Friday, 29 March 2013

Books and Records and Ali G

Well I've jusst finished the excellent Tony Benn biography by Jad Adams , discovering lots of things about someone who must be close on the most respected politician ever. The book is surprising readable obviously helped by it's subject mater or an caring idealist , a stunning orator who had the intelligence outspeak opponents without ever getting flustered. His encounter with Ali G / Sacha Baron Cohen  showed him taking matters seriously rather than pandering to sreotypes resulting in Sacha Baron Cohen writing to Benn thanking him for being the only person to react with skill and integrity to Ali G's inane stereotypical questioning.

Anyway this means I've started "A Little History Of The |World" by Ernst Gombrich which is the book I've chosen to distribute on World Book Night on Tuesday April 23rd 2013 on my train back from work between Darlington and Newcastle. The preface tells of the genesis of the book which is entertaining in itself , I was going to tell you about it but the copy on the Amazon page does that very well , so I'll include that here:

"In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world. Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savoured and collected. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind's experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity's achievements and an acute witness to its frailties. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history."

I've said it previous posts why I chose the book and have started reading it , and finding it well written , in terms a child could understand, really a book that should be in every household especially if there are young children. It is the sorting of book theat stimulates interest and inquisitiveness and will inevetibly have them asking "Why?" in a good way.

Three days before that it's National Record Shop Day which will mean long queues out of RPM , Reflex and Beatdown in Newcastle and bands playing and street entertainment and chasing limited editions onf vinyl artefacts worldwide.Every year it's getting bigger and better , and as for the demise of record shops , don't believe a word of it , the best ones are still with us . I was recently surprised to find excellent record shops in York and Bakewell , and as long as a shop is welcoming and able to adapt they will attract customers. Often people complain about the cost of music and I point outthis fact:

In 1975 Pink Floyd released Wish You Were Here in an unfeasible shrink wrapped plastic bag, containing postcards etc (maybe that was Dark Side of The Moon which did contain posters and stickers). Anyway I'd just left school and was geeting job seekers allowance which was £3.25 .... the same price of the new Pink Floyd album. Needless to say I didnt go out that week.

So if albums had kept pace with Job Seekers Allowance the cost of an album would now be around £60 !! I recently took deliver of The Blue Oyser Cult's Columbia Album box set (17 discs) which cost me £46 and that was funded by a MyVoice voucher and Hilton Honors voucher so I didnt rwally even pay for it. So music today is better value than ever.