My Books in Print

I’ll have an e-reader, Bob

The Good Guys

david-cameron460_1432533cOK, I’m not sure this is going to go down well, but I’m going to give it a try.

Today I saw a couple of videos online featuring supporters of Brexit. One was this report from RT about Britain First’s reception in Leicester as they tried to drum up support for an EU exit.

The other was this supposed ‘demolition’ of the CBI Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn by climate change denier and smug wanker Nigel Lawson.

I thought to myself, ‘I will always want to be on the other side from people like this.’ However, as I’m a Remain supporter, this means that I AM on the same side as Cameron and Osborne.

Which reminded me that, so far as the Conservative Party are concerned, Cameron and Osborne ARE the good guys. Cameron is a social liberal; Osborne’s political hero is LBJ. In terms of the Tories, they are the centre left. They are not fascists, and are barely even Thatcherites, but old fashioned Tory pragmatists; they do what all good Conservatives do, which is to look after the interests of their class. At the last election, 11 million people voted for them. Not all of those 11 million people are rabid racist loons. (We now have UKIP for that). Most of them are simply self-interested, and (wrongly in my view), see the Tories as the party best able to look after those interests. Imagine what the country would like like with their enemies in power; Boris Johnson, Pritti Patel, John Redwood, Nadine Dorres, Jacob Rees-Mogg et al.

In/Out is a binary question, a matter of black and white. Whatever side Britain First are on, I’m on the other side. That Lawson denies climate change shows how seriously we should take his views.Those in favour of Remain might have to be on the same side as Cameron and Osborne’s wing of the Tory Party, on this issue at least. But it really could be much worse; and will be, if Cameron loses the referendum.

Popular, but hard to get.

270px-Venice_ast_smAfter five years work on a book about the British Freaks (told through the person of my great good friend Bob Rowberry), I’m nearly there. Now I’m going through the text filling in the gaps. I’m trying to account for the ‘New Age’, and in particular, I want to answer the question, ‘Why do I know what my rising sign is?’ Put another way, how do we account for the revival in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s of popular astrology? My Mum doesn’t know what her rising sign is. I doubt my daughters do. But lots of people of a certain age can tell you odd astrological details about themselves; or explain tarot, or throw the I-Ching. Even skeptics like myself.

A quick knock about ont Interweb showed me that the best text on the subject is prolly Nicholas Campion’s ‘Astrology and Popular Religion in the Modern West.‘ Ninety five quid a pop; even the e-version is 75 sovs. A big ask for three or four paragraphs in my book. So, I toddle up to Presteigne Library, and arrange for an inter-library loan. And, five days later, here it is, sent to Presteigne from the British Library for six quid.

Presteigne’s library, like all libraries in Powys, like lots of libraries in the UK, is under threat of closure. People have been campaigning to keep it open. They cite the importance of access to libraries for children, or to internet access for those who don’t have it at home. These are clearly important reasons to keep libraries open. But I want to say a word on behalf of independant scholars and researchers. The fact that I can get an obscure academic publication in less than a week through my local library strikes me as remarkable. One of the great economic and social problems this country faces is the size and power of London. If not an inter-library loan, or forking out the best part of a ton, then I should have to go to the British Library myself; a day out of my life, and almost as much in train fares as buying the book. A local library, and the wonderful system of inter-library loans, means that I can do my work, at home in Mid-Wales. The irresponsible policy of library closures means that if we are not very careful, this will no longer be possible.

Carr’s Herefordshire, with extras….

carrs herefordshireThis is JL Carr’s map of Herefordshire (taken in a winter window, so there’s a bit of glare.)

Readers of this blog will remember the post earlier this year, where I wrote about solving the mystery of why JL Carr’s ‘A Month in the Country’ signs off with the words, ‘Stocken, Presteigne, 1978.’ Mr Danny Powell, who grew up at Stocken and lived there for most of his life, told me that he remembered the map-maker who had stayed in their orchard; and that, furthermore, he had given his family a copy of the map. This is Mr Powell’s copy, which he has been kind enough to lend me.

In the bottom right-hand corner, at about 5.30, next to Carr’s signature, you can see the words ‘…and thank you for the damsons and the pleasure of a fortnight in your field.’ (which leads me to assume he was there in September)










And, in the top left-hand corner, at about 11.00, a hand-drawn picture of Stocken, which doesn’t appear on the published map.










It has been a real privilege to have this copy in the house for a few weeks; huge thanks to Mr Powell, and to Victoria Mason-Canas, who took the photos.