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There probably will be snow in Africa this Christmas, tbh

Ho ho and, furthermore, ho. Ah yes, the festive season is upon us, a time which even those tangentially acquainted with Coastalblog will be dimly aware that your humble correspondent disappears beneath a blizzard of work ("Disappears?" you cry, "you were barely here in the first place", which is a reasonable point, and, this being the internet, I assume that you are all just and equitable people, as I'm sure everyone on the internet is, so I shall let you have that one, though a look back informs me that this has been my most prolific blogging year since, oooh, prior to fatherhood, so cut me some slack m'kay?), what with the knives to sharpen and the meals to send out and what have you. All very lively.

But this isn't the standard mea culpa / whinge / flimsy rationalisation for my shoddy and inept attempts to keep CB wheezing along in this, its 16th (!) year. Yep, I just checked, first post September 2003. So next year it can legally have sex. Nah, I re…
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I've been trying to promise myself that I'm not going to get on my high horse about Brexit (again). It's so patently a clusterfuck that you, intelligent people that you are, have no need of me telling you how this is an absolute shitstorm of head-banging incompetence, and how our alleged leaders are clearly the most nakedly self-centred shower of money-grubbing arseholes since Sir Phillip Green's disastrous interaction with a cloning machine.

However, in these fraught times, it's imperative that we cling on to any ray of hope that may shine amidst the Stygian gloom, so what I will do is note that there's a rich comedic sub-plot to the whole fiasco, and in this hilarious sub-routine lies an idea which may yet save the world, not just Britain.

It is this: it's possible that arrogance has finally reached the point where it's a hindrance to the powerful, rather than a help. This whole sorry farrago may yet mark the point where we, as a nation, stopped liste…

Book 14: The Accidental Woman, Jonathan Coe

Part of the problem with all this reading and writing about it is, of course, that by the time I get round to writing the blog post the book is a distant memory. In the case of this Jonathan Coe novel, this disconnect is actually rather fitting. I read way back in the high heat of summer (remember that?), slightly ironic, as there's a lot of drizzle in the book. Coe's first novel, it is fairly clearly the work of a young man, full of smart arse artistic flourishes and asides to the reader (can you tell I'm annoyed I didn't write it? This is the sort of thing I used to think I'd never get away with), a book of clear ambition which ultimately doesn't quite hang together.

The plot, such as it is, follows the life of a young (and then less young) woman called Maria who, for want of a better phrase, can't be arsed. Not that she's totally indifferent to the world around her, she recognises enough to interact with it in a reasonably usual manner: school, unive…

On contrariness (and trying not to be preachy)

Now, I am aware that I have a bit of a tendency to proselytise from time to time, and I imagine it's bored the hell out of a lot of people down the years. I remember being once asked (via an intermediary) why I was "so angry all the time" (this after a run of particularly virulent Facebook statuses about the then government, like it was going to make any difference).

I'm not, you know, not really. well, okay, a bit. But by and large I'd like to think that I'm nearer the reasonable end of the scale than unreasonable. And so that comment did make me wonder precisely why I can get het up about things, and why I feel the need to then publicly vent. It's not as if I have a huge platform or following (and if I'm sure of one thing, it's that I'm self aware enough to realise this) or that my opinions are particularly novel or interesting. It can certainly be a bit outrage by numbers at times (though hopefully not to the extent of the eternally offende…

Book 13: Awaydays, Kevin Sampson

Disastrously behind schedule (though that rather depends on your definition of what constitutes a disaster) I scoured the shelves of the local charity shops for a slim volume I could whip through in next to no time. Confronted by a sea of Tom Clancy and Maeve Binchy I wandered home, dispirited. I had, of course, forgotten the first rule of those who hoard book: there's always a tonne of stuff at home you haven't actually got round to reading yet.

And that was the case with this nasty but exhilarating little volume. An account of the bad old days of football hooliganism it features our protagonist, Paul Carty, a nice enough young man from a decent family whose less pleasant weekend hobby is going away with the Pack, Tranmere Rovers' organised firm of hooligans, and smashing the living bejaysus out of some poor provincial town centre.

The book opens with violence, and is punctuated by accounts of fights in various beknighted spots in the lower reaches of the Football League.…

Book 12: The Nasty Bits, Anthony Bourdain.

The death of Tony Bourdain earlier this year came as a nasty shock to the global food community. All those of us who make a living from cooking, running restaurants, writing about food, even from eating it, felt we'd lost one of our own. No writer had ever better expressed the somewhat marginal, slightly out of kilter life of the professional chef with more verve or accuracy, and few have done as much to make us feel as proud of what we do. Bourdain was real, he was a proper cook who came up banging out covers in restaurants of varying degrees of quality, a world away from the idealised aspirational plates of the Sunday supplements, or the latest gushing broadsheet review of some high concept place you'll never in a million years be able to afford. He was emphatically not a celebrity chef. He was a cook. Who along the way acquired a degree of celebrity.

He understood in his bones that sometimes it's just about getting it done, and this book collection of his journalism and…

Book 11: Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson

An so it came to pass that with two thirds of the year boxed off your humble correspondent threw up his hands and declared that all the year's lofty aims were coming a horrible cropper. Which, of course, they were always going to. However, it's hard to get too down-heartened about failing in the tasks I've set myself when the attempt contains gems like this.

It's stretching the no re-reads rule a trifle, because I have indeed read this book before, but it was that long ago I reckoned an exception could be made, and I'm very glad I did. What seemed to me to be unnecessarily tricksy when I was a tedious undergrad who wasn't half as clever as he thought he was has turned over time into a glorious flight of fancy (or rather, I've turned into someone who can get his head around it). Concerning the adventures of Jordan, an abandoned child discovered on the banks of the Thames (two rivers already, with all the intimation of travel and impermanence that they imply)…