Wednesday, 2 February 2011


One good thing about being back home right now is having access to my dad's books, which I'm honestly trying super hard to make use of despite the fact that I have a healthy generation web 2.0 attention span and pretty quickly lose interest in anything if it doesn't constantly update itself in real time. My intellectual potential was written off the moment I downloaded MSN Messenger in my teens and discovered the joys of logging in as a classmate and telling a girl that you wanted to nip her (obv I never had the social status to actually say the more usual 'Wanna nip my pal?' IRL). But anyway, I'm not a complete philistine as I appreciate the books' covers. These trippy Penguin Poets were all acquired by Dad in 1967 when he was 19 (he does that cute thing of writing his name and the date inside).

My fave by far is the Baudelaire and I'm in two minds about the Mallarmé - does it fall into 'polyester blouse noone wore in the 70s-themed Come Dine With Me on earlier' or 'Nicki Minaj new do' territory? As far as I can tell all these covers are by STEPHEN RUSS, apart from the sober but nice French and Russian ones.

UNRELATED: Partly inspired by How TV Ruined Your Life I watched THREADS, a 1984 play about the effects of a nuclear war on Sheffield, the other night and omfg it's unrelentingly grim. Even before the whole apocalypse thing, it has the ingrained misogyny and dreary nastiness of loads of British scary things I've seen from this period (see also THE HOUSE THAT BLED TO DEATH, a Hammer Horror - my best bit is when they're in Spain or LA or whatever at the end but it's clearly an English suburban executive detached home, although the blood-drenched sub-Carrie children's birthday party scene is very special). This led to a disconsolate nuclear all-nighter for me, including NUCLEAR WAR - A GUIDE TO ARMAGEDDON which tells you what would happen if an atomic bomb exploded above London. It's more of a documentary but equally upbeat; the deadpan way the narrator tells you that after all of the trendy 80s couple's (the dude is a 'musician' - I hear he later joined Fall Out Boy) elaborate preparations for nuclear war 'they would probably stay alive... FOR ABOUT SEVENTEEN SECONDS' is killer. It also shows you loads of chillingly mundane brochures for nuclear bunkers of varying elaborateness, which look more like documents you'd consult when choosing a new conservatory than something to save your life come the end of the world. They make it very apparent that if nuclear war were to break out and by some stroke of luck didn't destroy the whole planet the rich and rural just might conceivably survive while the poor and urban would be doomed. Ain't that just the way.


  1. I have this edition of Baudelaire, bought from a second hand book shop (the one on Great Western Road, just noticed you're from Glasgow too so you'll know it) and it had someone's name and the year written inside the cover too. Why does nobody do that any more? Pretty sure I still have some of those quaint book plate things my grandparents used to give me still lying around and it might be time to resurrect them.

  2. the one that's painted green? i know, it's a shame, and i kind of feel it's too late for me to start doing it now. i love getting/giving books as presents with something written inside tho. i also loved book plates as a child. i had some with a crocodile in a library on them, probably also given to me by my grandparents, and they only went in super special books. intriguing blog btw! and good taste in writers

  3. Yup, that's the one, straight across from the co-op (how poetic).

    And you're totally right about the Mallarmé cover being the weakest link. Although of the three he's my favourite. If your dad has any old-school Éluard editions you should definitely open that one.

    Intriguing is an excellent blog compliment btw, thank you. Ditto.