It’s a Sin. Russell T Davies.

The eighties was the aids hysteria decade- ‘dirty gays mentality’, born from past prejudices and ignorance.

It’s a sin deals with this and more. Heart warming and heart breaking. Young men dying supported by loving, devastated friends and families. Young men dying alone in hospital wards alone, shunned by all, or not wanting loved ones to know what they have- ashamed.

It’s a Sin, like John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies, will never leave me. Incredibly moving, the cast did it proud.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean- Paul Didierlaurent.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Charming… Champions the power of literature’ Sunday Times. (The front cover review). And it does celebrate literature.

Guylain reads excerpts of pages of books that escape pulping at the factory where he works, which he reads aloud on the train on the morning commute and then leaves the pages tucked down his seat for whoever might want to read them.

I loved everything about this book: the imagery: ‘Resignedly, he quit the warmth of the train… Outside the rain was pelting down…’ p. 9.

The sub-plot of the work accident severed legs mashed up in a book run: ‘… this inconsequential book… made with this unique paper pulp… The old fellow had found his legs’ p.57.

The security guard who spoke in verse and the literate toilet attendant: ‘When you’re a public lavatory attendant… you’re not expected to… sit there tapping away on… your laptop… You’re only good for wiping from morning to evening…’ p.133.

I also loved the crazy Care Home book group and the moving love story.

A book hasn’t stayed with me for a while. This one will.

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Football Anthems.

Sitting here tonight waiting for England to play in the 2020 Euros I revisited this post from the 2018 World Cup. ‘Come on England- another step closer to bringing it home’ ⚽️

As the 2018 World Cup draws to a close I wanted to add a thought on football anthems and their role in major football tournaments. There have been a fair few of these over the years, most immediately forgotten once the sporting moment has past. However two have stuck in the country’s hearts, one even more so as the 2018 World Cup has shown.

So, the first is the repetitive ‘Vindaloo’ by British band Fat Les, released as a single in 1998 and recorded for the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The majority of the song consists of the phrase “nah nah nah” and the word “vindaloo” repeated over and over occasionally interspersed with other lines such as “And we all like vindaloo” and “We’re England; we’re gonna score one more than you”.
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The other is “Three Lions” a song released in 1996 as a single by English band The Lightning Seeds to mark the England football team’s hosting of that year’s European Championships…written by the Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie, with comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner…providing the lyrics.

This is another song with simple and very repetitive lyrics and this seems to be one of the secrets of the staying power of a football anthem. Three Lions contributed to the nations feel- good feeling as hope slowly started to build that we might actually get somewhere this World Cup and we very nearly did! This song, more so than Vindaloo, which is catchy in its own right, sums up nationalism- ‘its coming home’ and although it didn’t this time, hope slowly started to rise that it might.
Ultimately that was what this world cup was all about for us British people- national identity, national pride and national cohesion.

The Power of the Dog

Rudyard Kipling – 1865-1936

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But… you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

Find Them Dead by Peter James

Find Them Dead (Roy Grace, #16)

Find Them Dead by Peter James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first Peter James and #Roy Grace. I’m hooked. Clever story telling with historic and literary references woven in. Set on the Sussex coast with lots of local mentions,’ Find Them Dead’ covers County Lines drug runs, a detailed court case, including jury nobbling, an in-depth insight into the workings of Sussex Police. An interesting ending that I didn’t see coming. Brilliant.

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Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce.

Miss Benson's Beetle

Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Miss Benson’s search for a Golden Beetle in New Caledonia had me running to the atlas and searching Google images for pictures of shiny beetles. This is a book about being different, about everything not being as it might seem on the surface. It’s about gender difference and class difference. Most of all it is about striving for your dreams and not giving up. Life is for living and going out there and living it, whatever struggle that might entail. And it is about Golden beetles.

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Death Comes Knocking by Graham Bartlett.

Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace's Brighton

Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton by Graham Bartlett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t yet read any of Peter James’s Roy Grace series- set around Brighton and East Sussex. I will do now. James’s books draw on in-depth research into the lives of Brighton and Hove police. His friend Graham Bartlett was a long-serving detective in the city once described as Britain’s ‘crime capital’. Together, in Death Comes Knocking, they have written a gripping account of the city’s most challenging cases. I really enjoyed these real life vignettes of the crime world in and around Brighton, as told by Graham Bartlett- especially fascinated with the chapter on Brighton and Hove Football Club and the policing involved on match days. Looking forward to making my way through the fictional series now.

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