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Category Archives: books

uplifting for saturday

here is one of the saddest, most beautiful paragraphs from a book whose first chapter made me breathless: Yesterday I went to the doctor, to see about these dizzy spells. He told me that I have developed what used to be called a heart, as if healthy people didn’t have one. It seems I will [...]

last train home

if you thought our world was small or our personal struggles were unique. the film starts with immense annual scenes as two out of 200million Chinese workers try to board the trains taking them home (a 2300km journey through vast landscapes) to spend the new year together. this film contrasts their peasant origins with the [...]

high ego, low self esteem

he’s back from holidays. sitting in the window reading Seneca and wondering about his true self and his life’s meaning and how to minimise the squandering of its remainder, thinking: what if this cat’s life has no meaning? he wishes he was still on the Ionian coast where he didn’t have to face the huge [...]


there have been only three days without rain all summer. today wasn’t one of them. today i was tested for tuberculosis in the hospital where george orwell died from tuberculosis, by a cockney nurse who assured me i would die instead from cycling around the city. he had served in berlin as a soldier, partying [...]

unofficial countryside

The never-ending growth of cities and the dramatic inverse is the focus of the film Requiem for Detroit which was shown 2 weeks ago at Folly for a Flyover, a temporary structure and event space under the traffic of the A12. This little building containing the short-term, mean-while, grass-roots positivity towards urbanism where policy and [...]

working from home

deciding what to cook tonight, and learning about Nigel’s carrots and leeks. the dream of walking around naked in your own vegetable garden during the abundance of summer, held while simultaneously reading An Island in Time (the life and disappearance of a small Frisian village and its farming way of life) and Politics and Homes [...]

as i walked out one midsummer morning

by Laurie Lee is a delicate book, i hope you like it too, so innocent and then suddenly not. the loss of innocence of the 30s (i mean the era but also appropriate to the human age) transforms his walk across Spain from softly hazy to gritty, and by the epilogue the tide has completely [...]

but then, when you think you can forget it, it sparkles again.

curses. i don’t know what the paper triangles are precisely, floating like confetti slung. cycling over the river is the best at dusk, racing against hassle of putting lights on later and later, along the path of the Fleet, through Smithfields, Barbican,  into a railway arch, female vocal, out of a railway arch. this book [...]

There was a tree and an apple, and everyone ate of it.

^Thus can the 20th century history of Europe be summarised, paraphrasing heavily from Geert Mak’s In Europe. A young unstable empire grew up suddenly and two wars were fought in trenches and homes. The second plumbed the depths of human frailty and flaw, traces of which were difficult but not impossible to disguise, hide, re-tell [...]

in europe

is the book of my two-and-a-half weeks in barcelona. author Geert Mak travels to the places which formed fulcrums of action, looking for traces of 20th century history (visible, hidden, disguised or absent), as we move into the 21st. it’s about a century of distress, the twin horrors of inevitability and chance setting about destroying [...]