Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Grazable Book

In Alnwick Oxfam this week I picked up an unabridged copy of Boswell's Life of Johnson. At 1000 pages, I'm not sure I'll ever read it cover to cover; but flicking through it in the shop I saw more than enough strange and toothsome snippets to enjoy (and perhaps, as writers do, to pillage in some form or other). It occurs to me that, although I really like my Kindle and have read more e-books in the last month than paper books (at a ratio of somewhere between 4 and 10 to 1), there are some ways of reading that the Kindle just isn't up to yet. One of them is this flicking through, idly looking for inspiration or interest. The e-book's commitment to linearity is tyrannical: it can't cope with the idea of grazing. There isn't even a random page button, like in Wikipedia.

As we were leaving the shop my wife pointed out that there was a copy of The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street, proudly face-out on display on the Oxfam equivalent of the 3 for 2 tables. I not-so-bashfully took it up to the counter and offered to sign it for them, which they graciously accepted. I've seen it in bookshops before, but to see it in a charity shop was a weird delight. (It didn't look well-used, but I couldn't begrudge the previous owner their indifference to it.)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ink Sweat and Tears

There's a new poem by me up at Ink Sweat and Tears...

Friday, April 01, 2011


Again I'm writing a poem a day throughout April. See Carrie Etter's list of participants here, and the threads here. My effort for today:

One last big tea before I leave the county

Eeh, a great oblong table
laden wi’ riches of Yorkshire and trouble
consequent on there being fuck all to do:
a truculent welcome for me and for you,
southerner sandwiches, call-centre pies,
liquorice shadows in factories of flies,
flat caps and trackies and dole queues and gyms,
non-NHS dentists coining by gums,
fenceposts and fishing and regeneration
re-opening the derelict pub at the station,
rugby bloody league with Harry bloody Gration,
moorlands as barren and gaping as gobs
of tweed-burdened burghers and shell-suited knobs,
teacakes moistened on top of the kettle,
and gift shops closed down in the centre of Settle,
Doncaster’s regal and drunken flaneurs
and Bradford pornographers’ ‘Story of Er’
and parkin and parking for five quid a day
and Parkinson threatening to come back from Bray.
Pillocks and wazzocks and breadcakes and rain
and Tina and Gilbert and Ajmal and Shane,
O give me a bite of your county of scran
and tea from the well-stewed teapot of Don –
I have lived here a decade, complacent and fat,
so goodbye and thank you, and thank you, and that.