It's that time of year again when my annual (unpaid, but it's all in a good cause) commission comes around, hence the title of this post. Which I've promptly undermined by forsaking my usual first choice for creative plundering, the aforementioned bowler hatted Belgian, in favour of ripping off Giorgio de Chirico for this one. I can't think of any Magritte inspired songs at the moment (although there must be plenty) but Giorgio was the seed for this one from 10,000 Maniacs as well as Poor de Chirico, enjoy both in all their Natalie Merchant-ised glory.
By now you might have detected that I have failed to mention the fact that I haven't posted a new blog entry in nearly five months and are doubtless wondering when I'm going to get round to explaining myself. Could it be that I've been hard at work on a hitherto secret project that only now can be revealed, was I perhaps abducted by aliens, am I just too posh to blog these days? The short and I'm afraid not so sweet, answer is none of the above. What happened was basically Winter. Remember all that rain, railway line out at Dawlish, Somerset levels under water, West Country apparently cut off from (supposed) civilisation? That's a fair description of the way I was feeling for the past six or seven months (and periodically still do). There's very little I can do under such circumstances other than try and maintain a level of at least moderate normality by battening down the mental hatches and retreating to somewhere which, while not a pleasant spot to be in, doesn't actively make things worse. So lots of comfort reading, little actual contact with the outside world and don't cross any bridges lest they start metaphorically collapsing beneath you.
On the upside that comfort reading meant re-visiting almost every Terry Pratchett book I possess (and I've got quite a few) and the chance to pick up a few from the 'things I've been meaning to get round to' pile, best of these was probably Tracey Thorn's Bedsit Disco Queen whilst getting a big thumbs down and an 'at least it was dirt cheap in ebook format' was G.K. Chesterton and The Complete Father Brown Mysteries Collection. If like me you watched the recent BBC series starring Mark Williams, remember the seventies version with Kenneth More or are even more old school and think of Alec Guinness then, whatever the shortcomings of those productions, let me assure you that on paper (or kindle screen) the good father is an altogether drearier, less entertaining and much less enjoyable proposition (and that's before you take into account Chesterton's smug amateur theology and outright racism).
Finally, something I never thought I would ever say but here goes, 'I agree with The Daily Mail'. Which I hasten to qualify by saying that I only agree with them on this. Which is their review of Gerard Woodward's latest novel 'Vanishing'. I've mentioned Gerard's work before, and the fact that we were at Art School together for a time but personal preference aside 'Vanishing' is a superb book and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the Mann Booker longlist this year from whence, by rights, it ought to make it straight onto the shortlist. Gerard was shortlisted before in 2004 for 'I'll Go Bed At Noon' and I'd like to see him win this year, if only because I put a tenner on him last time and I'd like a chance to get it back (with interest) this year.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.