Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Alice in Sunderland


A new book from Brian Talbot is always a a treat, something to be pored over, and Alice in Sunderland is a true confection. The book is a history of Britain, the North and particularly Sunderland, seen through the lense of Lewis Carrol and his most famous book. Along the way it considers public art, the public's treatment of war heroes, the conspiratorial nature of literary criticism, the almost supernatural interconnection of lives, parental relationships, propriatory behaviour towards literary icons and the geographical mirroring of Sunderland and Wonderland with a passing mention of Hartlepools claim to fame (monkey or frenchman?). All of this is done in a smorgasbord of styles including la ligne clair, collage, heavy brush work and fumetti style photo comics.

The book is fascinating as a whole, but this is primarily down to the author. The material could have easily been dull and boring in another writers hands. Talbot's style is that of a popular history of the sort that makes best sellers lists and can be bought off the shelf in Tesco's, something that could be a channel 4 series perhaps and as such it may not appeal to the more seriously minded students of literary, social and geographical history. For someone looking for a broad and popular history of Sunderland tied to a literary icon you'd be hard pressed to find better.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

eight weeks

Eight weeks ago I had a hernia op and have been laid up at home, mostly, until this week. Coinciding with that AOL screwed up our connection again and we still aren't back on line. (I'm blogging from work)

Never believe that surgeons are warm, altruistic people who care deeply about their patients. If my recent experience is anything to go by, I've known butchers who take more care of the meat on their table.

I went in for day surgery for an inguinal hernia, very low down in the groin area. On the advice of nurses I pre-shaved myself, I'm a fairly hairy guy and apparently they dry shave youwhen your sedated. When I woke up they'd shaved even more of my abdomen, including a large square patch on my thigh, and beaten my body around so much that my left testicle was swollen to four times it's normal size, the muscle inside my left inner thigh was so battered I could barely stand and I had a six inch bright purple scar from open surgery instead of the tiny keyhole opening I was lead to expect.

Although I weas allowed to drive after the first week I couldn't with any comfort because getting out of the car left me in scrotal agony. The itching from the hair regrowth was maddening and my groin was either extremely painful where their was feeling and horribly numb, like an everlasting dental injection, everywhere else.

On top of that it wasn't until week seven that it occurred to any member of the medical profession to inform me I should be massaging the scar with baby oil to break down the scar tissue that was continuing to cause me great discomfort.

On the other hand I read a hell of a lot of books and many movies. More on that later.