Bosh! I’ve been tagged by a meme. After five months of blogging Dave Semple has very kindly tagged me with my first.
It’s taken me a while to get to it but as I sit here, drying out from an ill considered kick-about in the rain, I think it is at the end of holiday season that it is the perfect time to review my reading.
If you click here you’ll be redirected to a more or less comprehensive list of what I’ve read in over the summer, but if that doesn’t interest you – and why would it? – read on for my book review.
bit of a blur by Alex James
I could quite easily (or not so easily) review Anna Karenina or Capitalism and Freedom but that wouldn’t nearly be as fun and I wouldn’t add anything particularly new or interesting to what’s already been said. But Bit of a Blur is about on my level.
“Bit of a Blur” is magisterial in it’s decadence and reminded me that I am only writing a politics blog because I never made it as a musician. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved politics and was always slightly hurt by the idea that “politics is showbusiness for ugly people” but you can’t read this book without realising you really really really wanna be Jim Morrisey.
Alex James wastes little time on his upbringing before getting to the really good bit about being a rock star: The utterly pointless self-indulgence
I’ve spent a million pounds on champagne and cocaine. It sounds ridiculous but, looking back, I don’t regret it. It was definitely the right thing to do. It was completely decadent, but I was a rock star, after all, a proper one with a public duty to perform.
There’s also the time he decided to learn to fly and bought his band mate “Dave the drummer”‘s spare plane, as you do. This book is alive with stories that make you realise how fun life can when you are (willingly) unaware of the hardships others live through and your income is not restricted to call centre wages.
Of course it’s not all fun. You can’t read this without feeling sorry for his long suffering girlfriend Justine. She put up with a lot of arrogant rock star behaviour beyond mere adultery. And yet you can’t help but be drawn in by James’ delivery even as he has treated his girlfriend so badly. Their heart-wrenching break up is related as the thing which James “judges all other pain against.”
Good is not the word for it, it’s pure entertainment. But in reality I’m not sure I’m jealous. I’m not a rock star, I am writing a political blog and I’m not unaware of the darkside of the world James inhabited.
From the dreadful recording contract Blur are drafted into to the amount of Cocaine that drifted up James’ nose you can’t miss the fucked up politics and economics of this world.
My opinion on illegal drugs has been party covered here; in short they should be legal, regulated, taxed and enjoyed.
The fact that the supply chain for Cocaine glistens with blood means that I can’t ever imagine myself in James’ position and nor would I want to.
In his defence he was too wrapped up in his own ego at the time to realise what was happening, and he has made some effort to understand the situation since going straight.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough but the lifestyle I can do without. As much as it is nice to read about someone living like that I think I know too much to do it myself .
What have I read? I’m sure I’ve forgotten some but I think the fiction to non-fiction ratio is correct. Writing a political blog will do that, if you’re not careful, all your reading becomes research. Well, I’ll start with non-fiction in no particular order.
- Kicking Away the Ladder: Policies and Institutions for Economic Development in Historical Perspective by Ha-Joon Changa (a big inspiration for this post, and one I can heartily recommend paul Cotterill)
- Red Dust by Ma Jian
- Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
- The Big Read Train Ride by Eric Newby
- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
- Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
- Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman (rule one: know yourself, rule two: know your enemy)
- I’m still reading The Making of the English Working Class by E P Thompson. (I feel like Tigger, if it this difficult to digest it must be good for me)
- The Ghetto Fights by Marek Endelman
- I’ve just begun Cocaine by Dominic Streatfeild (A difficult one to read at work, it is a history book, but I guess the wrong sort of history)
- I recently read up on wine too for my intermediate WSET qualification. You’ll be pleased to know I got a distinction and I definitely know my Claret from my Beaujolais…
- …which seemlessly segués into my review of Bit of a Blur by Alex James
And the fiction too:
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (a good read, but yes, the ending is rubbish, the Southpark on is much better)
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Metamorphosis and other short stories by Franz Kafka
- We by Eugene Zamiatin
All of these link to Amazon but that doesn’t mean I want you to shop there. As much as I would love a lucrative career plugging their service I do actually have a better idea. Go here, get it and never pay over the odds for anything again.
Invisible Hand scans t’interweb, finds the best price and then lets you know where your book, CD or DVD is available cheapest. Genius!
I won’t tag anyone, I don’t want to remind them that holidays seem well and truly behind us.