Whilst helping students get sorted for their studies, I had the good fortune to stumble upon a great resource called UK RED, that will interest anybody who has a curiosity in reading, it’s history and the myriad contexts that make up the rich fabric of our cultural experience.
From the about page:
UK RED is an open-access database housed at The Open University containing over 30,000 easily searchable records documenting the history of reading in Britain from 1450 to 1945. Evidence of reading presented in UK RED is drawn from published and unpublished sources as diverse as diaries, commonplace books, memoirs, sociological surveys, and criminal court and prison records.
UK Red captures the literary experience as told by everyday readers. The search options are comprehensive, covering century, socio-economic group, whether the source is from a reader, listener, or reading group. It even goes so far as to check through translations, publishers, etc. The choices allow the reader to go deep into history for study, or just for curiosity. The room for context of a particular book to a specific group of people at a specific time (and also the changing opinions of society over time) can be fascinating.
The sheer amount of dull football autobiographies on the market is staggering, and most are beyond bland and utterly predictable. Nelson’s effort is different as he never attained the millions or star status, and the book is much the better for that.
A journeyman professional, Nelson played for lower league teams throughout his career but is appreciative of his position in sport, and the wider context of life. He’s aware that he is living a dream many never come close to achieving.
Told in a diary format over a whole year (the 94/95 season), the author finds himself in a precarious position, at the tail end of his career. He isn’t expected to be a first team start, his contract runs out at the end of the year, injuries are a worry, and younger players are challenging for his position.
The fans applauding the neat one-two, the snap shot going close from twenty-odd yards, don’t stop to consider the man who on a bad night, thinking his first-class career is almost at its end, lies awake at night worrying about his mortgage.
As carpools are set up to get to training and to save the player’s petrol costs , the weighing up of the risks of declaring themselves fit too early after an injury is an all too real and worrying problem, and the wider problems of the sport are discussed, this is a fascinating look back at a sport which has changed so much off the pitch whilst remaining relatively unchanged on it. Continue reading “Left Foot Forward – Garry Nelson”
last Sunday was Crissy’s birthday, and after e had lunch with my parents we hooked up with some good friends and ended up wandering around Southwell and having a look around the cathedral. Disconcertingly, everyone noticed the books for sale at the back end of the building before I did.
Unsurprisingly the books on offer all had a religious theme and most were of little interest to me, but I did manage to find a few books that tickled my fancy. The technical side, so to speak, of faith really interests me, the arguments for and against, and three of those books fit the bill.
The fourth book has a wonderful title Modern Art and the Death of Culture, and of course its all doom and gloom hating on modern art whilst talking about the Christian way being the way forward as a potential to reverse the trend. I think the premise is interesting and it sits forlornly on my work desk begging to be read as I go about my daytime work. Continue reading “Wholly Consistent Haul”
With five weeks of training completed at the Open University – the main reason for my sparse posting of late – I can finally turn my attention to showcasing all the awesome free stuff that you can get your hands on courtesy of the O.U.. This week it’s something mentioned previously on this blog and frequently engages me through on my breaks and before work starts.
OpenLearn is a resource I had spent a bit of time with before I started this job and now I recommend it to everyone. The site offers courses, downloads, videos, and up coming programmes with the BBC. Each course is an extract from our degree modules, and with almost 1000 samples here you can indulge in many various learning exercises.
There are courses for everyone over such varied fields as Languages, Nature & Environment , Money & Business, and my personal favourite History & the Arts, which has plenty of literary goodness but never fails to entertain with a speculative punt either.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free Where the world has not been broken up into fragments By narrow domestic walls Where words come out from the depth of truth Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit Where the mind is led forward by thee Into ever-widening thought and action Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
I had a whole mini essay on why I like this poem, sadly it got lost and way too much time and effort went into it the first time for me to wish to write it again. I’m sure you’ll be thinking along the same lines as myself being the esteemed and intelligent readers that you are.
A lost little girl with her detective notebook and toy monkey appears on the CCTV screens of the Green Oaks shopping centre, evoking memories of Kate Meaney, missing for twenty years. Kurt, a security guard with a sleep disorder, and Lisa, a disenchanted deputy manager at Your Music, follow glimpses of the girl through the centre’s endless corridors – a welcome change from dealing with awkward customers, colleagues and the Green Oaks mystery shopper. But as this after-hours friendship grows in intensity, it brings new loss and new longing to light.
The first time I read this book I did so in a twelve-hour single sitting, the writing style and the with the all too familiar take on retail, which I spent years in, were both compelling and moving. What Was Lost is a gritty and melancholy read with touches of humour that really hit the spot for those looking for a bit of mystery set in an all too familiar locale.
The story itself switches between two different threads, those of Kate Meaney (private investigator), and Kurt and Lisa, set twenty years later. The story’s strengths lies in the wonderfully well-written characters and the differences in attitude, both in terms of the time periods and the characters within them.
The Green Oaks shopping centre is a character in itself, much like the island in the TV show Lost, it pulls people into it and changes lives. It’s a monument to the staggering waste of time, heart and effort spent in these places for both workers and shoppers. Continue reading “What Was Lost – Catherine O’ Flynn”