TO Dundee where librarians are conferring.
Fond mention was made of Ray Bradbury, who has died at the grand old age of 91. He is best known, of course, as a sci-fi writer, whatever that means. I think of him – as I do all writers – simply as a writer, distinguishing only between those who are good and those who should never be in print.
Mr Bradbury fitted firmly into the former camp. What's not to like about him? His first short story was published in 1938 and thereafter he wrote one a week, which amounts to around 3700 stories. He also wrote novels, not the least of which is Fahrenheit 451, and essays, lots of them. When he was not writing he was thinking about writing. He was admired by just about everybody who mattered, including Christopher Isherwood, Aldous Huxley, John Huston, Matthew Weiner, who writes Mad Men, Bo Derek and me.
Because he wrote about the future it is often assumed that Mr Bradbury must have been desperate to live there. It was also often assumed that he must be in love with "new technology" (loathsome phrase) when he was actually highly sceptical of it. For example, he was no great lover of the internet and much preferred real books to e-books, which anyone with half a brain does. "Yahoo," he once said, "called me eight weeks ago. They wanted to put a book of mine on Yahoo! You know what I told them? 'To hell with you. To hell with you and to hell with the internet'." I feel pretty much the same way.
By the by, I have a hard-cover copy of The Stories Of Ray Bradbury, published by Everyman's Library. It runs to more than 1000 creamy pages, is set on acid-free paper with type first cut in 1495, and smells like a thermidor. It cost £14.99 and can be read anywhere, any time by anyone with sight. Stick that up your Kindle.
No drunks on the train from Dundee. That this is worth remarking is in itself quite remarkable.
THREE cheers for Alan Cumming, an actor. Mr Cumming, who I have been watching with increasing admiration in the first series of The Good Wife, which originally ran when rickets was all the rage, has dared to say what so many others have been unable, or disinclined to: that Creative Teuchter is useless.
Apropos its idiotic decision to insist that in future, arts organisations will have to apply for one-off projects rather than be given – or not! – funding that allows them to plan ahead, Mr Cumming said: "These are artists, not business models, but some people feel they are being treated like that ... People are worried about biting the hand that feeds them."
There, in a nutshell, is everything that's amiss in Teuchterland. As every creative teuchter knows, Creative Teuchter, whose apparatchiks are about as creative as an accountant, is the only show in town. If it takes agin you you're scuppered. What's needed is a revolution. Or a culture meenister who is less arm's-length and more hand's-on.
THERE is a football tournament underway in Ukraine and Poland. The other day the latter played Russia. The match ended in a draw and mayhem, which was to be expected given the two countries' history of enmity, and which rather contradicts the view of those who insist that the beautiful game is a unifying force, like Ban Ki-moon.
As readers of this throbbing organ are no doubt aware, I myself do everything in my power to bring about world peace and harmony. To which end I offered our Polish neighbours a copy in Russian of the Home Secretary's global bestseller, Scotland: An Autobiography. Alas, this wholly altruistic gesture was not received entirely in the spirit that one had hoped. In fact, it was not received at all. How was I to know Poles don't speak Russian!
If, however, there is anyone out there interested in becoming the proud owner of the Russian edition of this peerless work, you know who to contact.
MY dear Aberdonian friend Michael Gove, Meenister for Education beyond Berwick, has a hard row to hoe in his efforts to make our English amigos literate. His proposal that weans be taught good books, such as the poetry of Pope and the novels of Jane Austen, has gone down like the Costa Concordia. Similarly, his plan to encourage the wee monsters to write grammatically and spell correctly has had what can only be described as a Bombay mix of a reception.
Resolutely determined that their charges should remain ignorant, teachers have accused Mr Gove of being elitist, impractical and living in cloud-cuckoo land, which is a lethal combination.
I do hope my dear friend will resist such opposition with every active verb and pungent adjective at his disposal. He might like to start by pointing out the difference between "number" and "amount", and "less" and "fewer", and threatening with conscription anyone who follows "none" with a plural. Teachers, of course, are the most persistent offenders, which is probably why they are so against The Govester's reforms.
JINGS! Crivvens! I refer, somewhat salaciously, to Glasgow Cathedral, which is beset by a "sex" scandal. Apparently, its choirmaster, Iain Simcock (stop sniggering in the back row!), had an assignation in its auld kirkyard with his girlfriend which has led to his dismissal. Mr Simcock insists that nothing more than a kiss and cuddle took place, but nothing quite gets the Kirk's juices flowing like sex, whether indoors or en plein air, and the panjandrums in Embra are said to be leaping about in gay abandon as they pore over the details.
There will be the usual inquiry but the days of making an example of sinners while the rest of the congregation tut-tuts and sooks Pan Drops, which is difficult to do simultaneously, are long gone.
I note, though, that the Kirk is not the only organisation getting hot under the dog collar over the kirkyard kissing and cuddling. Because Mr Simcock's Jean Armour is employed by Historic Teuchter, which owns the Cathedral, it too is sticking its prurient oar in, having nothing better to do with its time.
QUOTE of the millennium from Phil the Greek, 91, who, on being released from hospital, was asked if he was feeling better, said: "Well, I wouldn't be coming out if I wasn't."
E-readers? Ray Bradbury would have used them to start a fire
Michael Gove could teach the English a few things about - English
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