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Friday, 13 July 2012

July (50 shades of cloud)

Wet, Wet, Wet...

Very British, I know, but I'd like to take a moment to moan about the lack of summer so far. Despite official drought conditions, including hosepipe bans, both April and June this year have been the wettest for over a century. So when it's been dry AND sunny at the same time, I simply have to venture outside, just in case it's my last ever opportunity to feel warm.

 Today's walk up to the coffee shop and back took me past a building which is finally being demolished. I can't help feeling attached to certain buildings, regardless of their aesthetic appeal. The same also goes for my writing; after redrafting certain chapters of the novel over and over again, I've learnt there are things that have to face the chop: pretty, well-crafted sentences, paragraphs and asides that just won't cut it in terms of getting the story to where I want it to be. In their place, I hope something more long-lasting will rise, but I'll keep you posted...

And In Other News... (excuse the language)

It's great that we live in a democracy where you can use the words "fucking black cunt", be taken to court, and then given a not-guilty verdict for racism. In all fairness, the circumstances are about as unclear as they get: apparently the footballer in question was simply repeating an accusation against him. But I do hope it allows us to discuss racism in a more honest, open way without patronising, trivialising or going crazy. 

And on a lighter note (lighter! get it?) a website that makes me laugh.

50 Shades of Subjectivity

So, of course, I pass the local Waterstone's bookshop and browse through the chart list (hoping one day a novel by Keith Jarrett will top it!) I've kept my head in the sand book-wise, as I need to read through piles of stuff before I can afford to buy new books - there just isn't the space in my flat any more.

...And what do I see??

Number 1 - 50 Shades of Grey
Number 2 - something similar (50 Shades Greyer?)
Number 3 - again, something similar (50 Even More Darker Shades of Grey?)

I'm intrigued: I haven't seen anything like three books that look exactly the same on the top of a chart list for ages - well, at least since the Harry Potter era. I skim read half a page but it doesn't grab me and I still don't know what it's about and my phone rings anyway - and anyone who knows me knows I'm a polite kind of guy who doesn't like to shout WHAT!? I'M IN A BOOKSHOP! when I'm on the phone - so I kind of made a quick exit and almost forget the whole thing.

But then I read something in the letters page of a paper, responding to someone who was appalled that so many women are reading it. His comment went something like: I wouldn't "read" a lads mag with topless women on the front cover, so why do women get away with reading these "erotic" books?

Then, despite not having read the books, I had several immediate reactions:

1) The guy's an idiot: we still have The Sun newspaper which does feature topless women on Page Three. At least choose something more relative!
2) Call me biased but I do like to differentiate lads mag photography - which doesn't generally require much imagination - from erotic literature and
3) even from photography which relies on the nude/vaguely erotic form but has artistic merit
4) although these books do sound, cynically, like another "hype ting" and I'd like to know why people are reading them.     

Having thought all of that, my reactions haven't been as strong as a good friend of mine who posted the following on Facebook today:
[I wish] death on anyone reading '50 Shades of Grey'. If that includes you, may I please suggest the 'unfriend' option?
So, for the sake of friendship, I shall comment no further!

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