Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At last! a piccie of Sarah!

and a younger Sam, Lucy & Dylan. Knab Rock, 2004

Monday, November 21, 2005

White Teeth

I never did find out what the ‘White Teeth’ of the title referred to. Was this an allusion to the plans of one of the characters to become a dentist? Or that the book was a tale of three families and their ‘roots’. Indeed, one character does have their upper teeth knocked out in a bizarre Vespa and oak tree incident, or is it just the one thing that all the characters have in common? Looking back, it does seem to be that the history’s of each character is described as his/her root-canal. Not an allegory that works particularly well I think.

White Teeth is about three modern families: the Iqbals, post-war Bengali immigrants; the Joneses, one a frumpy Londoner and his unfeasibly young Jamaican bride; and the Chalfens, the last in a long line of wandering European Israelites.

Most of the characters worked for me, apart for Archie Jones. This character was supposed to be dull and ununteresting, and was. This made his whirlwind romance, and marriage, to a young girl of west indian descent, (20ish years his junior), too unbelieveable for me. The Iqbals were charaterised really well. The 1st generation dad, the young, arranged bride, and thier two sons. The way in which one veered to the secular, scientific, west, and the other to the hip, bangla, sassy, and eventually fundamentalist. I loved the jehovah's witness Jamacan Mother , and her story.
The Chalfen's were fabulous, too, in a pseudo trendy liberal way that some families seem to develop

The tale begins when Archie Jones meets Samad Miah Iqbal when they are both posted to the ‘buggered battalion’ of misfits and ne’er do wells of the Royal Engineers. It is the latter stages of WWII and eventually they become firm friends, sharing a dark secret that they will carry through their lives. The novel then charts their lives; marriages, divorces and the lives of their children, who eventually get mixed up with the Chalfen family of mixed Catholic/Jewish roots. The book ends in one of those slightly forced set pieces, where all of the disparate come together in one unbelievable finale.

Overall I found the book entertaining. The insight into the life of a Bengali Muslim family, struggling to come to terms with the difference in values between the old ways and modern British secular ways was very well done. There were several ideas that rang true to me from my personal observations of first and second generation Bengali’s in Swansea. I think the story was very believable and not far from the truth for many British Bengali’s. The characterisation of how Islam was entwined in the lives of the Iqbals seemed very authentic the dichotomy between secularism and fanaticism, east and west, British and Muslim.

As for the Jamaican experience in Britain, this was also believable although I have no personal experience of this history. The descriptions seemed very real and plausible and the research very thorough.

I suppose really that this is about the legacy of Britain’s colonial past, the history of Britain in the Indian sub-continent, the Caribbean and even Europe after WWII. It shows how these past actions run through and effect our lives today and are still influencing the way we live and the problems we face and the issues we are still struggling with.

I'd Give it 7/10 overall, a good read, tacking some interesting modern issues.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

more Matthewses

The lord of the manor

& the Christmas Fayre

(unfortunately, the piccie I have of Sarah doesn't want to load :( )

Christmas Card List

I have been told that I am remiss, in not mentioning my oldest living mate on any of these posts so far. So, as to make amends, and ensure that I remain on the Christmas Card List, here's one for The Matthewses Of Bradford On Avon:-

The lovely Lucy & Sam (& a bemused Dylan)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Anniversary of the death of Dylan Thomas, 9 November 1953


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

"WALES. See under ENGLAND".

from wikipedia:-

"Wales was for centuries dwarfed by its larger neighbour, England. Indeed, one well-known British encyclopedia was said — perhaps apocryphally — to have had an entry reading "WALES. See under ENGLAND.

Act of Union 1536 abolished the remaining Marcher Lordships, and applied the Law of England to both England and Wales, requiring the English language for official purposes. This excluded most native Welsh from any formal office.

In 1955 steps were taken to re-establish a sense of national identity for Wales when Cardiff was established as its capital. Before this, legislation passed by the UK parliament had simply referred to England, rather than England and Wales."

Monday, November 07, 2005

Vernon God Little

Just finished Vernon God Little , by DBC Pierre, crazy name, crazy guy, crazy book!

a rip-roarer of a read, set in the Barbeque Sauce Capital of Central Texas. The teenage narrator has the misfortune to be best mates with a messed up kid, who is responsible for a Columbine style massacre at their local High School. The tale then unfolds, charting how Vernon is accused of being an accessory, and how he is manipulated by those around him. The story then becomes a chilling insight on how america deals with such events, and the forces that whirl around the story.

One of the best aspects of the book for me was the authenticity of the teenage voice, and those around him. I could really imagine that the perspectives were real, until close to the end of the book, where it all goes a bit "Natural Born Killers".
In fact, the similarity between the two works, how they look at the way americans view, and manipulate, such events is striking indeed.

Overall, I would give the book a 8/10 rating, loosing a few points for the unreality of the end.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

how much for all this rubbish?

blog is worth $0.00.
How much is your blog worth?

thanks nick , Its good to confirm what i'd suspected all along..........

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

only 10 types of people

There are only 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.............

thanks to David Harcombe for making me laugh