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On 1st March we moved to a new blogging system.

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Friday, 28 August 2009


A bumper catch-up comment review for you all. Hope I cover everything - apologies in advance for anything I miss.

Thanks for all your fascinating comments regarding Banksy. The general feeling was that whatever the quality of his ‘works’ we ought not to encourage more graffiti in our cities. Naheed – thank you for the link to the German 3 D artist Edgar Mueller. He was new to me, too. Maione – I guess the question is whether Banksy is making meaningful protest statements or just attracting attention to himself. He has become an anonymous celebrity

Ana Paula – there’s no doubt that properly organised ‘street art’ can have value. I only wonder sometimes whether we don’t help legitimize gang activity by glamorising things like ‘tags. Difficult, isn’t it?

I got the feeling that my photo of the rain didn’t make many of you want to rush to book a beach holiday in the UK. And Henrique, Pilar, Dougie have stronger arguments to make for Spain and Brazil. Boska, I’m probably the wrong gender to comment about the skin benefits of rain – I do know that the sun can do damage even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Umair I knew about some of the hill stations in India but not the one you mention. Very interesting. Murray is a very Scottish name, incidentally.

Leila – yes it's nice to have four distinct seasons. That was something I missed when I lived in Madrid. And apparently it’s why Rod Stewart doesn’t live in LA full-time – so we’re in good company (or not, depending on your taste!)

And that was a terrible jab pun, by the way! Even worse than mine! Now whom can I tell this joke to....?

Felippo – Massive Attack were Bristol’s biggest export of the 1990s. Portishead are named after their hometown, which is only a few miles away from Bristol.

The rapper Tricky also comes from an area of Bristol that is quite close to where I live

Paulraj - I assume you are talking about graded readers rather than ‘bridging’ texts in the original language? My general position is that depends on what you would like reading in your first language. I also have to be a bit careful about self-promotion here as I written a lot in this area. But talking generally I might suggest by genre:

Comedy – Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Goldsmith
Ghost/horror – Dickens ‘The Signalman Robert Louis Stevenson ‘The Body Snatcher’
Thriller: Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson (I did a version for Longman) Donna Tart's 'The Secret History'
Psych drama – Washington Square by Henry James, Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (very long in the original but a fascinating portrait of the modern world.
Sci Fi – Do Androids Dream by Phillip Dick

For unsimplified authentic materials I'd look at North American short stories: people like: John Updike, Richard Ford, Alice Monroe, Tobias Wolfe.

Olya – I sympathise regarding Virginia Woolf. I struggled through ‘Mrs Dalloway’ and To The Lighthouse for my first degree. She relies on interior monologue – a technique that is supposed to replicate the randomness of our every day thought patterns. Unfortunately, this makes the prose hard to follow as there’s no conventional narrative structure.

Generally, I prefer traditional narrative to modernist experimentation – though I’m a huge fan of James Joyce (I wrote my masters dissertation on him). And even with Joyce I think the technical trickery went too far. I still can’t make head nor tail of Finnegan’s Wake.


- unusually large or long

rush - hurry
Make head nor tail of – can’t understand at all


Rod Stewart is OK, I am pleased to be in his party with you Kieran! Maybe my terrible jab pun would be appreciated by medicine people, or anyone who survives the great stab.

Thanks for all your contributions. This blog has now closed and can no longer accept new comments.

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