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Showing posts from December, 2019

Coastalblog's belated pitch for the wellness market

So the end of the year is nigh, possibly also the world, but fairly certainly the year, provided we manage to make it through the next week or so, and I think most readers will agree that 2019 has made for fairly grim viewing. The 2018 season was bad enough, but 2019 has basically been a series of increasingly unpleasant plot twists; in fairness, the shark was jumped back in 2017, with that unbelievable call-an-election-from-an-unlosable-position-and-then-nearly-lose-it plotline (though I wouldn't have minded that one getting an airing again), everything since then has been increasingly unrealistic, as the showrunners have leapt for ever more implausible narrative arcs in order to keep the show on the road. Now, last year I started one of my last blogs of the year in similar vein, only to then turn it into a number of reasons to be cheerful. I started this particular blog a few days ago in a fairly grim mood (trying to get round to doing anything other than work at this time of y

One last politics one, I promise

Okay, it's nearly here, and so I'm just going to talk politics one more time, and this is it for a bit, I promise. This has been the least edifying electoral campaign in living memory, and it's been a struggle to rise from the mire. Claim and counter-claim, smears and lies, armies of bots, rancour, bile, general unpleasantness on all sides. It's very very easy to throw your hands up and go you know what, I'm sick to death of all of it. And I am, but I'm still going to vote. And I'm going to vote Labour. I'm not going to pretend that this isn't something I have some reservations about, but I have greater reservations about the other parties (bar the Greens, and if it wasn't so important, I'd seriously consider them, but this constituency is a straight fight between red and blue, and I'm absolutely fucked if I'm helping a Tory get in). I'm voting Labour because it's absolutely vital that the Conservatives don't win,

Unreliable narrators

You, being the highly literate soul that you are, are undoubtedly aware of the concept of an unreliable narrator. The person telling the story who, for whatever reason, be it madness, duplicity or naivete, cannot be relied upon to be telling the truth. The narrator that the reader believes at their own peril. As a fictive device it has a long and noble tradition: the teller of tall tales, the braggart, the fantasist are all staples of storytellers throughout history. The unreliable narrator spans genre, mode and discipline, from Roman theatre to post-modernist detective novel. Sometimes the author deliberately lies through omission, think of the narrator of Vanity fair, who admits that not only is the story second -hand, but that he glosses over the worst of Becky Sharp's behaviour. Sometimes the unreliability is part of a deliberate campaign of misdirection, think of The Usual Suspects, and Verbal Kint's complete fabrication of the entire story to fool both the cops and us (

Memory Tapes

Nostalgia, as a lot of people have said, is a hell of a drug. This post could be about a number of things, it could be about the way we deal with memory, about how artefacts can bring moments back to us instantly and vividly. It could be about how I'm a lazy swine who never got round to binning stuff which should have been got rid of a long time ago, or it could be about how I, as a middle aged man, am in danger of spending too much time in the past when there's a perfectly good present to be getting on with. It could, viewed in a certain light, be about the power of music to transcend time and space. It could be about a lot of things, it depends which end you're looking at it from, I suppose. I'll explain: a few weeks ago, on something of a whim (though it's a thought that I instantly recognised as having been buzzing round the back of my head for a while), I bought a CD player (with, would you believe, a tape deck). I had known, of course, that I didn't