Posted in Reading on Tuesday 30th August 2005 at 11:59pm


After a bewildering day, and with a painful eye infection I set off straight from work on a packed and sweaty train to Bath. The reason - a chance to see the Peter Hall Company performance of 'Waiting for Godot' at the Theatre Royal. Four friends in tow too - with varying expectations and ideas of what they were about to see, which was even more fun - what would they think?

I've wanted to see a performance of Godot for some time, having only previously seen a filmed version. This 50th Anniversary performance seemed an ideal time . I wasn't disappointed. It always seems that the play is treated with reverence and I've heard tales of some terribly serious productions, but the cast managed to find the space to enjoy themselves. They picked up the playful thread which Beckett wound through the work, running with it and engaging the audience. This exhuberance made the truly harrowing parts - particularly in Act II - by contract far more powerful. Jack Lawrence as 'The Boy' reminded me what a strange and sinister presence this character is in the play.

I'm no authority on theatre, but this was an enjoyable production of a favourite play. The audience generally seemed to agree. Polling my cohorts afterwards, most of them enjoyed it too. One or two of us talked at some length about the play trying to decide if it was 'depressing'.

A few pints of Pitchfork at the Old Green Tree convinced me it wasn't.

Movebook Link

Posted in Reading on Monday 22nd August 2005 at 11:01pm


Spent some time chatting to a friend I haven't spoken to for some time tonight. Strangely, during my period of near obession with B S Johnson she had selected a couple of quotes found in a Guardian review of Like a Fiery Elephant for a homemade bookmark. I know I'm probably a predictable bandwagon-jumper in some respects but I found it odd, especially as we usually have such different tastes.

Got chatting about bookish matters, and particularly the possibilities of both of us having small things published soon. Thought how strange it would be to see each other's work in print rather than on a computer screen prefixed by the message "What do you think of this then?".

A big stack of books has once again developed following the Literary London conference - including Ford Madox Ford, Patrick Hamilton, Woolf and Sterne. Where the time will come from between reading items on Management Theory, I have no idea.


Posted in Reading on Sunday 20th February 2005 at 11:13pm


For a very long dull period I have felt almost unable to read at all. This weekend whilst suffering a degree of mental disquiet, I have finally begun to devour literature once again. The text which restored my faith in the printed word was A Clergyman's Daughter - a strange, severe little novel which most Orwellians seem to recommend against reading in favour of one of his more influential titles, but which I've been meaning to pick up since the Literary London conference last summer.

What struck me most about the novel was how similar it was to a Gissing novel of the early period - a series of 'happenings' connected by long passages of psychological examination of faith and doubt, poverty and duty. Themes not dissimilar to those Born In Exile in a strange way.

Perhaps unsuprising then to find this passage in Chapter 4:

She ate her Christmas dinner - a hard-boiled egg, two cheese sandwiches, and a bottle of lemonade - in the woods near Burnham, against a great gnarled beech tree, over a copy of George Gissing's The Odd Women.
That Orwell admired Gissing is not in doubt, and has been explored thoroughly elsewhere. Perhaps what suprised me most is how in this reportedly inferior novel of the 1930s Orwell achieved the very flat, greyness of tone which he so admired in Gissing to remarkable effect. Along the way he manages to debunk the state-sponsored dominance of the crumbling (both in faith and in fabric) Church of England, in a manner that I can only imagine Gissing would have applauded.

A Clergyman's Daughter doesn't have the universal appeal of some of Orwell's other work, but it succeeds almost as a historical work. A snapshot of how we used to worship, and the cold, dull English fear of not having enough to eat.


Posted in Reading on Tuesday 24th August 2004 at 10:01pm


I'm still gradually working my way through a reading list greatly extended at last month's Literary London conference. On the surface, these events could easily make me feel hideously under-educated and poorly read, but what they do in a rather warm, comfortable way is to show me other people's obsessions and interests.

Hence Storm Jameson. Until a month ago, a mystery to me. I'm writing somewhat prematurely - being 50% of the way into a collection of short novels and stories entitled 'A Day Off'. Prolific, politcal and feminist in a raw, egalitarian manner, Jameson writes with passion, energy and pace. The giddy shifts in narrative voice, and the incisive moves between blindness and insight of social interaction which she represents so painstakingly have aged somewhat over the past sixty or so years, but they still strike a chord.

A few successful forays on eBay have yielded further novels which I've pushed onto my stack. Criminally, Jameson appears to be entirely out of print despite mid-eighties Virago reprints of some of her work. I have no idea if I am reading well within her work. Perhaps someone out there can guide me?

Some links to biographical information:
Literary Encyclopaedia
Spartacus (includes picture)


Lost::MikeGTN

I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.

I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.

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