Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cold War nostalgia and the new Russia

The Nation is still publishing long, heated articles about who was a spy, who was a fellow-traveller and who was neither in the 1930s and 40s; these days, though, the online version comes with a Google-served ad for a Russian dating/bridal/I-really-don't-want-to-click-and-find-out agency. Not sure what that symbolises, but it certainly symbolises something.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

What happened to Marie Antoinette's wigmakers?

There is apparently a significant industry - one containing at least several companies - dedicated to the manufacture of "deal toys", given by financial-industry types to mark the signing of large contracts. Its signature material is lucite, a clear plastic heavier and more expensive than glass, into which plaques and objects of symbolic significance can be embedded. Obviously, this industry is in deep trouble.

Also: the FT's Weekend magazine placed its wonderfully dry piece on the subject - my source for everything in the paragraph above - immediately after its serialisation of the Gillian Tett book on how ill-advised financial-indsutry deals blew up the world economy. I sometimes suspect that FT Weekend is trying to incite a revolution, probably aimed at readers of How to Spend It.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A small wish

One day I'd like to have enough space, or few enough books, to look at a shelf like this and just think "Cool!", rather than imagine myself snapping a curlicue as I try desperately to stuff on another couple of Oxford World's Classics.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Links, apologies

This is a badly neglected blog. I now hope to change that - the aim will be to have something, even if just links, up every day. Holding your breath probably remains a bad idea. But...

- If you liked films redesigned as Romek Marber-ish paperbacks, you will probably also like the Blue Note version of the Wu-Tang Clan.

- Mary Beard proposes a do-as-you-would-be-done-by school of reviewing, which seems sensible in the context of reviewing books about classics for the TLS, where the interests of author and reader are relatively close together, but may not apply to the reviewing of general-readership books for a general readership.

Get your stereotypes of Germany direct from Berlin, where J Carter Wood is reading Three Men on a Bummel. Of his quotes, I particularly liked this one:

This is the charm of German law: misdemeanour in Germany has its fixed price. You are not kept awake all night, as in England, wondering whether you will get off with a caution, be fined forty shillings, or, catching the magistrate in an unhappy moment for yourself, get seven days. You know exactly what your fun is going to cost you. You can spread out your money on the table, open your Police Guide, and plan out your holiday to a fifty pfennig piece. For a really cheap evening, I would recommend walking on the wrong side of the pavement after being cautioned not to do so. I calculate that by choosing your district and keeping to the quiet side streets you could walk for a whole evening on the wrong side of the pavement at a cost of little over three marks.

Coming soon-ish here: posts on Leadville, the reprinting of Cooking in a Bedsitter and the decline (long ago) of competition in the British regional press; plus the instalment of the Street View abecedary I promised a month and a day ago...