh, I keyed in the word ‘socialism’ on the search engine. The screen went blank except for the following message: ‘An error has occurred. Please contact the site webmaster.’ Funnily enough, the same thing happened when I keyed in ‘Tony Blair’. That’s politics for you.

Mundane quote for the day: ‘None will hear the postman’s knock / Without a quickening of the heart. / For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?’ W.H. Auden, ‘Night Mail’

* Only slightly offset by the fact that The Believer has a policy that you can’t write about books if you want to slag them off. And he says much kinder things about the other books for that month. Oh well, I guess I’m just a glass half empty sort of chap.


  1. Hardly surprising you got an error message searching for socialism on the Number 10 site.It hasn't been seen there in the last 60 years, and even then only sporadically.

  2. Ah,but press the archive key and there is one reference to Christian Socialism by T.B. in 2001. I managed 10 hits by keying in Tony Blair.