Thursday, 31 January 2013


I barely noticed the ODI series but overall the 3-2 defeat wasn’t a bad result.  Along with a drawn T20 series and the great test series win before Xmas it’s been a good time in India for England.  Joe Root in particular shined in the ODI series.  England move to New Zealand now but the tests don’t start for another month.  If England play as well as the did in India they will steam roller New Zealand, at the moment I can’t see any other result.  Australia now move on to play India which will be very interesting.  Do Australia have good enough spinners to worry India?

I first read Thomas Hardy when I was doing an A level, firstly some of his poetry and also a novel, “Jude the Obscure”.  The latter is the story of a country man aspiring to better himself at university who instead meets disappointment and sinks into alcoholism.  This was a horribly depressing book that almost put me off Hardy for life.  Almost.
I’d run out of books but there on the shelf was an untouched copy of “Far from the madding crowd” that had sat on the shelf for years.  With some trepidation I decided to attempt reading it.  It didn’t take me long to realise this was a very different book to “Jude…”, a book I could enjoy.
Set in rural Wessex it tells the tale of three men vying for the attentions of one woman.  There must be thousands of such books but dare I say Hardy’s must have been amongst the earliest?  This story is told with skill, empathy and it even manages to surprise the reader along the way.
Just as interesting is the historical snapshot of rural England in the 19th century.  The landscape, the rural practices and class system of that time are vividly portrayed.
As the book meanders to its conclusion it threatens to descend into the misery of “Jude…” but on this occasion Hardy doesn’t allow this.  The mood changes and the ending is upbeat.  I really liked “Far from the madding crowd” and I’m not afraid to read some more Hardy some day.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

6th January

In the world of cricket things are pretty much going to script at the moment.  Australia have just completed a 3-0 home win over a woeful Sri Lankan side.  SL have some fantastic batsmen but sadly their bowlers simply aren’t good enough to take 20 wickets outside the sub continent.  Australia didn’t look impressive either, having to rely on recalling the likes of Phil Hughes and Mitchell Johnson who rarely look test class for more than one match in any series.  The gentleman Mike Hussey has just retired and this will leave a massive hole in their batting line up.

Over in South Africa the hosts battered a limp New Zealand side by an innings in under three days.  This was inevitable after the first session of the match when the tourists were bowled out for a pathetic 45.  You have to back a home clean sweep here too but NZ hardly help themselves with a situation which sees their best batsman remaining at home.

Pakistan have just beaten India 2-1 in an ODI series, they actually should have won all three matches but threw the third away today.  England return to India soon for an ODI series which should they win will see them climb to the outright top of the rankings.  Currently we are tied with SA on 121 points.  It’s the same two teams at the top of the test rankings but here SA have a deserved 5 point lead.  Over the next couple of months England will be touring New Zealand and the Aussies head for India, should be interesting times ahead.

“Glue” by Irvine Welsh is set in Edinburgh and charts the lives of four boys growing to adulthood and beyond.  It visits the four in snapshots of the various decades from the 70’s through to the early 2000’s, joining them at character forming and life changing junctions in the lives of one or more.  We are introduced to many new faces in the familiar Edinburgh of Welsh’s creation and we warmly greet many old friends from other favourite novels.  Some of the “Glue” characters return in later novels too.  This book will educate, inform and entertain.  In places you will laugh out loud but in others you will be shocked, it is an Irvine Welsh book after all.  Most of all, this book will move you.  You don’t have to be Scottish, if you’re in your forties and grew up in Britain you will know the world Welsh writes about and you will ‘know’ some of the characters.  Glue was as good on the second read as it was a decade ago, the first time around.

Stuck for something to read I picked an unread copy of “Tom Jones” by Henry Fielding of my shelf.  Apparently it’s a classic so what the hell, I’ll give it a go.  It was first published in 1749 which unfortunately makes it an effort to read and the author’s habit of talking to the reader directly causes more annoyance and adds extra, unnecessary pages.  After getting about 100 pages in I found I didn’t really care about any of the characters involved and I wasn’t enjoying the read.  Normally I stubbornly pursue a book to its end anyway but as I was only about 1/8th my way through the book I made the humane decision to stop.  I felt that to continue would be a total waste of my time.  I can’t remember if I’ve given up on any other books before, I’m sure I have but can’t recall.  This must make Tom Jones a candidate for the worst book I’ve ever read?

I once read “Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky and this was a similar experience to Tom Jones except I managed to finish the novel.  It was a far easier read but the subject was bloody depressing and as a reader I already knew which way things were going to go.  However I did manage to finish the book which disqualifies it from worst book.  On reflection I remember reading some trashy horror novel by Shaun Hutson (I think?).  I finished this book too but it was so bad I binned another book by the same author that I had lined up next.