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About Colin

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  • Birthday 30/12/1952


  • Biography
    Born Tyneside but have lived in various places including Nottingham, London and Sydney, Australia
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  • Interests
    Writing, gardening, environment,
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  1. Hope this doesn't trivialise this thread Barblue but I've just started reading 'Six Feet Over' by Mary Roach. It's subtitled 'Adventures in the Afterlife' and it's essentially looking at people (including scientists) who've done work on things like reincarnation, spirits etc. This includes the surprisingly large number of people who have tried to weigh a person's soul (in some, rather disturbing, cases by weighing people as they die). There are various other odd things (such as the once popular belief in 'ectoplasm', which was believed to emerge from the orifices of spirit mediums) - which is probably why I like it so much. Less than half way through at present but it promises to be an entertaining read throughout.
  2. I quite agree (although I'm not averse to a nice mix of colours purely for decorative purposes - as long as it's not accompanied by pretentious and irrelevant clap trap!). But it's not just 'works of art' that annoy me - some 'artspeak' is just beyond belief too. My most recent favourite example was when the Tate Britain paid an athlete to run repeatedly around the galleries. Apparently it was supposed to demonstrate that there's more than one way to look at paintings! Apart from the fact that it would be very difficult to appreciate much art while you're speeding past it, I can't help thinking that anyone else who even broke into a trot in the Tate would be jumped on and evicted by security!
  3. The full title of this book is 'The $12million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art and Auction Houses'. In a nutshell, it's looking at why people pay vast amounts of money for items that most people would struggle to call art (e.g. the shark in the title is the one that Damien Hirst bought for six thousand pounds and had stuffed and mounted in a large tank of formaldehyde. He sold it to Charles Saatchi for 50,000 pounds. Despite the fact that the shark actually began to decompose and one of its fins fell off, Saatchi sold it to a US investment banker for $12million). I'm just getting into the book but, already, it's clear that we're talking about another world to that inhabited by we mere mortals. For example, the guy who bought the shark earns $17million a week! Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's also obvious that this is all about investment rather than art appreciation. I guess I shouldn't jump to premature conclusions but I'm pretty certain this isn't going to improve my view of the likes of Hirst and Tracy Emin!
  4. Thanks Flingo; that helps make a bit more sense of it.
  5. When I was growing up in the North-East, my grandmother used to use the words 'starved' or 'starving' in relation to being cold (so you could be 'starving cold' or 'starving hungry') And did anyone else go plodging at the seaside?
  6. I often wonder if you keep your anger bottled up it means you're inraged as opposed to outraged. And I keep telling myself that on my next trip to the USA I'll ask for my eggs 'over difficult'!
  7. I've just finished reading this book and first reaction is that I'd have to agree with anyone who says it's overlong. I must admit, I'm not a great fan of large books (although have been happy to stick with large tomes like Edward Rutherfurd's 'London' or 'Sarum' as they do cover thousands of years.). I was happy to give this one a go too but got a little irritated with the repetition (for example, the fact that the same parts of the house were repeatedly described in detail whenever one of the main characters arrived there) I also felt that the 'action' was also unnecessarily prolonged (for example, I thought the number of times the various characters were captured then escaped was excessive and a fairly obvious device for simply extending (and already overlong) story). I think a good edit certainly wouldn't have harmed this book and would significantly improve the pacing. There were certainly some good parts to it and I'm not sorry I read it; however, I gather there's a sequel planned - and I know I certainly won't be reading that!
  8. I lived in Australia for 14 years although am now back in the UK. Every now and then I get strange looks from my English friends when I use a word that I thought was fairly universal but turns out to be an Australianism. The one that comes to mind immediately is 'shonky' - meaning dodgy. Is that really unknown over here?
  9. I've never actually read DVC but have picked up the general gist from all the publicity it's had. I guess I've always assumed that, given it's immense popularity, it was a lot better written than the Shakespeare Secret. Please don't tell me the two books are as bad as each other!!
  10. I read this book when it first came out in the mid-70's. The blurb said 'this book will change your life': it certainly changed mine - I wasted a couple of years of it trying to get into the book! But I'm delighted to hear that you got something out of it Squirls; I never managed to get all the way through. I do remember him talking about a 'chautauqua' or some such Native American gathering and I think he did use a couple of examples of motorbike mechanics to try and illustrate something but the significance of it all went over my head I'm afraid. If I remember correctly, (and it's more than 30 years ago so bear with me!) 'Jonathon Livingstone Seagull' came out at about the same time and was also billed as a life-changing book. To me it was just a fairy tale for grown ups about some bloody bird!
  11. I read the book after seeing the TV adaptation. Couldn't help conjuring up images of Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews et al as I read - which I actually found quite helpful. I thought Waugh's prose was absolutely fantastic but very much a period piece; haven't come across any contemporary literature with that kind of lush prose. As for the theme; I thought it was about guilt and manipulation:the way the mother's manipulation of her kids extended well beyond her lifetime, Julia's guilt about Rex and her affair with Charles,the father's death bed conversion and even Charles apparent conversion at the end of the book. I'm not a Catholic so apologies if I offend anyone of that faith but it seemed to me to be making a fairly explicit link between guilt, manipulation and the Catholic Church. Having said that, I'm sure I read somewhere that Waugh himself had converted to Catholicism pretty late in life too. There should be a movie version out very soon. Hard to imagine cramming all of that storyline into two hours or so but apparently they've focused on Charles and Julia's relationship and played down the earlier 'thing' with Sebastian (relationship/just good friends - it seems like the jury will be out on that one forever!). Can't say I'm looking forward to it as the TV production was so faithful to the book (obviously helped by the fact that it's about 12 hours longer than a movie!) The only other Waugh book I've read is 'Scoop', which I found completely different and not half as enjoyable (even though the storyline was a lot more 'straightforward'). Apparently Evelyn Waugh's estate have just appointed a new, very ruthless agent who's demanding an awful lot more money from publishers (and, presumably, film companies) for the rights to his works. It will be interesting to see how that pans out.
  12. I did a life drawing class about ten years ago and gave up in frustration. At the beginning of this year I worked my way through about half of the exercises in this book. Last month I started another life drawing class and I can really see the improvement in my work. I have to say that we do have a brilliant teacher who is helping enormously but even before he started 'in-putting' on my work I noticed how much I'd absorbed things like 'negative spaces' that Drawing on the Right Side covers.
  13. My partner bought this book largely because it's set in Cambridge, where we've just moved to, and also because he likes ghost stories. He abandoned it fairly early on so I gave it a go. There are three main story lines - the 'ghost' bit that involves an investigation into Isaac Newton's (the 'discoverer' of gravity) links to alchemy; a vicious campaign by animal rights activists against people working in local research labs; and an on-again-off-again relationship between the main character and a guy who's very big in the animal experimentation business. It tends to ramble on a bit (literally and figuratively going down all sorts of alleys and passageways) and I really couldn't work out the relevance of a lot of historical stuff. I'm not really familiar with ghost stories but can't help thinking that the 'ghostie' bit in this tale was a bit thin and, in some cases, unintentionally hilarious (for example, the explanation of a scorch mark high up on a wall was just plain silly). Certainly there was nothing in the slightest bit scary or 'spooky' about any of it. I almost gave up (and, indeed, started reading another book (Glass Books of the Dream Eaters) which I don't normally do till I've finished the previous one)but kept going back to it just to get to the end to see if there was some miraculous revelation that pulled it all together. There wasn't: the various story lines just seemed to get completed in a rather predictable manner. No surprises - and certainly no shocks.
  14. I haven't posted for a while but I just had to ask if anyone else has read this awful book. I bought it after reading an article about it in 'Writer's Forum' magazine: apparently it's been really successful sales-wise despite a minimal amount of publicity from the publisher's. That sounded suitably impressive so I forked out my hard earned cash and took a copy home. Oh dear, what a mistake. It's predictable, the characters are shallow and the plot sails from one implausible situation to another. Presumably linking it to Shakespeare and his works is an attempt to give it some literary credibility. It doesn't work! I have to be honest and say I only got to page ninety-something: I was beginning to lose the will to live by that point and had to resort to my 'comfort read', 'Tales of the City', to cheer myself up. I have subsequently read reviews of this book on Amazon and other online booksellers and seriously wish I'd read them first. Could have saved me a few pounds. I note it's not listed anywhere on BGO (or have I missed it?). Is that a sign?
  15. Just to let everyone know, we've made a couple of improvements to the Commuters Book Club (http://www.commutersbookclub.com). The first is that we've scrapped the membership fee. The second is that we've added a Book News section with an RSS feed. And, as always, we welcome any feedback on the site. Thanks Colin
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