Category Archives: Reading

Moving beyond ‘No’

Yes, I’ve been reading. But we’ll come back to that.

When I got talking to people in Granby in Liverpool, about seven years ago now, they asked me to help them get over a very specific problem:

“We all know what we don’t want. We don’t want our houses to be knocked down. So we’ve got very good, over many years, at opposing any and all plans to do this. The trouble is though, we can’t agree between us on exactly what it is we do want. So could you help?”

I said “Yes, maybe” and we began to work on something together, loads of us, that has largely worked. Not perfectly and it’s not finished. But we moved beyond that skilfully confident “no” to a curious and more friendly “yes,” and in so doing changed a piece of the Earth very much for the better.

What I hadn’t realised until this week was that in learning that lesson in Granby, that yes is stronger than no, we were beginning to learn something that may yet help to create a better future for the whole of the Earth, if we could be fairly quick about it. Continue reading

For the Love of Secondhand Books: A Digression

It’s a perfect example of what it is, a secondhand book. It’s got other well used books on its cover, it’s on a ‘vintage’ imprint and I bought it from a secondhand  bookshop.

It is also, by the way, a perfect book. Tom Hanks says it as well as I ever could in his review quote inside the cover:

“It’s simply a novel about a guy who goes to college and becomes a teacher. But it’s one of the most fascinating things that you’ve ever come across.”

Read that aloud, please, in your best dry, wry and enquiring Tom Hanks voice and I think you might both get the idea and want the book. Which you can have any day soon if I give you its catalogue number: Continue reading

Alone in Silence

Sarah has gone away, sea kayaking this time, and I’m alone again. Not lonely though. I find I rarely get lonely. Which is just as well as I find myself alone a lot.

Usually I’m alone here in this peaceful house. This house where I’ve lived for twenty six years, the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. A typical Liverpool three bedroomed terraced house that I’m appreciating so much while there’s only me here to keep it company. Bay windows top and bottom at the front, no carpets, sparsely furnished, gently coloured and a small yard at the back leading on to the entry, alleygated in recent years.

Sarah moved into the house a couple of years after me, so I never think of it as mine and have few memories left now of the brief time I lived here on my own. Though I do have the feeling that I was lonely here then but for the twice weekly stays of my young daughter Clare. Memories when Clare wasn’t here of cold evenings, with nothing much to do when my dishes were washed up after tea.

It’s been a good house though, and I’ve been happy here. Continue reading

Wake up and love more: Kate Tempest

“The myth of the individual
Has left us disconnected lost and pitiful”

I had no idea when I wrote this post a few days ago that Kate Tempest was up for the Mercury Prize this week, but she was and I’m glad to see it bringing her so much more renown, followers and, I hope, sales.

If you’re listening much to the radio at the moment, well ok if you’re listening much to BBC Radio 6 Music, you might be hearing Kate Tempest’s current single ‘Tunnel Vision’ fairly regularly. It’s the one that starts:

“Indigeonous apocalypse
decimated forests
The winter of our discontent’s upon us”

And continues to take the likes of me, the older generation, to task for a catalogue of ills because:

“This is the future you left us”

At which point you might well think “Give us a break” and turn your ears away until something more positive comes on. Well I’m writing this to suggest that you don’t turn away. To suggest that you listen carefully and perhaps appreciatively to this thoughtful and opinionated woman who might well surprise you. Like she surprised me. Let’s step back a year or two. Continue reading

Urban Goals and Holiday Reading

Haven’t been here for a while, to Liverpool Central Library.But two special reasons to come today. First to see a new exhibition of photographs by someone that I ‘know’ in a Twitter sort of way. And second, to stock up with some holiday reading  as I’m taking some time off work.

Photos first then. The exhibition’s by my Twitter friend @UrbanGoals, and is in fact called “Urban Goals.” Turns out that’s not my friend’s actual name though.

Introducing Michael Kirkham.

Who looks, from his photo, to be a boxing referee. This exhibition though is about football. Not the glossy corporate world of Premier League football, but real football in the real places where we live.

Urban Goals on walls near you.

Continue reading

From the Planet Zogg: The Libraries of a Different World

dsc07973In this last week or so of January 2017 there has been much talk of dystopia. Living through these bleak days in the opposite of a world any of us would want to live in. Waking up in a science fiction novel you never thought you’d actually have to live through.

All of which has reminded me of a science fiction story I wrote a few months ago about libraries and their future in a world where we are free to have opinions, travel freely and generally be a planet of cultured and tolerant human beings.

It’s a story that starts and ends in Liverpool, where else? But as of this week it could be pretty much anywhere. Unlike most of my blog posts it contains no new photographs. Being, as it is, a radio broadcast back to those left at home from the not that fictionally distant Planet Zogg, some time in the imaginable future.livlib08

“The Libraries of a Different World”

The TransLibs

It was like this, we knew things were going to change for us in a big way and a few of us got together to discuss it all before we left. Before we left for the new planet.

You’ve probably heard this basic background a thousand times before, but just in case this story ever gets picked up, say in a library somewhere because, hey, this part of the story is going to be mainly about libraries, here it is. Maybe for someone who’s never heard of Earth, never mind Zogg, here’s the background once again. Continue reading

Writing On The Wall: WoWFest 2016 in May

WoWFest tickets available here, now.
DSC02296I’m sitting here in front of the Palm House, a beautiful place in Liverpool I hardly ever visit, thinking about how I should tell you about WoWFest 2016, taking place in Liverpool over the whole of May.

Sefton Park Palm House, nothing to do with WoWFest.

Sefton Park Palm House, nothing to do with WoWFest. Except it’s where I’m writing this.

Shall I tell you the headlines? Do it chronologically? Group it into themes, like comedy, social significance or science fiction? Or tell you the bits of it that most interest me and why? Or shall I just tumble into it and see where that takes us?

Obviously ‘just tumbling into it’ gets the vote. So here goes.

The WoWFest is Liverpool’s  longest running literary festival by a long way, this being its 17th year. It’s put on by Writing on the Wall who, if you’ve been paying attention (and if not..?) you’ll have read a fair bit about on here over the last year or so. Continue reading