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Showing posts from April, 2020

Normal People

It will come as no surprise to you to learn that I'm generally some way behind the curve when it comes to cultural talking points, so I didn't get round to Sally Rooney's Normal People until long after everyone had stopped raving about it, about two months ago in point of fact. There was also a degree of freight attached in that it was "not the sort of thing I'd usually read" which is, of course, a ridiculous reason not to read a book, but it is fair to say that books that are notionally about relationships aren't generally that high on my to-read list. So I approached it with a degree of trepidation, it's a terrible thing to approach a book with preconceptions, but sometimes it's unavoidable, and such had been the unanimous chorus of approval, the feverish pitch of the praise (apart, of course, from the murky depths of the Goodreads reviews pages, and those are always best avoided) that I didn't think it could possibly live up to the hype.

Paradise Postponed (not the TV series)

I don't know quite what I expected from this situation, I went into it unsure of how long it would last (in my case, a bloody long time by the sounds of it), how it would affect the people I love, what I'd miss. A few of the absences are fairly obvious, work, trips out, meals out at our local Turkish barbecue place (meals out in general, but particularly those), but one of the things I realise I miss most is book-shops. To paraphrase Borges, I've always thought that Heaven would be a second-hand book-shop. You know the sort, the ones over several floors, full of sudden rooms and surprising geometries, the ones where the stairways switch-back on themselves and there's generally a two-bar heater going regardless of the time of year. The sort of book-shop where, you feel, pretty much anything might be unearthed. The kind of bookshop where the owner doesn't raise an eyebrow when you're in there for half a day, the kind where when you emerge, blinking at the gloo

Other Lives

In a surprising, but gratifying turn of events, I'm pleased to announce that I am, as of this morning, a qualified heavy goods vehicle driver. My certificate arrived this morning. There are only two problems with this, my new career. The first being that I can't legally drive so much as a moped, let alone an HGV, and nor do I have any intention of doing so (as Coastalblog passim readers will be aware ),the second being that the Matthew Fallaize who is, I imagine, currently wondering where on earth his certificate is lives in Queensland, Australia, Where he has doubtless studied diligently for the qualification of which I am, currently, the possessor. (I should point out that this juncture that I've already let them know their mistake, can't have my Aussie namesake going without now, can I?) This sort of thing happens to me surprisingly regularly. You'd have thought that, being possessed of a relatively unusual surname, cases of mistaken identity are fairly th

"In good spirits"

A caveat before I get going on this week's blog: this isn't about politics, it's about language. It goes without saying that I want Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to recover from his current debilitation, any reaction other than "get well soon" is the wrong one, but the way it's being reported, both by the press and by his party, reveals a lot of what's wrong with the language of how we talk about these things, as well as respond to illness. The way we talk about "fight" and how people are "laughing and joking". It's unhelpful at best, and counterproductive at worst. I'll start with a shameful confession, I used to use these terms, too, and it took a while before I worked out what was wrong with them. Ten years ago, I was on the phone to my soon-to-be-dead brother, who was informing me in no uncertain terms of his soon-to-be-deadness, shocked and confused (because, of course, these sorts of thing never happen to your neare