Friday, 25 February 2011


I just started reading the Harry Potter series over the last couple of weeks and have not reached the Goblet of Fire. So far I have enjoyed it and only found a couple of tiny instances where things didn’t quite stack up for me. One instance was the opening of the Chamber of secrets where it states that there was a pipe large enough for man fit in. Later they are carried up the same pipe by a bird, phoenix, the size of swam, whose wingspan in considerably wider that the girth of a man. There is another in the Shrieking Shack where one moment Ron has stumbled over onto the bed then a few moments later he is on the floor then on the bed again. But these do not spoil the story, and neither should we let them.
So now I’m onto book four and looking forward to, my only regret is that I have seen the movies already, except for the Deathly Hallows. So far only the first movie rates alongside the book the others are poor shadows of the text. Hats off to Jo Rawling for a truly enjoyable series so far.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Yesterday - a short story

Was it only yesterday when I first saw you from the corner of my watering eye. How the chilly winter sun played with the gold in your hair. The sparkle on the still sea was nothing when I compare them to the light of your eyes. I watched you walk along the edge of the tide prancing out of reach of the effervescent fingers of the ocean.

You walked toward me twirling like a ballerina in the eye of the spotlight highlighting the every line of your body, your perfect poise, your flowing dress. And as you passed me I felt the warmth of your body? Could you not feel the cold upon your skin? Right then I was smitten, I caught the scent of your perfume as you danced by me and with it you took my breath away.

You laughed as I reached for the ribbon that fluttered from your hair. Smiling, you turned toward the sea and disappeared in the haze of the sun upon the water. I waited for you emerge from the effulgent splendour and radiate your own brightness upon the day once more, but you were gone. I remember feeling the cold caress of the sea upon my feet like the touch of death as I ran toward the place where you had stood. But all I could find were your fading footprints in the sand that ran to the water’s edge where they were erased by the rhythm of the sea.I remained until the tide turned, mocking me with its retreating hiss. I closed my eyes and tried to picture your face, recall your scent, retrace your fleeting steps to the ocean’s edge, there was nothing. It was as though you had never been. I turned my face from the ocean and as I walked away I raised my hand to wipe my eyes I found your ribbon wrapped around my hand fluttering in the wind. I closed my eyes once more taking a deep breath of your perfume. When I opened them the ribbon was gone. That’s when I heard your laughter like a bubbling stream. I spun around and there you were once more at the ocean’s edge. I called out as you stepped into the cold embrace of the sea and there in the watchfulness of the mellow November sun I lost you.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

What you see is what you get - Alan Sugar

A very enjoyable book tracing the life of Alan Sugar from his humble origins to the man he is today. Having been a young man when most of the shenanigans in this book were actually happening I found myself getting more and more interested in the stories. I remember only too well seeing the Amstrad name appearing on the shelves of Laskys next to my Cambridge Audio gear. Those cheap looking speakers taking up the same shelves as my Wharfdale Diamonds was incredulous. Bt at the end of the day this man understood what the average Joe in the street wanted from the money in his pocket and beat them all.
There's plenty of his business dealings here to fascinate a great many but was not until the later pages when the business of business began to fade away as giant corporations snuck in while he had his eye on the ball at Spurs do we something of the man himself start to shine through. It is when we begin to see the successes wane and the empire crack and crumble that we see the man behind the mask show us his face.
There are times when it is obvious that Alan Sugar does not do emotions. This comes through in hidden apologies which, as you get used to his way of speaking and dealing with people become as plain as day.
When he walked away from Spurs and faced the rigours of high court for something that was just not true we see the tough guy melt. From then on with the pressure gone we see a more open man who is more willing to expose his true self to a wider audience. As the book progresses through the sale of his first baby, Amstrad, and the concern for his personnel, his consideration for their future that in selling the company they are not exposed to the asset stripping that happens so often in business.
Alan, then takes through the creation of The Apprentice, and all that goes on behind the scenes and we get to see another facet of this somewhat extraordinary man who, when focused, can get the most of out of anything. It was then good to see that when he took up his seat in The House of Lords he was not not going to put up with false accusations from the Peers and toffs, which from my standpoint is quite remarkable.
In the end I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the growth of the technology industry or is just plain nosey and like to see how the other half live.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Book Review - pogrom by Clive Newnham

PogromPogrom by Clive Newnham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the very start I loved this book. The quirky sense of humour which pervades everything from place names to events right through to myths and lore is reminiscent of Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and even at times, Douglas Adams. With a sometimes quite cowardly hero, Curtis Kalashnikov, the Detective Inspector of the rudimentary Lodnun Police Force as its hero Pogrom sets about explaining exactly what the title is about. With me so far? Good then perhaps you can explain it to me.

A pogrom is a nasty thing, the extermination of a people or race. History is peppered with such things from the earliest of times to the current day. The difference with the titular pogrom is that it is totally fictitious but nonetheless truthful. Someone is out to get the Hoplins, they want nothing less than to drive them out of the land of Lodzamonkeze.

The mystery begins with an explosion at brewery which is blamed on the Yak’s milk drinking Hoplins. It then deepens with bombings of local pubs by the HERA, the supposed Hoplin freedom fighters. Further atrocities are attributed to the peaceable Hoplins until the city of Lodnun is in revolt. The mystery deepens and then shrouds itself in a veil of mist.

Or hero is framed for the whole nasty thing and is cast into the Lord Prefect’s dungeon to rot out his days. That is until a non-existent dragon and a very pretty witch get involved with Kalashnikov and turn his already topsy turvy world completely inside out and then shove it in a sack and attempt to drown it. From here on the whole world of Lodzamonkeze is cast into utter turmoil right until the bitter end, which Clive Newnham sweetens with a dab of sherbet and just a hint of minty freshness.

This is Clive Newnham’s first novel which he has self published at, do not be put off by this. Pogrom is a superb story told in a gentle fireside tone with the lights dimmed just a little. Let the flickering flames of Clive’s dulcet tones draw you into the off-beat world of the Hoplins. You’ll soon be imagining the Dickensian cities and knights in armour battling dragons and the cloud boarding headless sorcerers as they all fight for freedom and justice and some fresh yak’s milk. Watch and smile as d’Earth scythes her way across the battlefields handing out life stories to the recently dead. Snigger and titter at the shenanigans of the endearing Hoplins then boo and hiss at the corrupt members of the secret services that would kill and maim for fine pair of stockings.

The more I read this fantasy the more I wanted to read it. The story is well crafted with great dialogue with, as I mentioned before, has a sense of humour that permeates everything. Congratulations are in order Mr Newnham, I raise to you a glass of Yak’s milk with a resounding ‘here here, and bravo.” Long may the series continue. A full five stars none of that semi-skimmed fat free nonsense.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sanitising History

I read an article recently about how publishers are re-releasing classing novels with older words replaced my more politically correct ones. The novel at the centre of this particular article was Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. In it the publishers have seen fit to replace the word 'nigger' with slave. In all honesty I cannot remember seeing anyone being offended by the work of Mark Twain, has society become so fearful that it is willing to re-write history just to make it more palatable to themselves.
I once went to central Uganda where I was in the ethnic minority. People would chase our truck down the mud track tracks shouting, 'Mzungu, mzungu' after us. Mzungu is defined here on the Urban Dictionary however, when we asked the children what it meant they replied, 'White and angry' which I thought was a good description of the average Caucasian in Africa. Not once was any native person upset by being called 'black' or 'nigger' or anything else as they had no concept of racism. perhaps the problems in the world are simply our making. Do we use political correctness as an apology for our inherent racism rather than dealing with the issue within ourselves and accepting that in some measure we are all racist.
I lived in the north of England for nine years and frequently, because of my accent I was picked on for being a southerner. This is not called racism just regional banter. But what if we change north to white and south to nigger? How would our regional differences sound then?