Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's like poetry, sort of

I just got a text message from my mother telling me about a television show that is going to be on ABC in a couple of weeks time.

I think this illustrates the dangers of science and technology. I'm almost sure the inventors of the mobile phone text message system never thought that this sort of thing would happen when they were putting it together...


I just signed up for Christmas on Facebook yesterday, and discovered that well over three hundred thousand people were not going to be attending this year.

What the hell? Or, to rephrase that: what the hell? How can you not attend Christmas - an event that is so all-encompassing that the only requirement for you to be in attendance at that date is to be in existence at that date? Do these non-attendees simply plan to be attending the date of the twenty-sixth of December on the date regularly scheduled for the date of the twenty-fifth of December?

Aside from anything else I'm frankly baffled. How do you simply put aside a day like that? Is it an extreme case of daylight savings, or a more pragmatic case in which the non-attendees simply choose to stop thinking, breathing, or physically manifesting their corporeal presence in any way, shape, or form on this day?

Scrooges! Scrooges, I say!

Friday, November 28, 2008

What you don't see, you can't see hurt you

Now, I'm not always the sort of person to do several things at once - I'd usually much rather not do several things at once, and continue not doing them all for some time. But as you probably know, I'm in the habit of reading while walking. I have been ever since I went to school as a kid, walking there from our house several blocks away.

In fact, I've been reading while walking for so long now, that I start getting dizzy and dislocated whenever I walk and don't read. Here's how it happens: I'm walking along to the kitchen at work, and suddenly get confused by the fact that the cord before my feet is actually a cord before my feet, and trip over it. Or I'll be going down to the shops, and I'll start thinking that the post in front of my face is blocking my vision so I can't see the post in front of my face (behind the post in front of my face), with the result that I run into the post in front of my face before I can move out of its way. If I had been reading a book, you see, I would be able to move the book out of the way just before I saw the post in front of my face or the cord before my feet, and step out of their way.

As I've mentioned before, reading while walking over the road is especially fun, or at least it is when the cars stop for you. Which in my case happens quite frequently. Conversely, when you don't have a book and cross the road, it's freaking terrifying! All those huge scary metal beasts, rushing along the road! Who'd want to watch an unfolding horror film like that? Much better to be reading a pleasant poem or a whimsical essay while that terrifying drama unfolds on the roads before you, I find.

What you don't see, you can't see hurt you - that's my motto.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nymphomaniac vows to abstain from Christianity before sex

A confirmed nymphomaniac living in a small community outside of Melbourne has vowed to abstain from Christianity before sex.
"The temptation is great," admits Mr. E.N.*, in an exclusive interview with this paper. "But I've made a firm commitment with myself. NO to religion before I come to grips with more serious matters, like sex. It's far too important to play around with."

Mr. E.N. has been delivering pornography door to door and preaching his doctrine of "Sensuality First" in an effort to convert people in his town. He has also been offering subscriptions to Playboy and performing dramatic readings from the magazine in the Town Square for interested audiences. He says that the responses have been 'mostly positive'.

However, Mr E.N. has met with opposition from several other organisations in town. One such organisation is 'Christians against Sex Education for Married People', whose spokesman**, Ms M.R., said in a statement to this paper yesterday, "It's unrealistic to ask people to abstain from Christianity. They have to learn to experiment amongst themselves until they find a belief that suits them. We believe this will allow them to return to sex at a later and more mature period in their lives."

A second organisation, 'Married People against Christianity for Other Married People who Practise Sex Before Marriage,' is more supportive of Mr E.N.'s aims. "It is inappropriate for Christianity to be taught in schools," claims Mr. N.F. "Especially when young people could be getting up to more appropriate activities such as marrying, or having sex."

However, Mr E.N. believes that his "Sensuality First" doctrine will catch on. "Christianity is not a compulsion, it's a choice," he says. "I just want to make sure that people are fully aware of the importance of sex before they start playing around with religion."

Mr E.N. will be debating his arguments*** on local television tomorrow night, against Ms. J.H., a spokesperson for the community-interest group 'Somewhat Confused Christians Against Marriage Before Sex.' He expects a large audience.

*Disclosure: some initials have been changed in order to protect the identity of the initial initials.

**Disclosure: some gender identities have been changed in order to protect the identified genders of several gender identities.

***Not to mention arguing his debates.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Astound your friends with astounding things!

Eminent Men of Letters and some of their eminent letters...

B, B, A, N, S, D, X

- John Donne

O, O, A, X, O, E, F

- William Shakespeare

F, N, T, H, A, S, E

- Rabbie Burns

Z, I, R, C, A, E, R

- Christopher Smart

F, F, D, G, E, B, A

- Ted Hughes


See you later, procrastinator

The Queensland Government says construction of the Traveston Crossing dam near Gympie in the state's south-east will be delayed by several years due to environmental concerns. - ABC News
Just hours after announcing delays to their crucial Traveston Dam project, the Queensland Government are announcing delays to their delays, which makes them "the most developmentally delayed state in the nation", according to Premier Anna Bligh.

Bligh also flagged further crucial delays to developmental delays to be announced in the weeks to come. The details of the delays are to be announced - shortly.

"This move to delay our delays makes Queensland the most efficient state in delaying things in the country, and we look forward to making more decisive delays in the weeks leading up to the election," concluded Bligh.

"The Queensland Government has a great vision for this state, which we look forward to putting off for another three years," announced Geoff Wilson, the Minister for Mines and Energy, this morning. He defended the Government against accusations of lateness by saying, "Look. We wouldn't have a great future to look forward to if all the good things happened now, would it? You've got to put all the good things in life off for later. That's why they're so good!"

However, Wilson refused to enter into speculations as to whether the Queensland Government was finalising plans to put off the upcoming state election until next state election. "We'll answer those questions," Wilson said, "later."

The Queensland Opposition has acknowledged the latest round of delays to previous delays, but its response to the media has been delayed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Into the mouth of death he strode

Some months ago I had the luck to come off the street onto the Moreland Train Station platform while it was filled with children and their associated adult life forms. It was mid-week, and at about nine in the morning; I was on my regular morning commute to work. Well, they were running and cheering and shouting everywhere as children are wont to do, while I huddled down one end of the platform along with all of the other regular commuters. The most common cry was "train! Train!". Also "is the train coming yet?" And "where is the train?" These children certainly were startling conversationalists - about trains.

Eventually, a voice came out over the intercom... announcing that the train was running five minutes late. The children, none too depressed by this announcement, let out a hearty avuncular roar of approval: "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!", or sounds to that effect.

It was then that I and the rest of the regular commuters decided that children and trains should not be trusted.

Thus it was with some trepidation, dear reader, that yesterday I found myself advancing into the Northland cinemas, for the second week in a row, to buy a ticket to the movie 'Thomas the tank engine and friends: the great discovery'. On the previous week, I had arrived at the cinemas some ten minutes before the movie was due to start and had discovered all the seats in the film sold out, and adult life forms banked up from one corner of the cinema right into the Pancake Parlour, with children tugging at their sleeves and asking anxiously when they were going to see the train.

I say that I advanced there with trepidation: well, terror might be a more adequate description. As luck would have it I arrived just as the ticket booth was opening and managed to get myself one of the first tickets. On walking into the cinemas some minutes later, I discovered it overflowing with children, running all over the place. It was if a movie version of Lord of the Flies had suddenly, and startlingly, manifested itself in real life.

I took a seat somewhere in aisle five and attempted to relax. I say attempted: some child in aisle four was turning and wriggling around as if he could hardly bear to sit any longer. An aisle one adult was flapping disturbing pieces of linen in the air. Another aisle five child was querying their parent about Thomas, and there were sounds of childish distress coming from aisle seven. Possibly tom toms as well, but I think I blocked that out.

Meanwhile, the cinema, in an attempt to calm us all down, was piping generic movie music in, but even this did nothing to quell my rising horror. For one thing, they appeared to be playing an L J Hooker ads instead of music. "Nobody does it better... nobody does it half as good as you!", etc. This was followed, even more disturbingly, by James Bond music. (I had noted previously, and with some disapproval, that this edition of Thomas was narrated by previous Bond star Pierce Brosnan, and not Ringo: they have a Bond movie out at the moment that I have no interest in seeing). Was this some kind of way of subliminally encouraging the children to be supervillains? When the lights went out, I began to feel some anxiety on the part of my mortal soul....

The film itself was just about what you would expect. Forty-five minutes long, with narration, as I have just noted, by Pierce Brosnan, presumably on the assumption that he is universally identified as an Englishman, like Ringo. Never mind the fact that his accent is probably put on: Brosnan is from Ireland, not England. Brosnan also has a disturbingly high voice: I don't know why nobody has noticed it before, but this former 007 is sometimes in danger of squealing.

That charming dramatic creation, The Fat Controller, has been largely retired, and replaced by a Blair Labour Party stooge Thin Controller. The amount of destruction and disaster that Thomas encounters is almost apocalyptic: not only does Thomas go off the tracks - twice, I think - but he also inadvertently causes the collapse of a bridge, a water tower, and falls into a subterranean lake in a disused mine shaft. (It's not long, you suspect, before the British government launches an inquiry into the wasteful practices and questionable health and safety regulations on the Island of Sodor, where Thomas and the rest of the engines are located.)

Aside from Occupational Health and Safety difficulties, Thomas may also need a psychologist. It's rare for a steam rain to have a psychiatric condition, but Thomas becomes startlingly envious and avaricious when introduced to Stanley, a gleaming white engine with a silver smoke stack.

All in all, not a terrible way to spend an hour or so. Yesterday evening I also went to see Excalibur at the Astor, a much more adult affair with knights donging one another all over with maces and all manner of implicit Freudian themes being made, explicitly. But I think the day belonged to Thomas.

You should see it too. Go on. You'll be chuffed!

Friday, November 21, 2008

One liner, in three lines

It's better to think that you know what to say before you know that you say what you think, rather than to know to say what you think after you say what you think that you know.

I think.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Comment on the culture of comment

By far the most irritating feature of that supremely irritating website, Facebook, is the ability it gives others to comment (irritatingly) on EVERYTHING that you do. No, EVERYTHING. It wouldn't be so bad if people could just comment on your photos or your notes, it also lets them comment on your attending events, updating your status, becoming fans of something, joining a group, or even your becoming friends with someone, and also (but not limited to) anything and everything else. Who wants you to have an opinion on everything that your friends do? Facebook, that's who.

Did Austen have to put up with this kind of constant opinining? Did Shakespeare? (An occasional rotten potato is more hazardous, but also more moderate and intelligent, than the kind of twitter that you occasionally get on Facebook.) Seriously. Imagine if the great works of literature were thrown open to this kind of commenting....

IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

- 'It is a'?

Could there be a more hackneyed opening to a story? Srsly?

- Agreed, lolz.

What the hell are you talking about, Austen? 'Truth' is such an outdated concept.

And what the hell is this talk about marriage while we're at it? Enough with the valourisation of outdated patriarchal structures!

etc, etc...

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene...

- 'Households' - hey, that isn't bloody likely under the current fiscal/sub-prime mortgage crisis.

- And I don't know why you're using that hackneyed and trite Iambic Pentameter.

- And what's all this 'Fair Verona', while you're about it? Man, have you see what Berlusconi and Prodi have done to the place?

- Bet the idiot's never seen Verona.

- This 'Shakespeare' is REALLY in need of an editor.

- Or a therapist, man. You should see his King Lear. I don't know how the hell he ever got published...

etc, etc...

Man, it's getting so you can't breathe before someone makes a comment on it - as if everyone has to have an opinion about what happens before it happens.

Maybe I should put in a comments box in this post, just for those commenters who are too incontinent not to comment mid-post...

Dramatisation. May not actually work.

Commenters! Comment on my Comment on the culture of comment! Go on, I won't bite!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Timpedia: a universal collection of information about everything Tim knows.

Plunger, coffee
Tim likes his coffee to be made in a plunger.

The era of the pot
Prior to drinking coffee coming from his plunger, Tim drank coffee out of pots. In Newcastle, he got given a pot by his mother. This pot had a propensity for growing mould in the bottom that was annoying to Tim.

Later, in Coburg (See also: Coburg era), Tim drank coffee out of his flatmate's pot. On one occasion, he left the coffee in the pot on the stove for two hours and came back to discover the bottom of the pot was burnt. He avoided his flatmate for several days after this incident, but thankfully, the flatmate never seemed to have noticed. He continued drinking coffee out of this pot for several months after this incident, but it left a bad taste in his mouth.

The great switch to plungers
On moving to Thornbury, Tim procured a plunger. He greatly enjoyed the taste of the coffee that came out of the plunger. Sometimes, he liked to have the plunger coffee with some gingerbread. Other meals Tim likes to have with his coffee now include: croissants, toast with vegemite and toaste with jam or honey, biscuits, and cake. (See also: food that Tim is partial too).

Tim's first plunger broke one morning after having boiling water poured into it, causing the glass (which had frosted overnight in the cold air) to crack. Tim's second plunger lasted until last night, when he accidentally brushed it into the sink and it cracked, thwarting him in his plans to have gingerbread and butter with hot coffee in the morning.

Tim is currently drinking instant coffee at work, but not enjoying it that much.

See also: plunger, significance in Tim's poetry; plungers, how cool Tim thinks they are; other things with coffee in them that Tim also likes.

That's a funny dunny

Having recently signed up to attend a German-themed poetry slam, I've spent the last couple of days wondering idly whether I'd be able to come up with a German-themed poem for said German-themed poetry slam.

"I know", I said to myself. "I'll write an updated version of Beowulf. About plumbing!"

Said poem turned out to be very fun to write, and very long (it takes some 10 minutes in the performance, and at last count was 1,234 words exactly), and in fact, very unsuitable for performance at said slam . Some quotes:

The cistern crack'd from side to side
"The curse has come upon me!" cried
Wendell of Werribee...

Great gobbets of gunk
Fly free from the worm...

He breathes in green bile,
A bubbling brew....

So yeah. That's how I've been spending the last couple of days. How about you?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Post about armpits

Astute readers of this occasional journal will have noticed a distinct lack of posts about armpits lately. As a matter of fact, you won't really catch me thinking about armpits, much; or even thinking about thinking about armpits much around here. It's not a topic that concerns me, particularly.

If pressed on the subject of my own armpits, I would hitherto have made expressions ranging from mild unconcern to utter indifference. I suppose I have nice armpits. They could be positively Rubenesque, paragons of the armpit world, as far as I know; I don't as a rule make a habit of scrutinising my armpits, or vainly disporting them before others on the tram. If they have their beauties, well, I am - or was - content to let those armpits be.

Well, that is, until yesterday. Idly leafing through a copy of The Melbourne Times, the rag that is dumped outside my place once every week, I came across an ad for a beauty clinic that promised to its future customers cosmetically enhanced faces, cosmetically enhanced chests, cosmetically enhanced breasts. It may even have promised to cosmetically enhance bits that had previously been cosmetically enhanced (for an additional financial enhancement). And it promised to cosmetically enhance my armpits, as well.

Apathy for my armpitular regions was gone in an instant: why, if these experts in cosmetic enhancement, in their wisdom and experience, ajudged my armpits (and who else could they be speaking to?) worthy of further cosmetic enhancement, I had to agree with them. Nothing in this world is perfect, and the armpits of this world can only share in that imperfection. And who knows what unique imperfections my own armpits might display; what lumps and knots and unsymmetrical curves might be contained within?

Compared to the beauteous Olympian armpits that have been enhanced by the cosmetical enhancements of this company, my own armpits must be demonically hideous things - along with the armpits of the rest of the unenlightened masses out there, labouring in darkness and ignorance and apathy.

I still don't think I'll get my armpits enhanced though. I'm quite happy enough with them as they are, even with their imperfections. I am, however, considering sending a lustrous lock, cropped from the fertile groves of my nether-arm, into this cosmetic enhancement company, as a token of gratitude.

It's the least I can do. (Aside from nothing, of course).

Here ends my Post about armpits.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pat squared

Does Mrs Postman Pat pat Pat, or does she just pet Pat? And what about Pat's pet? Does the pet get a pet, or does the cat get a pat?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Unannounced spot check

Apparently the Rudd Government are planning to make use of unannounced spot checks. I'm just getting into the spirit of things.

Yep, all these spots seem to be in working order.

UPDATE! - I think these spots could do with some fixing though.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Amazing diet foods of tomorrow!


With only half the fat, half the calories, half the sugar, half the chemicals, and half the toxins of the conventional Whole Banana, the Half-Banana is a revolution in diet foods! And although, regrettably, the amazing Half-Banana has only half as much banana as the Whole Banana, the whole Half-Banana is a whole lot more half-filling than the Whole Banana!

- More healthy than other "health foods"

- Puts only half-as-much banana related "chemicals" into your hips and thighs!

- Will fit in half as much space as the bulky and inefficient Whole Banana!

Whoops, sorry mum

I was playing around in the kitchen with an old space-time continuum, some super-dense collections of hydrogen, and some fundamental laws of astrophysics I found lying around - and I accidentally did this.

Anyone got a mop?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

To the Surgeons, to make much of Time


Not Rofes, Pofies, Hyacinths or Lilies;
Not Dandylion, Clover, Daffydowndilly;
Neither Stockinges, Girdles, Veils, nor Wimples:
What really gets my JULIA is Pimples.
To lance, to fqueeze, to poppe, to bringe forthe PUS:
To make them ouze, weepe, groane, & gush forthe jus.
With gentyl tonge, biddes me lie on my chest
(I cannot but obey her fweete beheaft)
And thanne with eager fingers doth fhe prye,
And I with mournefulle voice do tearfulle crye.
And yet, by heav'n, I think my love as fine
As any pimple fhe doth fqueeze of mine!


Cometh the hour, cometh the man,
Cometh his face with boyles & spottes.
Cometh forth JULIA, daintie & purely, her
Hands out before her to kneadeth thofe knottes;
Squeezing & workinge, her tafk never fhirking:
Away goeth the man, withe his face all ablotch.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man,
Prancking his lockes, & preening his ruffes.
Poppeth out JULIA - moft beautifully - her
Hands draw forth duft, grey haires and dandruffe -
Midges & mites, fmall mammals that byttes,
Earwigs, tickes, lice, & other fuch ftuffe.

- Erick Herrick, eftranged* coufin of Robert Herrick

* VERY efstranged.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Drinking orange juice makes you intelligent

Talking idly about books at book club the other night (shocking, I know!) I suddenly realised that the rules for naming fiction books were really quite simple.

1) Take a poetically evocative noun. Anything will do. 'Fire', 'blood', 'stone', 'night', 'heart', 'Guns', 'Sword', 'Knife', 'Ice', 'Dawn', 'Death', 'Life', 'Jewel', 'Roses', and so on.

2) Take another one. Go on, don't be shy.

3) Combine the two nouns together in some vaguely meaningful way.

Results (and none of these, as far as I'm aware, are real titles, apart from the first one):

Fire in the blood
Roses of the dawn
Stone death
Sword of ice

And so on. You can be as creative as you want in putting the two nouns together, it doesn't really matter if you make up a new word. ('Nightwatch' or 'Dreamscape', for instance - two words used for Stephen King books). And the actual meaning of the title doesn't really matter - it's point is to give vague significance to what follows in the book, and to sound profound without actually being that way.

Generally speaking, one of the words that is used should be closely related to a verb or adjective, but this is certainly not true in all, or even a majority, of cases. Some examples: 'Riders in the Chariot', 'The Sword in the Stone', 'The Bloody Chamber'. It's a good way of combining a fact with a descriptive or active idea while not diverting too far from the purpose of the title, to imply what's coming and to entice the reader.

Then again, you really have to wonder where some writers get their titles from. A book of short stories by Brian Aldiss on my bookshelf is entitled 'A Tupolev Too Far'. Riiiiiiight....

(The significance of the title to this very post? Only because Maria of Orange Juice Snobbery suggested that I write about book titles in a recent post. She clearly knows my own mind better than I do. Drinking orange juice DOES make you more intelligent, ladies and gentlemen...!)

Deadly feathers

When Peter [Cook] left school, national service was still compulsory, but he was excused because of an allergy to feathers. - Judy Cook, 'Loving Peter: My life with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.'

Terrible things, feathers. Every soldier has to prepare himself for the possibility that, in the dead of night, the enemy will launch an unprovoked attack by feather on them. And if that soldier should happen to have an allergy - well, I wouldn't want to answer for the results.

Yes, death by plumage is one of the most avoidable causes of soldier fatality in the world today.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes we can't

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain. - ABC News
Barack Obama, the man voted most popular presidential candidate of the USA by people across the world not able to vote for him has become president.

The election of Obama as president by people able to vote for him has been greeted with excitement and elation by people not able to vote for him. They look forward to the days and years ahead in which the man they didn't vote for makes his mark on the presidency they weren't able to vote for in of the country they were not members of.

The election of Barack Obama, the man we didn't vote for, is only slightly tarnished by the fact that Obama was only one of many potential candidates for the presidency of the USA that the people of the world were unable to vote for. Other candidates included Republican John McCain (who for many people across the world was their second favourite candidate for the presidency that they were unable to vote for) and Robert Mugabe (who most people, including Americans, were cheerfully unable to vote for, and was by far the most popular candidate for people not wanting to vote for him.)

Now, however, the debate will really begin: will the actual presidency of Barack Obama, the man that we were unable to vote for, be better or worse than the possible presidency of all the other people that we were unable to vote for? What if the president that the people of the world were unable to vote for and didn't want to vote for turns out to be better than the president that the people of the world were unable to vote for and did want to vote for? We can expect to see this debate unfold in the weeks and months to come.

During his long campaign for the presidency, Obama has repeatedly reached out to many people who have been unable to vote for him with inspiring campaign slogans like "Change you can't believe in!", "Yes, we can't!" and "No vote for change!"

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yay! and Neigh!

Being the first Tuesday of November, it's time for the Melbourne Cup! I was just remarking on this to a work colleague the other day, only to be interrupted by them talking about something else for the rest of the day.

In Australia, the Melbourne Cup is the most famous race in the world, but it's only a national holiday here in the state of Victoria. However, it's fitting that the Cup should take place in the city of Melbourne - that city being the national capital in Victoria. It should be noted, nevertheless, that in other Australian states - Sydney, for instance - Canberra is considered the national capital. This should in no way diminish the excitement the Cup causes amongst those likely to be excited by the Cup.

As Caz observes, being a horse race, the winner of the Cup is typically a horse; and, as Kathy notes, it is usually the horse which crosses the line first. But in gambling, nothing is certain, especially certainties, and so every year a good deal of excitement is generated around Australia as the race is televised through radio and newspapers and other televisual mediums.

There are many different names for this event around Australia. Here is a thorough, but by no means comprehensive, list (or, to put it another way, a comprehensive, but thoroughly undetailed, catalogue) of names:

- The Cup
- The Melbourne Cup
- The Race
- The Horse Race
- The horse thing

Of course, before concluding this brief peroration on the cup, the question must be asked: why do Australians like racing horses around an oval? The answer to this is complete and difficult, but it probably has something to do with them wanting to see who wins. And that is as good enough a reason as any that I'm going to give you tonight.

Slightly disturbing

Slightly disturbing: the blue vein cheese that's been sitting in my fridge for the past couple of weeks is looking much bluer than usual.

Maybe it's just getting riper?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

It's all about meme!

Via just about everyone comes a book meme!

What was the last book you bought?
That would be Peacock Pie, by Walter de la Mare; Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez; and English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, by C S Lewis. (That last is an online purchase, so it's not coming for a few days).

Name a book you have read more than once
Lots: Lucky Jim, Pride and Prejudice, The Final Programme, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and others.

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life?
No. I'm pretty sceptical about the ability of books to 'change' your life anyway, even more so than Tim - I tend to forget the details of what I read pretty quickly so that a day or two after I read a persuasive book, I'm unable to recall the arguments that persuaded me in the first place! I think generally the change happens the other way around - a person's outlook on life, or way of behaving, gradually changes as they get older, and a book, if it is persuasive enough, will help a person to articulate, describe, or understand these personal changes.

That being said, Pavlov's Cat lists several such books that have changed the way she saw life, and has good reasons for each of them.

How do you choose a book? eg by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews?
By obsession. My current obsessions are C S Lewis, and previous ones have included S J Perelman and Brian Aldiss.

Sometimes the cover helps as well.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Both. Which is to say neither. Why should I choose between the two? I like it when fictional characters argue with me as if they were presenting an essay they'd written, and I like it when non-fiction writers use fictional methods. Both types of writing have virtues; I love the flights of creative imagination in fiction; and in non-fiction, an original insight or a clever line of reasoning falls on my ear and my mind like a melody 'sweetly sung in tune.' Why distinguish between the two?

What's more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?
Sometimes one of the things that makes writing beautiful is a gripping plot. That being said, if you just throw a couple of jokes in from time to time you've pretty much got me hooked.

Most loved/memorable character
No idea. Jack Gudgeon in Here's Luck is pretty entertaining.

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?
News from Nowhere, by William Morris; Peacock Pie, by Walter de la Mare; Tom Brown's Schooldays, by Thomas Hughes; and a copy of Andromeda Spaceways.

I'm touched that you even think that I have a nightstand. It's more of a stack, really...

What was the last book that you read?
That Hideous Strength, by C S Lewis. Fabulous satire about a made-up bureaucratic/fascist organisation called NICE in the England of the 1950s. Things don't really get cracking until Merlin rises up out of his swampy grave and shows the bureaucrats what-for!

Have you ever given up on a book halfway in?
Sure, and sometimes I start reading a book halfway in, too. You can do that sort of stuff with poetry and short stories. It's more difficult (though not impossible) with novels and long essays.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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