I’ve been working offline a lot this week and trying to concentrate on getting a couple of projects underway, but here are a few things that have come over the parapet:
Caroline Smailes is going to be signing her new novel Black Boxes at Waterstones in Chester on Saturday March 7th between 11am and 1pm. Caroline is a terrific writer and her books are well worth getting hold of even if you can’t make it to Chester.
Lots of us are trying to find ways to make our favourite online reading available in other forms and the Tabbloid service from HP aims to help by converting RSS feeds into a pdf. You can add as many feeds as you like (at least I can’t see a restriction) and a nicely formatted pdf ‘magazine’ is emailed to you at intervals you specify. There’s no sign-up and the service is free, but you do need to give your email address, for obvious reasons.
There are developments over at the Shedworking blog, where you can now buy t-shirts, mugs and whathaveyou with designs by Felix Bennett.
And finally, Liberty Hall Writers is advising that we should kill our wordprocessors. True.
Last year was a terrible one for British brewing and especially for pubs, hundreds of which closed down in the face of declining beer sales. The campaign to save the British pub is gathering pace and here are a few links, from trade, mainstream press, and blogs:
The Morning Advertiser reports that Paul Weller, Suggs, and Gruff Rhys have joined Paul Moody and Robin Turner in their campaign to save the great British boozer. I spoke with Paul on Liverpool’s City Talk radio station before Christmas and he talked a lot of sense. He and Robin Turner have published a book The Rough Pub Guide: A Celebration of the Great British Boozer and they also have a lively campaign blog.
On Wednesday in The Guardian Johnathan Glancey celebrated the glorious architecture of Victorian breweries and lamented their closure. The piece is rather London-centric (and there’s no mention of Robert Cain’s cathedral of ale):
Will anyone really regret the closure of the Stag Brewery in Mortlake, a Thamesside suburb between Barnes and Richmond, next year? Those who work there will, of course, but not, I think it’s fair to say, the vast majority of British ale fans. Although beer has been brewed on this site since the 15th century – pretty much since brewing with hops began in England – in recent years the Stag has been churning out Budweiser, Bud Ice and Michelob for InBev, a Belgian-based multinational. [Link]
Meanwhile the Southport Drinker reports that Lancashire County Council has vowed to make sure that pints remain pints and that drinkers are delivered of the full measure at the bar.
I’ve been doing some editing and consultancy work and generally getting things back under control over the last two weeks. But I’ve also been getting back into the writing routine. On Friday I had a piece on the Guardian Books blog about James Agee and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, his account of life among the sharecroppers in 1930s Alabama. And I have some exciting things coming up. It won’t be long before the publicity work for Cain’s: The Story of Liverpool in a Pint begins to kick in, but in the mean time the Key Ideas book needs finishing off, I’m going to be working on articles for 100 American Crime Writers, and teaching a couple of hours a week.
I’m excited about what we have planned over on The Reader Online, which is gathering momentum nicely. This week we have another featured poetry anthology from Bloodaxe, entitled Earth Shattering. These poems are a great way to start the day.
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Yesterday I came across an excellent site dedicated to shedworking. As a shedworker of almost four years’ standing now I came over all warm and fuzzy about my own shed, which I built in the summer of 2003, and thought I would post a gratuitous picture of my workplace. I am a very lucky man, I realise.