Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homepage

The death of Sue Townsend hits hard. I was fourteen in 1982 and had started my own diary that year, so was an eager audience for the first Adrian Mole book. I’ve been reading them ever since, as each new one appeared: a kind of fictional 7 Up series, but featuring my peers, albeit as seen by an elder. It helped that they contained some of the best comic writing around: funny, cutting, warm, wise.

Read More · 11 April 2014 · People

Popular galloped through 1997 in just over two months, which is some sort of track record. I wasn’t expecting to like as many of the year’s UK number ones as I did—over half of them, in the end. Here are my more substantial comments on the year’s closing hits.

Read More · 11 April 2014 · Music

Some of my weightier musical thoughts from meaty Popular threads, as its canter through 1997 continued.

Read More · 11 April 2014 · Music

Disappearing Worlds

What do music fans of 13 and 64 have in common?

We missed losing every hard-disk on Earth by nine days in 2012.

Sellotape selfies go viral.

Kafka’s joke book.

Local news for local people.

John Steinbeck’s advice to his son on falling in love.

Geoff Dyer: “When I stood up half the world had disappeared.”

Most red-state Americans now believe climate change is real.

Dead currents, stagnant oceans, H2S skies and the next mass extinction: Our future in a world without ice caps.

31 March 2014 · Weblog

Mulholland Drive-By

Even if you’ve already seen Matt Mulholland’s captivating cover of “My Heart Will Go On” (via here if nowhere else), you owe it to yourself to dig deeper into his YouTube channel, which is a feast of musical delicacies.

Read More · 20 March 2014 · Comedy

Into the Valley of Death Metal

The sacking of Louvain in August 1914. You would never guess it of Leuven today.

George Takei lived in an internment camp as a child.

Do climate dissenters like climate change?

Zadie Smith: Elegy for a country’s seasons.

George Monbiot: Addicted to comfort (via Then Play Long).

Fear and loathing in Glasvegas.

Adam Curtis on pop, rock and journalism.


Read More · 19 March 2014 · Weblog

An unrelated Popular thread prompted some reflections on my favourite Beck album (although judging by the stream of Morning Phase, it could have a challenger).

Read More · 21 February 2014 · Music

Your disco needs you too: more 1997 UK number ones at Popular.

Read More · 21 February 2014 · Music

Popular enters 1997 in a blur of good-to-great tracks.

Read More · 21 February 2014 · Music

Life and Death

Man still remembers teacher who made him fall in love with writing.

What a grocery store looks like without honeybees.

Peter Freuchen, Arctic explorer. Call that a knife?

The pleasant morning of an evil day.

Majorité opprimée (via Mefi).

Mary Beard on the Miss Triggs question (Mefi).

On authenticity, appropriation and eating (Mefi).

On not going home (Mefi).

Oceanic force and mystery (Mefi).

Rolling Stone’s 500 worst reviews of all time (Mefi). Essential reading for any past subscribers who bought their share of “four-star” turkeys on their say-so.

Film Crit Hulk on THE LEGO MOVIE. Saw it with W. the other day; recommended for any Lego kids and parents.

The Things. For fans of the singular John Carpenter.

20 February 2014 · Weblog

1996 was an unexpectedly strong year for UK number ones, with thirteen votes from me in Popular’s end-of-year poll of songs worth six or more out of ten. Only a few were songs I was actually listening to then and would listen to much today; what I really loved that year were Suede’s Coming Up and Ash’s 1977, still my favourite albums by each band. But one or two became favourites not long afterwards...

Read More · 12 February 2014 · Music

A second instalment of my Popular comments on late 1996, indirectly featuring one of my favourite bands of a few years later, and directly featuring one of my favourite bands of the decade after that.

Read More · 12 February 2014 · Music

February 2014