The Silver Eel

"A gape-jawed serpentine shape of pale metal crested with soot hung high for a sign."

Friday, May 05, 2006


Because you really do learn something new every day. Oh. That Iain McCalman. Also general editor of the Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age. Clearly a total stranger to academic rigour.

In my defence, it's perfectly possible for people who have had a good track record of publication to balls it up suddenly. Clive Ponting, post-Whitehall, post-Belgrano affair, went on to write a number of highly-praised books on history and politics. I confess to having read none of them, apart from his latest, called Gunpowder. Actually I only read about a third of it, because I was beginning to feel embarrassed on Ponting's behalf. Shoddy, repetitive writing; so little information it's like watching the news on TV; and the illustrations can only be described as laughable. I mean it. Go into a bookshop, find a copy and take a look for yourself. Just for God's sake don't buy it. Buy and read Jack Kelly's Gunpowder instead, which despite some rather rough-hewn sentences and occasional loss of focus, is packed with stuff you didn't know and dashes along con brio (sorry about the link to Amazon, but Atlantic Books' website is under construction).


Watched the news on TV tonight. It's clear now from his reshuffle - as if it wasn't after his "God will be my judge" number - that Blair has lost the plot, along with much else. The longer he stays, the more he puts at risk all the good that Labour has done, and their chances of winning the next General Election. Not that this appears to matter to him. Would he rather - as some have been suggesting in the papers - that Cameron won, not Brown? If that happens, it will be very interesting to see what happens to the SNP vote, particularly if Alex Salmond is back as leader in fact and not just name.


"In the corrupted currents of this world
Offence's gilded hand may shove by justice,
And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
Buys out the law."

Hamlet, III.3

Those who know require no explanation; to those who know not, my mouth remains - even now - closed.