My entirely non-radical reading list


This is probably unspeakably tiresome, so don’t feel obliged… It’s a list of the books in my to-read pile. It’s overwhelmingly dead, white, European – in fact English – males, and this bothers me.

  • The Cinque Ports, a Historical and Descriptive RecordFord Madox Ford
  • Return To Yesterday – Ford Madox Ford (now)
  • The Way of all Flesh – Samuel Butler
  • A High Wind in Jamaica – Richard Hughes
  • Twilight of the Gods and Other Tales– Richard Garnett
  • Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  • The Invention of Nature: How Alexander Von Humboldt Revolutionized Our World –  Andrea Wulf
  • A month in the country –  JL Carr
  • The Journal of a Disappointed Man – WMP Barbellion (next?)
  • Hot Water – PG Wodehouse (done)
  • The Habsburg Monarchy 1809-1918 – AJP Taylor
  • The Red House Mystery – AA Milne
  • The Parthenon – Mary Beard
  • In a Class of Their Own: A History of English Amateur Football – Terry Morris (done) My Amazon review here

-There’s some quite demanding stuff here so I’ll have to leaven it with some Terry Pratchett and some Milligan, who are sadly also DWEMs.

-It’s about time I reread To The Lighthouse and Scenes of Clerical Life, so DWEW get a foot in the door.

-I haven’t read any Wilkie Collins for a while either. Dickens is covered for now as I’ve got Little Dorrit on audiobook, beautifully read by Mil Nicholson.


-Additionally I’ve got about 20 books on my A****n Wish List, none of which are shown above, so I’d be immensely grateful if #Bookshambles, @backlistedpod and others would lay off telling me about great new stuff and just recommend things I’ve already read for a few months if that’s OK.

-Of course if Gotham Season 2 comes on Netflix soon, if Hastings United make a serious promotion bid or if I just come over all anti-intellectual I’ll only be able to manage reading Angry People In Local Newspapers When Saturday Comes. but that’s OK too.

-A good thriller. Someone recommend me a good thriller.

PS I had the great pleasure of briefly meeting Alan Judd on the train on Monday. Mr Judd wrote this biography of Ford Madox Ford , which he’ll be delighted to know I instantly ordered when I got home. He’ll be less delighted when I say that I bought it 2nd hand for 1p + p&p.



Near Etchingham. A lake that was and will again be a field.

On my way home on the train I pass the town of Etchingham, East Sussex. Etchingham is lucky enough to share a landscape with the river Rother, which at this time of year (if you’re listening to the podcast*, winter) doesn’t so much as run through said landscape as sprawl across it in a great laky manner. The citizenry and their elected representatives appear to be able to treat this as normal rather than being annually caught by surprise and so at no time have houses and concrete been placed where the river Rother needs to be. Paraphrasing loosely the writings of the great Monbiot, elsewhere in the land less intelligence is applied and in fact farmers are positively encouraged, with subsidies, to funnel all their excess water into dredged-out concrete conduits and tip it into villages further downhill where houses and concrete have been modishly placed for its reception, with hilarious results**.

This is an example of Good Government and Business-Friendly light-touch regulation for hard-working communities, as well as providing occupation for our remaining firemen, soldiers and makers of sandbags, who can sponge up the water instead of sponging off the state.

Sadly for the foresightful semi-aquatic Kevin Costner-evolved people of Etchingham they will not benefit from the attentions of our fatuous Prime Minister, wearing Concerned Face #3 and his second-best wellies. I feel their loss.


** not

On the train.



Opposite, a man older than me, if you can imagine such a being, such a Struldbrug, manspreading around me to the extent that I must keep my knees together like the best sort of virgin aunt. He is now asleep as befits the elderly. I hope he gets off soon, or better still misses his stop. I can bear further discomfort if he is discomfited in turn.

Welcome to Lilliput Mr Corbyn.

The wearing or not-wearing of ties, the wearing or not-wearing of poppies. Bowing and not-bowing, singing and not-singing. The way to advancement or its opposite in 2015.

Jonathan Swift was onto this bloody nonsense nearly 300 years ago.

When a great office is vacant, either by death or disgrace (which often happens,) five or six of those candidates petition the emperor to entertain his majesty and the court with a dance on the rope; and whoever jumps the highest, without falling, succeeds in the office.

The emperor holds a stick in his hands, both ends parallel to the horizon, while the candidates advancing, one by one, sometimes leap over the stick, sometimes creep under it, backward and forward, several times, according as the stick is advanced or depressed.  Sometimes the emperor holds one end of the stick, and his first minister the other; sometimes the minister has it entirely to himself.  Whoever performs his part with most agility, and holds out the longest in leaping and creeping, is rewarded with the blue-coloured silk; the red is given to the next, and the green to the third, which they all wear girt twice round about the middle; and you see few great persons about this court who are not adorned with one of these girdles.

  • A Voyage to Lilliput, Chapter 3