So, Michael Gove thinks children should read 50 books a year. Seems a lot to me, that’s one a week with a fortnight off at Christmas presumably, but what do I know? Reactions were as to be expected. Some people boasting that fifty was not nearly enough, one on-line commentator threatening violence if any of the fifty were Harry Potter or Twilight books, which seemed hard, and most agreeing that quality not quantity was the issue. I have to say, I’m not so sure.
Saturday, 26 March 2011
Saturday, 12 March 2011
I don’t like the James Bond novels anymore.
I’m a bit sad about that as for most of my life I did and it’s a bit like an old toy finally falling irrevocably apart. I also no longer enjoy the Flashman novels of George MacDonald Fraser, but I’m not sad about that. Tastes change over a life and it’s curious, to me anyway, which are mourned and which are not. Like Mr Banks, I feel a surge of great satisfaction, though for me it is the knowledge that I shall never again read The Lord of the Rings, that burden has been taken from me. On the other hand, I was upset to discover that I now find T H White’s The Once And Future King almost unreadable. That was the first book that I read after my university final exams and as I studied Eng Lit, was therefore the first book I had read out of choice for three years. I loved it. Tried it again just before Christmas, didn’t like it and felt a pang of loss. But the Bond novels are a special case. I partly defined myself as a reader of Bond books, defending them from criticisms that seemed to mainly arise from snobbery or ignorance. Furthermore, I am now nervous about the films. What if I no longer enjoy them? After all, the reason I write is because of the James Bond films. I adored them as a child and was horrified to discover that Ian Fleming was dead and so no longer writing which, I reasoned, meant that there would come a day when there would be no more Bond films, a horrifying prospect. Then I noticed that someone else had written a Bond novel, one Robert Markham (a pseudonym for Kingsley Amis, no honestly). The relief was overwhelming and with a prelapsarian ignorance of the laws of copyright, I wrote a Bond story myself. It was the first thing I ever wrote because I wanted to as opposed to being told to by school. It was called One By One, had a Russian villain called Ivan (after consultation with my brother had elicited the information that Ivan was what most Russians are called, and him a Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan) and featured a cunning plan to kidnap scientists. I then wrote a Bond screenplay, I forget the title, which was set on a cross-channel ferry and had 007 thwarting a hi-jack attempt. Sadly, both manuscripts are lost, but I’m sure if Barbara Broccoli calls, I could put something together.
And of course I may return to the written Bond, because, as every fan of the films knows as a certainty:
James Bond Will Return.
Saturday, 5 March 2011
Another by-election, another small turn out and doubtless soon to follow we will have the usual laments about voter apathy which always seem to have the sinister undercurrent that the whole system should be abolished and we should resign ourselves to autocratic rule by those who know best. There may well be laments about how more people vote in X Factor or whatever than vote in elections. But as Mark Steel has pointed out more than once, people don’t bother to vote because they can’t be bothered with democracy, they don’t vote because they can’t see the point. Their votes have no concrete effect. He may be right. On a local level, Tesco recently failed to get permission to build a new shop near where my mother lives, said permission turned down by the democratically voted local council. Tesco then trotted off to