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"A Scottish Wind in the Willows on high end skunk."

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Friday, 4 July 2014

Now Reading my charity shop buys....Michael Palin's 'Diaries', Ted Hughes' 'Letters' & Neil Munro's 'Erchie' (not)

Oh well,  I suppose I'd better write something.

I got three excellent books from the local Cancer Research recently.  Books are the ONLY bargains to be found in charity shops these days.  At least, that's the case in the town where I live.  Their bric a brac is vastly overpriced, considering they get it all for freaking nothing.  I can only think that they are obsessed with not letting anyone nab a bargain to sell on Ebay or wherever.  And their clothes are way too expensive considering their condition.  Bobbly, baggy, and smelling of someone else's acrid perfume (or worse).  Possibly with a grotty old paper hankie still stuffed up a threadbare sleeve.
But they (yes - 'they', because rather sadly I now view charity shop staff as 'the other' - and a very grasping 'other' at that, to be approached with extreme caution, like next door's bipolar Alsatian) have no choice but to sell books cheaply because of the 1p sellers online - hooray!  Suits me fine.
For three pounds I bought a pristine hard-backed copy of Ted Hughes' 'Letters', an equally good Michael Palin 'Diaries 1969-79', and a paperback edition of Neil Munro's 'Erchie, My Droll Friend'. In years past I'd have gone to my local library for new reading material and it would have cost me nothing, of course.  But now, the library stock consists of rubbish, the staff appear uninterested in enabling people to actually read and search for books, and due to council policy it has become a noisy 'community hub' for various groups rather than a quiet haven for book-lovers and seekers of knowledge.  I've had to resort to getting books as cheaply as I can via Amazon, Ebay and the charity shops, and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Ted Hughes' 'Letters' is a bit turgid, I have to say.  I only bought the book because it was cheap. Original price on the dust-jacket is thirty quid.  Thirty quid!!  No Way Ho-zay, they're avvin a larf.  I've never been a fan of his poetry and his letters are, for me,  mind-grindingly dull and verging on grim.  Being a top-notch poet sounds unspeakably ghastly.  Luckily,  that's not something that will ever trouble me.  Or indeed many of us 'normal' folk down here in the mud.  However, there are points of interest regarding his personal life, I suppose.
Michael Palin's Diaries are also on the dull side, if I'm honest.  They don't compare with Graham Chapman's A Liar's Autobiography, which I loved.  I really like Michael Palin but he's probably just too much of a nice, decent bloke to write a properly riveting Diary with plenty of gossip and juicy bits.  However,  I'm quite enjoying the part I'm reading at the moment, which covers the period during which they were writing The Life of Brian.  I know the film well and it's interesting to read how they put it together, who wrote what and so forth.  The whole diary actually reminds me a bit of Phil Cornwell and John Sessions' Stella Street, due to the number of celebrities Palin seems to bump into in his local shop, park, pub, etc..  For example,  Harold Pinter in a restaurant,  Elton John crossing the road (Terry Jones nearly runs him over), all three 'Goodies' (frequently, all over the place) and, oh, I forget who else. Lots of people, anyway.  I suppose he does live in 'leafy' Hampstead, which is peppered liberally with 'media types'.  Or so I imagine.
My third buy, the Neil Munro tome, is unbelievably obscure and written in a convoluted, bizarre, almost arcanely so, version of 'Scottish' (not 'Scots', which would have been perfectly fine).  It's a compilation of 'droll' columns written for the Glasgow Herald in nineteen oatcake about affairs of the day and I cannot believe that anyone ever read, never mind enjoyed, them.
I'm horribly fascinated by their period awfulness and so I'll write another blog post about them once I've read around them a bit more.  It'll likely be Very Short.

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