Sunday, April 05, 2009

Somehow I seem to have neglected to tell the world this year that, between waiting for Eben to arrive and watching all the crappy movies I have been watching so you don't have to, I have also, from time to time, picked up a book - and read it.

So before Eben takes up what time I have left over from making sure the girls aren't feeling left out and usurped by this small squealing thing called their brother here is what I've read over the last quarter. These may well be the last books I read for a while.

To be more accurate, it's Eben's bottom half that is taking up my time. Merriol is in charge of filling him up (there's a bit of biological determinism going on here) and I'm in charge of making sure he gets emptied and cleaned up. I've never changed a boy baby's nappy before and, well, I'm discovering things are different. First off, when you take their nappies off, girls very rarely pee in your face, or even - spectacularly - over the top of their own heads. When little girls pee it just bubbles up like one of those stupid little 'indoor water features' that clutter up garden centres. With boys it's more like a randomly directed, very small, high-powered water pistol. - The fact that very small children, of both sexes, always wait until a perfectly dry nappy is removed from them before peeing all over the place is just one of those things that generations of parents have had to learn to live with. It's a learning curve and in the case of Eben's pee, a parabola.

Lesson one in how to deal with very small penises was given to me in the hospital by one of the midwives who had had three boys of her own. Apparently you hold the thing down with a finger and wrap it up quick before it gets a chance to move.

Lesson two was given to me by our local midwife when I bumped into her in the coffee shop this afternoon; place something absorbent over the thing as soon as you open the nappy up - I like to think I would have eventually worked this one out for myself before I had too many facefulls - apparently in America you can buy little paper cups to drop over your darling baby son's microtackle to prevent this sort of random wettage (I haven't looked but I hope they are called 'Dicksy Cups'.) I'm experimenting with making little origami hats out of tissue paper.

  1. Consider Phlebas - Iain M Banks
  2. Hostage London - Geoffrey Household. I've only read two Geoffrey Household books. This one and his first: Rogue Male. Both contain what seems to me an extraordinary amount of creeping along hedges and sneaking about in open countryside.
  3. Gimlet's Oriental Quest - Capt. WE Johns. Prompted by a thread on Palimpsest, where someone asked, 'Does anyone read Biggles books any more?' I realised I had the next best thing right at my elbow. A 'Gimlet' book by the same author. I read it. It's crap. I can see why they're not read any more. Aside from the expected casual racism: "It was a typically Oriental trick." etc. The story (it's not really a story, more of a chain of events and coincidences that eventually stop) was so thin, and the pace so sluggish that kids these days would see right through it within a few pages.
  4. Lightning World - Trebor Thorpe (aka Lionel Fanthorpe). An early typo-ridden work from the master of crap SF. Fanthorpe hadn't fully yet developed his style of combining maximum verbiage with minimal content but the signs are all here. No discernible characters, a clich├ęd story that only gets going about two chapters from the end and then suddenly stops, and, of course, Fanthorpe's uniquely wonderful air of vagueness.
    When they had all descended Tony did a couple of experimental steps. That was another factor in their favour. The gravity was about two thirds earth normal - maybe not much over fifty per cent. He felt light and strong.
  5. Ten Bad Dates With De Niro - Ed. Richard T Kelly.
  6. Callahan's Crosstime Saloon - Spider Robinson.
  1. Perry Rhodan 10 - 'The Ghosts of Gol' - I read one book this month. ONE! (I console myself with the fact that it is the shortest month of the year, but even so - ONE?!) And what a piece of shit it was too.
  1. Magic Hour - Jack Cardiff the cinematographer responsible for so much that was brilliant about Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes, The African Queen etc. Highly readable cinema autobiography lite which got really interesting when it got into the technical aspects of things, which it didn't do nearly often enough. I could have done with a lot more of how to make a scene look like it's lit by one candle, when in reality there are fifty lights hanging over the actors head and a lot less of Errol Flynn's drink problem.
  2. Riverworld and Other Stories - By Philip Jose Farmer. Prompted by his death (not an obvious marketing move) and the fact that the book was at eye level in my To Be Read pile (I was lying down). I had been wondering for a while why I hadn't read more of his books. I remember now. I don't like them. Even after this short collection of stories I was irritated by his obsession with early morning erections and anal sex. Farmer's first published SF story in 1953 'shocked' the SF world, won him the Hugo Award for "most promising new writer" and is critically recognized as the story that broke the taboo on sex in science fiction. (Slathering BEM perverts drooling over pert nosed, full breasted daughters of venerable professors aside.) Farmer seems to have spent a lot of the rest of his life upping the sexual ante.
  3. King of Cannes - Stphen Walker. Since I seem to spend most of my free waking time watching low-no budget movies it makes sense to spend the rest of my limited, not running around after the kids time reading books about low-no budget film making. This one is a cracker - though to be accurate it's a book about the making of a movie about the making of movies. Very, very funny and I suspect, from what I have seen of the real world of no hope film makers, very accurate. I only spotted three people I have met (very briefly) in real life - one turns out to be a multi-millionaire (there's a lot of money in shit films apparently).
  4. Money from Holme - Michael Innes - thin little crime novel in which the only crime is the forging, by the original artist, of some already existing paintings. Felt like a short story stretched way beyond its length, or an idea in a notebook that never really went anywhere.
  5. The Carpet People - Terry Pratchett. I've been carrying this one round in an inside pocket for weeks now. Finally finished it. Time to find a new, thin, easily losable book for the jacket.
  6. The Bat Tattoo - Russell Hoban. Meh. If I hadn't been stuck on a bus with nothing else to read but the labels on my clothing I doubt if I would have bothered finishing it.

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