Hello, good evening, and welcome!

Hi all!

To those of you that knew the pre-fame me - no, I won't buy you a Faberge egg. You probably won't even get a Creme Egg, to be honest. To those of you who are reading my blog for the first time, welcome! Have a Faberge Creme Egg!

Seriously, it's great to see you and even greater that my afternoon of rambling was turned into something entertaining enough to bring you here. I won't gild the lily because we're all busy people (those objets d'art don't papier mache themselves, you know, and as for the French punctuation lessons...). I'd like to invite you to check out my other blog posts and also my archive, which are being added to all the time.

One of the first things I've had to accept is that not all of the stuff I wanted to talk about has made it into the finished podcast, mainly for reasons of time. You can probably tell that I was itching to unleash that English Upper Second Class, so kudos to Thank Book For for not indulging me. But as this is my blog, and you're probably wondering why it's taken you so long to fall at my feet, I wanted to offer some extra material that didn't get through. Some was recorded and cut, but here's the purged material, relating to each question.

Favourite book - I wanted to mention Stasiland by Anna Funder. It's a look at the old East German Stasi (secret police) and the creepy, underhand ways in which they spied on the populace. Funder is a gentle, persistent presence with her heart on her sleeve, and some of the stories of insidious paranoia are just skin-crawling. Growing up, you can't go wrong with the following (usually Penguin) classics: On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Junky by William Burroughs, The Stranger by Albert Camus, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey.

Favourite Author - Growing up, it was Robert Harris, which for unknown reasons turned up as a discussion question in my German GCSE oral exam. Fittingly, I adored Fatherland, which is a fiction about a Germany where Hitler won. I haven't been THAT impressed by anything since (though Enigma is very well plotted and Pompeii is breakneck fast), but I discovered his non fic: Selling Hitler, Gotcha and A Higher Form of Killing are worth more than a second read. And don't just stick with 1984 for Orwell: my dissertation were on grime and disgust in Coming Up for Air and Down and Out in Paris and London, and are very, very good reads in their own right.
What Are You Reading Right Now? - I've recently finished a biography of Bobby Moore by Matt Dickinson. It was good, and I learned some stuff, but I chiefly wanted to know about the famous bracelet. For those that don't know, Moore was England captain for about ten years, and heading into the World Cup defence in 1970, he was accused of stealing a bracelet in Bogota, Colombia, while travelling to a friendly. Although almost certainly a false accusation, rumours have persisted for decades there is more to the story. It was that which I was interested in, since I want the story to be about that period, what went wrong and why. For my current book, I read The Skeleton Cupboard by Tania Byron, which is a series of case histories from her training as a psychologist. Some of it is quite upsetting and powerful.

Which Book Do You Love That Nobody Has Heard Of? - Every music fan NEEDS to read Lipstick Traces by Greil Marcus, England's Dreaming by Jon Savage, Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan, Rotten by John Lydon, You Never Give Me Your Money by Peter Doggett and Revolution In The Head by Iain McDonald. Sports fans need to read Engage by Matt Hampson, Brilliant Orange and Those Feet by David Winner, Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper and Among The Thugs by Bill Buford. A good general interest one is Aftermath by Donovan Webster, where the author tours old battlefields, and everyone should be issued a copy of The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, which is short stories based around a single chemical element through which he describes his survival at Auschwitz. A personal shout out goes to Walsall author Paul MacDonald, whose books Surviving Sting and Kiss Me Softly Amy Turtle are hilarious in and of themselves, but he also was kind enough to give me some writing advice when I was first starting out. He did a reading at Libraries when I was there and pissed himself at his own reading - a man cut from the same cloth as me!

The Most Disappointing Film Adaptation - I haven't seen the film or read the book, but there was a trailer for a film called Labor Day, based on a novel by Joyce Maynard. By the looks of it, Josh Brolin plays an escaped con who takes Kate Winslet and her lad hostage, and they bond over bottling peaches. It looked heavy handed, hacky and ultimately awful. Quick shout out to Stephen King's It - Pennywise the clown was the scariest bloody thing I'd ever seen. When he turned into a giant spider in part two, they destroyed the adaptation completely.

The best film adaptation - like I said in the podcast, I could go for hours on this. But surprisingly, Die Hard was based on a book; Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp. That was pretty successful, I'd have thought! But there are loads more: Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick); Total Recall (We Can Remember It For You Wholesale by the same author); Starship Troopers (based on the book by Robert A Heinlein); Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources by Marcel Pagnol and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. I haven't seen the film; the book was the only one that I couldn't do anything afterwards but sit in silence.

Which Book Would You Like To See Turned Into A Film? - Unfortunately, the podcast was wrapped before I discovered there was already a film adaptation of The Bang Bang Club. There are loads that could be films, but I feel one area which has been almost completely forgotten is the Balkan Conflict of 1990-95. Peter Maas's Love Thy Neighbour is utterly brutal and desolate but part of me wants to see that pushed into people's view, particularly in the current climate about refugees. Read it at the risk of your own conscience.

Five People You'd Invite For A Dinner Party - I was pleased at my five, though I tried to avoid autobiography or pure fact based literature. I would have liked to have included Robert Harris because of his non fiction - he was a political writer at The Times in a very turbulent period of British politics, so he would be interesting to talk to, I think. And knowing what I know about Roald Dahl's pre-writing career (not just his superb memoirs, Boy and Going Solo as a spy for the British puts his adult fiction in a new light - I've often thought quite a lot of his narrators stand and watch the action. Now I know why!

Phew! Enough for another podcast there, I think! Well, I'm game. But for now, I'd be chuffed if you went away and chose one of my recommendations. Why not let me know if you've read any or if there's something you think I might like!


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