Friday, 31 October 2008

A Crusaders memento from New Writing North

I see that New Writing North have posted a lot of photos on Flickr related to their various events and stagings, and amid the general interest it's nice for me to see a selection of shots taken at the Crusaders reading group sessions they ran back in early March at the Living Room bar in Newcastle. A lot of useful conversations come flooding back to me now...
Reading groups are, of course, a big deal these days, and their ubiquity reflects not only the British public's commingled fondness for books, chat, an easy chair and a drink; but also, I think, the problem of how hard it is for working people to make time for recreational reading these days. The group creates a platform for same, a shared social duty and pleasure, and I guess the choice of book has to be carefully calibrated so as not to waste any member's time too egregiously.
It was a fascinating experience for me to get so many direct and varied readers' responses to Crusaders at the Living Room. I was also well aware that, ordinarily, per the aforementioned issue of time management, such groups would tend to be engaged with the likes of The Gathering or The Corrections, or No Country For Old Men or Revolutionary Road, i.e. best-selling or award-winning novels of proven interest; and that Crusaders was on the menu essentially because of the element of local interest and the generous patronage of New Writing North. But I was made to feel nothing but welcome by those groups, as the NWN photos remind me, and by god they had all dauntlessly made their way through Crusaders, even before they gave their informed responses, so in a sense I owed them all a big drink.
I don't remember what was going on in the 'pointing' shot though it's quite possible I was referring to some incident in Crusaders that took place in a real location about 50 yards from the pub door...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Joey Barton's long road to rehabilitation, starting when?

The text from my mate at St James's came in at 19:58. One word: 'Joey!'
Barton had just converted the early penalty that, one might say, made the difference tonight in Newcastle's first win since August, a shaky 2-1 over West Brom.
A non-football-following friend who was a guest at ours for dinner last Saturday night couldn't quite recall 'Joey''s name, but he did want reminding of who was that awful thug at NUFC who had just crept out of prison and had form for horrendously beating up teenagers and stubbing out cigars in people's faces.
My season-ticket mate at SJP has a keen sense of irony, so I'm not losing any sleep over that 'Joey!'. It's possible I have cheered on worse people who have worn black-and-white shirts - cheered them on after the fact, that is - after they've done the business for the Toon. Until then I reserve the right to stick wor nose in the air and say it's all going to hell in a handcart - football, manners, morals, you name it. But then I'm just your common-or-garden breed of English hypocrite.
Tonight was 'Joey''s second successfully converted penalty for NUFC, so who's to say how I'd react if, one fine day, he scored from open play - at Wembley, for example, against Man United, after 89 minutes of dogged stalemate...

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Paddy Considine, BAFTA (and me)

BAFTA is now promoting an upcoming event at the Encounters Film Festival hosted by The Watershed in Bristol, scheduled for Friday November 21. "The Academy is proud to present an evening with Paddy Considine, BAFTA-winning short film director (Dog Altogether) and award-winning actor (Dead Man's Shoes, Hot Fuzz, A Room for Romeo Brass and The Bourne Ultimatum). In an on-stage interview with Richard T Kelly, we will explore Paddy's career so far using clips from his films to illustrate." The actual ticket-buying link is this one, I think.

Andrew Sullivan, model blogger

I was never too impressed by Andrew Sullivan back in the mid-1990s when he was editor of The New Republic, a position that tended to bring out the worst in people if they were not already the very worst sort of people, and for which Sullivan (the Surrey-born Oxford-&-Harvard gay Catholic conservative) was an 'offbeat' and yet, in retrospect, predictable choice (given the era in question, when Camille Paglia was considered a hot thing.)
I've found Sullivan a lot more interesting and engaging and provocative in his subsequent career as a keen and forthright blogger, one whose assiduity has done much to promote the blog form among published writers and to encourage useful connections around the blogosphere. In the new Atlantic Sullivan ruminates at length on blogging, what it means and has meant to him, and where it might be going.
A lot of his comments are relevant only to those bloggers lucky enough to be read by people with whom they are not on first-name terms. And I don't think the jury should waste a moment's time on his attempts to draw Pascal, Montaigne and Karl Kraus into the discussion as proto-bloggers. Still, he makes many observations that struck me as pertinent. For one:
"On the Web, one-sentence links are as legitimate as thousand-word diatribes—in fact, they are often valued more. And, as Matt Drudge told me when I sought advice from the master in 2001, the key to understanding a blog is to realize that it’s a broadcast, not a publication. If it stops moving, it dies. If it stops paddling, it sinks."
This shark-like zeal, I suppose, is how a man like Matt Drudge gets to be reckoned a 'master'. But the point is surely correct.
For another:
"... the most pleasant surprise of blogging has been the number of people working in law or government or academia or rearing kids at home who have real literary talent and real knowledge, and who had no outlet—until now."
Yes, yes, we've all run into hundreds of bores and lunatics online too, but they vanish from memory even before you've clicked away, whereas the surprisingly interesting voices stay with you.