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

"I enjoy Kate's stories..."
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"The characters are so involving and
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I quickly got into the story and loved every second of reading it...
total gem of a read by an author who deserves a lot more recognition."


Monday, 29 September 2014

Now Reading - A Blaze of Autumn Sunshine by Tony Benn

I'm quite enjoying this book, which I borrowed from the local library.  It's infuriatingly unusual these days, for me to find a book that I actually want to read, in the library.  The library is no longer a place whose purpose is to encourage 'book learning'.  It is multi-functional.  It is noisy.  It hosts playgroups and old peoples groups and job clubs and computers.  And worst of all - it has a really terrible and rapidly-depleting selection of books.  As I've said before.
I'd like to read Benn's earlier Diaries.  He had so much irreplaceable knowledge and experience of our country's politics and the ways of government.  This final one is quite unavoidably depressing, because his health is clearly deteriorating, he's dealing admirably and bravely and realistically with a host of problems relating to his age, and he feels (understandably, at 82) that he's 'on his way out'.
I'm 54 and I often feel that I'm 'on my way out', as well.  But that's another matter. (or is it??) Growing old is no fun, but it's better than the alternative, as someone once said.
Anyway, it's a very interesting read.  I enjoy following politics, though I'm not a member of any particular party.  It begins in 2007 around the start of Gordon Brown's stint as PM and the financial meltdown.  Benn witnesses the demise of the Labour Party as he knew it, and the concurrent rise of the global economy.  He expects UKIP to thrive in such an environment, as indeed they do.  Nationalism, he says, is not the way forward - democracy is. He describes Brown as a 'managing director' of Britain - a Britain devoid of Trade Union power - but he writes more positively about him than Blair, saying that when he sees Blair and that 'awful smile', his 'blood runs cold'.   All in all, he's very depressed by the state of politics and who can blame him?  Just about everything ghastly he expected to happen, has.
I'm only on page 95 by the way.  However - I just, in the middle of writing this - skipped to the last chapter, 'Life after Diaries', in which he describes, with far more grace than I can envisage mustering in such circumstances, moving out of the family home and into a flat where he receives round the clock care.  Still little nuggets of information relevant to today's politics shine out - for example, he was Energy Minister in 1975 when North Sea oil was discovered, and he set up a system whereby 25% of the oil belonged to the Treasury rather than the oil companies.  This, had it been retained, would have ensured an 'oil fund' which could have been used in times of austerity - however, Thatcher sold it off.
Not the greedy and evil 'Westminster' we heard so much about during the referendum.  Thatcher.
Yes, that's the Thatcher upon whose back, by and large, because the Scottish electorate disliked her so, and they defined themselves against her, the SNP clambered to power.  After helping her INTO power, in the first place, of course.   That's the SNP whose membership has just overtaken that of the entire Libdems, and who are bankrolled by the unspeakable Brian Souter and two people spending their lottery winnings.
In my day the SNP were a joke. They had no policies, no underpinning philosophy except nationalism.  I don't think they've changed except they have much more power and influence, unfortunately.  People are off their heads and I only hope they gain some insight soon.
I'll say no more about politics.  Unless further referendum-style ghastliness ensues which seems likely to affect the warp and weft of my daily life.

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