Left Foot Forward – Garry Nelson

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”

Advertisements

What Was Lost – Catherine O’ Flynn

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”

All the Drama

It’s been a while since I last wrote, in the meantime my head has been filled with new systems, many acronyms, and more knowledge than I actually need to know but which hovers at the periphery of my vision, a teetering tower of figures and facts poised precariously waiting for my brain to freeze up.

This is pleasantly offset by the relaxing atmosphere and access to the internet when I manage to get in early.  This is, naturally, complicated by the fact that I have been firing off emails to all manner of accounts with blog post drafts and am now confused with where all the different parts are.

To sum up, normal service will be resumed soon. In other news, I had my hair cut so now I don’t resemble a homeless Belgian man, and have recently discovered the delights of Korean drama, of which soon there will be a review, once I finish it.  Visiting your blogs will happen soon as well, the usual assurances apply.

To Start the Day

Having found my bearings (just about, as the wealth of information is so detailed and sprawling) in the new job, I was delighted to find that the old haunts of which I used to frequent (pubs, supermarkets, the local chippy comically named The cod’s Scallops) – handily near the Open University campus – have been supplemented with a new cafe, so having arrived stupidly early for one my shifts, I can sit back with a book, a coffee and a generous bacon cob and watch the world go by.

I always like to see a place wake up, the bleary eyed people (not me, I’m already on my second coffee), the workers, school children, the build-up of traffic and general early morning chaos.  From my vantage point looking out onto the main road I can take it all in and feel slightly smug that I beat the rush, even if rolling out of bed early is a challenge for the moment.

As you have probably noticed I haven’t been visiting your blogs much of late and now due to my workload, I will probably only be able to visit once a week but will endeavour to be around more. I am also writing blog posts on my breaks at work so I can keep some form of regular posting going. Continue reading “To Start the Day”

O No U Didn’t!

Oh yes I did!  I’ve only gone and added another job to my tally, and this , my third and final form of employment, is at the open university.

Celebrating its fiftieth year, the OU is all about getting people the education (and degrees) they wish for.  A lot of focus goes on the part-time learners who are also earners, courses are all online and reach outside the UK to a further 157 countries.

You can find out all about the ‘deets’ elsewhere online, and if you ring up about anything, you may just be speaking to me as I will be the guy that sets you up on the course you need, offering up the best options and generally knowing stuff.  In the meantime if you fancy taking a gander at the free courses on offer and seeing what its all about, head here and learn stuff gratis.

It’s always great to find a job that involves something you enjoy, and with this one I will be offering services of which will benefit everyone.  Education is the key to a lot of the world’s problems so it is a fine state of affairs to help people better themselves and go home having done something worthwhile, which is a rare position to be in.

Tales from the Inner City – Shaun Tan

Tales from the Inner City is a powerful reflection on the nature of existence and the urban relationship we have with the animals within our human world.  From the dog to the crocodile; from the tiger to the frog, world renowned artist Shaun Tan explores the perennial love and destruction we feel and inflict on our fellow creatures.

Shaun Tan always creates enjoyable and thought-provoking work, and in Tales from the Inner City he explores nature, our co-existence – or not – with animals and how our way of life effects the natural environment around us.

This heavy, lavish hardback tome of 225 glossy pages, is full of atmospheric illustrations, each set over two pages which accompany the numerous short stories, and sharply contrast the differences in two opposing worlds and have an air of the dreamlike about them.

The stories themselves are a mixed bag in terms of their messages, some are obvious, but due to the trademark whimsy and surreal of Tan’s style, others fail as the point being made is sometimes too veiled.  Despite this, I find all them enjoyable and full of depth. Continue reading “Tales from the Inner City – Shaun Tan”