Saturday, 22 October 2016


The internet is infested with anthropomorphism, I'm getting really pissed off with it. Just because I love animals and am passionate about protecting the environment, it doesn't mean I want to see every cute animal video on the internet, with even 'cuter' human commentary; and I really don't believe that mother love is unsurpassed because there's a video of a sea otter carrying her cub on her belly, however charming I and other humans may find the image. 

Animals and the environment they inhabit are more important than all this. They are part of a working ecosystem which we humans (who are also animals) live in too. If we don't start to take it far more seriously than going sentimental about a snoring pug dog or saying 'Ooooh!' over a wheelbarrow full of baby orang-utans, then as a species we are in serious trouble. The orang-utans are in the barrow because they are all orphans - their mothers, who were less 'cute', have been killed by people who took the babies to sell as pets. People who see an image of an animal and say, 'I want one', are partly responsible for this.

Many more orang-utans are killed when their rain-forest habitat is destroyed to grow palms for palm oil, which is another conversation and the opposite of anthropomorphism, when people decide that orang-utans are less important than having cheaper cakes and cheaper face cream because palm oil is so CHEAP. 

And I really don't like images of dogs and cats dressed as people, it's not cute. What's wrong with them being animals? Animals are often beautiful - they are not cute, it's a demeaning word. Am I a curmudgeon? Yes. Am I an endangered species? I doubt it. Unlike the oran-utans.

South by Java Head - a novel by Alistair MacLean

Book Review

I don’t really understand why the novels by Ian Fleming are still popular while those of Alistair MacLean, a contemporary of his and also a writer of adventure/espionage fiction, seems to be quite forgotten. I read both authors in my teens and then l found MacLean’s writing much more engaging, I re-read his books many times. Alistair MacLean’s heroes were flawed, gritty and didn’t give a damn if their collar was ironed or not, while Fleming’s obsession with smart dressing and martinis, shaken not stirred, seemed effete and unrealistic to this teenager, I wasn’t tempted to read any of his novels more than once.

The films are another matter, using the Hollywood effect, glamourised Bond films have had huge amounts of money thrown at them and are often very watchable, while the filmed versions of MacLean’s books which I have seen – Guns of Navarone, Force 10 From Navarone, Where Eagles Dare and Ice Station Zebra – are more standard movie ‘thrillers’ and don’t live up to the thrill I have felt reading his novels.

South by Java Head has not, as far as I know, ever been filmed. Written in 1958, this was the second or third MacLean novel I read, I’ve just re-read it. This is a war story with touches of espionage, the author’s first two novels, HMS Ulysses and The Guns of Navarone were also war stories. South by Java Head tells the story of an unlikely group of people escaping from Singapore during the final stages of the city’s capture by Japanese forces in 1942. The opening scenes are highly descriptive and also dramatic and realistic, they’re immediately engrossing and introduce most of the important characters. There are quite a lot of these and the author names 23. He rapidly informs us that they will not all survive and, throughout the story, depletes their numbers with shocking suddenness and violence that wouldn’t always be out of place in Game of Thrones.

This was a book which, even though re-reading long after I had forgotten my first impression, I still found it immensely readable and well enough written to not interfere with the strong narrative flow.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Haiku in October

My old tree’s last harvest,
what to do with ten
thousand purple damsons.


written on National poetry day, then my computer wouldn't let me post! So finally here it is...

Thursday, 6 October 2016

For National Poetry Day 2016

Take the road to Omalos
And you may find a wild herb valley
Whose terraced paths run with orange trees
Down to a still lake where peacocks call
And the air is ablaze with the hum of bees.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Why do we have to live with Men - novel by Bernadette Strachan - review

The cover is just a generic 'chick lit'
design, it doesn't do the book justice.
I've read this book three times now, so I must quite like it. The title is appealing for a start. The trouble is, I read it, put it down somewhere and pick it up again a couple of years later and really can't remember much of the content. It's an entertaining read, with engaging characters, largely set in a feminist commune. 

It begins with Cat O'Connor who wants to dump her pointless relationship with a senior work colleague. She drops out of the rat race, with her three best friends Mary, Jozette and Germaine. They're joined by a few others including Beulah the mysterious cook and Sarge who is.., well Sarge. They all drop into a six month experiment in rural living - with chickens, a pig and NO men. Although the pig is called Dave...

As novels set in communes go, it's remarkably un-dysfunctional and maybe a little too romantic for my taste, a bit more grit might help and the ending isn't overly feminist. Ultimately a bit disappointing, but the journey is fun and carries you along. I probably will read it again when I need a bit of relaxing amusement. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Haiku in September

Raucous grey gulls cry

into soft, moist skies

where the summer sun has fled.

Juvenile herring gull, Hastings.

Saturday, 27 August 2016