September 2022 reading list and notes

Recommended: an eye-opening vision of the future of humanity

September 22

  • Nomad Century by Gaia Vince
  • What We Owe The Future by William Macaskill
  • Don’t Put Yourself on Toast by Freddy Taylor
  • Comedy, Comedy, Comedy, Drama by Bob Odenkirk
  • Mud, Rock, Blazes by Heather Anderson
  • The Art of Rest by Claudia Hammond
  • High Risk by Brian Hall

Nomad Century is the book that I keep recommending to people. On that basis alone it has to be flagged here. It might not be racist to be against immigration but it is certainly economically illiterate. She sets out that case convincingly. The book goes much further though and the vision Vince offers here is of a very different world, one where humanity finds itself pushed up into the higher latitudes by global warming. It is remarkable, almost fantastical, but it could very well be the best future on offer.

5 October 2022 Scribbles Monthly Reading List

August 2022 reading list and notes

Recommended: still not persuaded about the climate emergency? Really?

August 22

  • Against Borders by Gracie Mae Bradley
  • Hothouse Earth by Bill McGuire
  • Uncommon Wealth: Britain and the Aftermath of Empire by Kojo Koram
  • The Meaning of Human Existence by EO Wilson
  • The Dirty South by John Connolly
  • How Not To Be A Boy by Robert Webb
  • Just Ignore Him by Alan Davies
  • The Nameless Ones by John Connolly
  • Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit
  • Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
  • An Unsung Hero by Michael Smith

Phew, what to choose for August? I probably have to recommend Hothouse Earth as it is a very powerful compact book. I also read, unusually, a couple of fiction books and John Connolly is my go-to author when I want a dose of high quality crime fiction.

I also have to mention the books by the two actor-comedians in this list - Robert Webb and Alan Davies. Both are very moving and Davies’ account, in particular, is deeply affecting given a keen insight into the experience of sexual abuse. Webb leavens his challenges with humour to a far greater degree in his book. Both are recommended.

4 October 2022 Scribbles Monthly Reading List

July 2022 reading list and notes

Recommended: being anti-capitalist’ can be a lot of different things…

July 22

  • The Right to Sex by Amia Srinivasan
  • Windswept & Interesting by Billy Connolly
  • Good Pop, Bad Pop by Jarvis Cocker
  • C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too by John Diamond
  • Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher
  • Improvise! by Max Dickins
  • How Words Get Good by Rebecca Lee
  • How to Be an Anticapitalist in the Twenty-First Century by Erik Olin Wright

I read the late Erik Olin Wright’s book last year and so this was second time around. Well worth it too. The best book in July for sure.

3 October 2022 Scribbles Monthly Reading List

June 2022 reading list and notes

Recommended: should be read by anyone with any involvement, however peripheral, in child protection cases.

June 22

  • Unfree Speech by Joshua Wong
  • Behind Closed Doors by Polly Curtis
  • Classic Scrapes by James Acaster
  • The Trespasser’s Companion by Nick Hayes
  • My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden
  • Sidesplitter by Phil Wang
  • Do Not Disturb by Michela Wrong
  • Internet for the People by Ben Tarnoff
  • The Premonitions Bureau by Sam Knight

Some absolute corkers this month. Perhaps, interestingly, the bestseller The Premonitions Bureau might be my least favourite. It’s decent but the others are tremendous.

2 October 2022 Scribbles Monthly Reading List

April and May 2022 reading list and notes

Recommended: a remarkable exposé of the situation in Xinjiang.

It’s never good to apologise on blogs so I won’t go there — but it has been a while since I posted. A flurry of reading lists is coming up as I get back up to date.

April 22

  • The Perfect Police State by Geoffrey Cain
  • Very Bad People by Patrick Alley
  • From Marathon to Ultra by Jonathan Cairns
  • Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell
  • Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
  • The Lost Art of Running by Shane Benzie
  • Failure is an Option by Matt Whyman
  • Training Essentials for Ultramarathons by Jason Koop
  • Ultra Success by Anthony Rogan

No prices for guessing my interest this month. No less than 7 books about running and ultras… The other two by Cain and Alley are also highly recommended.

May 22

  • In It For The Long Run by Damian Hall
  • Otherlands by Thomas Halliday
  • Mental Training for Ultrarunning by Addie. J. Bracy
  • Still Not Bionic: Adventures in Unremarkable Ultrarunning by Ira Rainey
  • The Rise of the Ultrarunners by Adharanand Finn
  • Endure by Alex Hutchinson
  • Why You Should Be a Trade Unionist by Len McCluskey
1 October 2022 Scribbles Monthly Reading List

George Town, Malaysia. The child on the back makes me think of the Kuleshov effect - how we interpret that facial expression is completely dependent on the context. I’m inclined to think it is happy-terror but in a different context it could be very different.

15 August 2022 microblog

I love a good book list. (Now through 7 out of 10 of the 2022 Orwell Prize list.) I didn’t know the FT had a book prize. Here are 15 books worth a look. I’ve read Butler to the World by Oliver Bullough and have Nomad Century on pre-order - it is out in the UK on the 25th August. So, a few to go at here…

15 August 2022 microblog

Finished the Editor’s Briefing for the August issue of the BJGP that goes to print this week. The issue is themed on cancer and I had cause to go back and read the late John Diamond’s C: Because Cowards Get Cancer Too. It was first published in 1998 and I don’t think it is over-egging it to call it a classic.

15 July 2022 microblog

My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden has won the Orwell Political Writing Book Prize. And that is because it is superb. Harrowing, yes. Essential, absolutely. In a miserable sordid political climate where second rate ideologues can pursue policies as grim as the UKs Rwanda migrant relocation plan this is a book that reminds us of the importance of committed journalism.

14 July 2022 microblog

This storefront in Kendal is being stripped back revealing adverts for mintcake and chocolate. I wonder how old they are.

13 July 2022 microblog

The dogs enjoying a cooling drink and a dip in Crosdale Beck this weekend.

11 July 2022 microblog

From the Guardian’s Andrew Sparrow today:

…for the third time in six years, the prime minister of the United Kingdom is due to be chosen by around 200,000 Conservative party members (predominantly white men over the age of 60 living in the south of England). That is more akin to what happened before the Great Reform Act of 1832 than what you would expect in a modern democracy.”

From Politics live with Andrew Sparrow

11 July 2022 microblog

Jeremy Hunt enters the Tory leadership race. He is fully aware of his moderate political positioning in a Tory party that dresses to the right. He has made it known that Esther McVey would be his Deputy PM. I still doubt Hunt will be extreme enough for the current crop of MPs but McVey as Deputy? Nasty.

10 July 2022 microblog

The past few years have been a difficult time for political satirists with the likes of Dorries, Rees-Mogg, and Johnson in the cast list. Spare a thought for them now and the Tory party leadership contest. How on earth do you satirise leadership bids from Grant Shapps and Suella Braverman? #satireisdead

9 July 2022 microblog

Dozens of new ministers being installed in Government by a zombie Prime Minister. None of them will know the brief or be able to make significant decisions. An interim PM could have re-installed the ministers who resigned to minimise disruption. Instead we are lumbered with a PM who has been sacked for having no personal integrity and ministers who had not been deemed sufficiently capable amongst the most talentless cohort of MPs in living memory. Shambles. Tory shambles.

8 July 2022 microblog

Some thoughts on Billy Connolly’s book Windswept and Interesting:

8 July 2022 microblog

Temperature inversions - they just never get old do they? My morning run up Winder today.

8 July 2022 microblog

Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly

I’ve good memories of Billy Connolly. I can recall watching his Audience with…’ programme in the 1980s with my family and us all laughing uncontrollably. Yet I’ve mixed feelings about this book. I’ve never read any of Billy’s books but, even for me, there was barely an anecdote/joke in here I haven’t heard before at some time. I have to admit that some of it is getting a bit tired.

He asserts he is not a violent man but he fully admits that he is free with his fists and has a casual approach to violence. He tells several tales along those lines. Yet, there is a disconnect between his attitude and the reality. Violence is OK when he does it as he is one of the good guys and he tells it as part of a funny story. All those who he lamps deserve it and he offers sage advice on how to best use violence. On those occasions he imbues it with a cartoonish quality, all the better to minimise the bleak ugly reality of violence. Of course, Connolly had a traumatic upbringing and he endured some horrendous abuse but, sadly, he revels in violence he has meted out, quite unapologetically, despite the awful toll it took on him.

…sadly, he revels in violence he has meted out, quite unapologetically, despite the awful toll it took on him.

There are other small paradoxes and if Connolly has more profound reflections on his own personality and behaviours he doesn’t reveal them here. It all feels a little superficial and, occasionally, one feels his ego just running away a little with the stories. Undoubtedly, he has a considerable amount of which to be deeply proud and he is one hell of a character.

Like just about everyone, I like him and I’m charmed by him. His tales are all told with enormous charisma and his trademark humour but I found it hard to ignore the underlying tensions.

8 July 2022

It might be in the very recent past but the history of the internet is fascinating reading in Ben Tarnoff’s book Internet for the People. And, while I am not sure the solutions are entirely clear, the problems of private ownership of the internet are certainly apparent.

1 July 2022 microblog

OK, just updated my DOI page ahead of speaking at the RCGP/WONCA conference: As usual I have used the Internet Wayback Machine to log the previous version.

28 June 2022 microblog

A few days ago I finished Do Not Disturb by Michela Wrong. This book is an astonishing work of journalism, understandably Orwell Prize nominated, casting a light into an appalling Rwandan regime successive UK/US and other governments have lauded. Potted version by Wrong here at the Guardian.

28 June 2022 microblog

Quite the most remarkable, revealing book I have read in a long time. Try thinking about the UK plan to fly people to Rwanda after reading My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden.

17 June 2022 microblog

Tremendous news that the EFL taking some simple actions to help people who are colourblind. Premier League are laggards as one might expect.

10 June 2022 microblog

Great article in the FT and rather wonderful quote from Peter Hennessy on asked what he thought of Starmer’s promise to resign if get a fine for breaching lockdown rules: I think it’s exactly right. He’s an honourable man. History would record him very favourably. Why do I know that? Because I’m writing the fucking history, that’s why.”

23 May 2022 microblog

Powerful emotional article in the FT about the death of a young man with epilepsy written by his sister. Recommended. 🔒

29 April 2022 microblog