National Park In My Back Yard:

The railway banks that inspired The Railway Children must be saved from developers and turned into a park to protect wildlife, campaigners say.

Locals in Lewisham’s Grove Park area of south east London want to preserve the section of railway that Edith Nesbit’s home overlooked before she wrote beloved 1906 children’s book The Railway Children.

Currently a patchwork of privately-owned areas and council-owned land that is used by the community, campaigners want to turn it into an “urban national park”, providing a haven for nature and for green space for local families.

It’s a bit of a tenuous link isn’t it? Presumably we should also preserve Reading Gaol ‘cuz Oscar wrote a poem about the place. Except, as with the retirement of Tom Lehrer from satire, that’s already being claimed, isn’t it?

To bring you up to date on little Big Sis

Another book out, Three Hundred Bridesmaids.

Well worth it, read on etc.

Were any of your characters inspired by real people?

My characters are, of course, entirely imaginary and most definitely bear absolutely no resemblance to anyone

Err, yes.

I tend not to do that much research. My book Three Hundred Bridesmaids is set in 1976, a year I remember really well,

Well, yes. It’s set at a place which isn’t a million, million, miles from the place she went to school. The year being around when she was there.

An independent school in Dorset has fallen into administration after being hit with “considerable challenges” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

St Mary’s Shaftesbury, a private Roman Catholic day and boarding school for girls aged nine to 18, had been operating at a loss for some time, according to a letter sent out by the board of governors.

But then always draw upon experience to write your fiction, right?

Modern fairy tales

Err, yes:

In Hansel and Greta (note the name change), Winterson gives us children in despair at the destruction of their forest to make way for a railway line. The antagonist is a nasty aunt called GreedyGuts, who says that “the point of life is to eat as much as possible, make as much money as possible, go on holiday as much as possible … buy two new cars every year, a jacuzzi in the garden, and a Luxury Level Executive Home… ” Hansel and Greta, of course, triumph, plant trees, and all is right with the world.

In Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator, meanwhile, the eponymous heroine and the prince decide to be friends, and she opens her own cake shop, above which she houses hungry, frightened children “running away from the wars in other kingdoms”.

How strikingly imaginative.

And now to reveal the actual secret of fairy tales:

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

Sir Pterry’s drop bears

There’s always an allusion to something in the more bizarre of Sir Pterry’s inventions. Perhaps a combination of vagule recalled weirdnesses from real life:

Australia is known for its strange and deadly wildlife, with plenty of attention given to venomous snakes and bird-eating spiders. But it seems one terrifying aspect of outback fauna has been thoroughly ignored: the wombat’s deadly bum.

The rump of the wombat is hard as rock, used for defence, burrowing, bonding, mating and possibly violently crushing the skulls of its enemies against the roof of its burrow. Although the jury is still out on that one.

The marsupials’ bums are made up of four plates fused together and surrounded by cartilage, fat, skin and fur. Alyce Swinbourne, an expert in wombat bottoms from the University of Adelaide, says wombats will use their backside to “plug” up their burrows, stopping predators entering and protecting softer areas of their anatomy.

Wombats don’t live in trees but koalas do. Combine the two and we have our drop bear.

Benenden never really was about education

Rather more about training in the social subleties of the English:

The headmistress at a top boarding school has “unreservedly apologised” for using the word “negro” in an assembly as a wave of protests by black pupils against “white privilege” sweeps across schools at the end of Black History Month.

Samantha Price, 46, headmistress at Benenden, the Kent girls’ boarding school where Princess Anne was a pupil, was explaining to pupils the origins of the month in 1926. At the time it was, according to Wikipedia, called “Negro History Week” in America, she said.

Some of the senior girls protested about her use of the word, fearing that other pupils would think they were also entitled to use a word some find as offensive as the n-word.

So, I suppose the standards are being upheld there then.

And boy are these birds going to get a shock when they read Huck Finn.

Suppose so really

Terry Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna Pratchett has said that the forthcoming television adaptation of the late author’s stories about Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch “shares no DNA with my father’s Watch”, and that she “should know”.

They’ve got Maramma Corlett with short hair playing Sgt Angua. Who is, notably, tall in the books. Ms. Corlett is decidedly scrumptious, which meets the part demand, but she’s also 5 ft tall.

Ho hum.

Got to also say that I hated the David Jason stuff as well.

Err, why?

Culture is, and should always be, at the forefront of societal change, and as writers, editors, agents, journalists, and publishing professionals,

Why should the people who put words in order be the vanguard of revolutionary change?

Why not be standing athwart the path of history shouting stop? Or any other place on the spectrum?


Jackson will write a forward, and the book will also feature hundreds of previously unpublished photos by Ethan Russell and Linda McCartney. Guardian writer John Harris edited the transcripts of the conversations.

Well, that last explains why The G gives it a big write up. But it’s foreword – what a word for a sub to get wrong, eh?

Damning with faint praise

From the PR for another one of these lefty books that tells us we need more state because coronavirus.

“The best thing I’ve read about how we got into this mess, and how we get out.”
Frankie Boyle

You’re using Frankie to do the blurb on a book of economics? Jeez, what did people who actually understand the subject say about it?

This is fun

French serial-killer expert admits serial lies, including murder of imaginary wife
Stéphane Bourgoin, whose books about murderers have sold millions, says he invented much of his experience, including training with FBI


An online investigation has exposed French author Stéphane Bourgoin, whose books about serial killers have sold millions of copies in France, as a serial liar.

Bourgoin is the author of more than 40 books and is widely viewed as a leading expert on murderers, having hosted a number of French television documentaries on the subject.

A profitable career then.

“I am profoundly and sincerely sorry. I am ashamed of what I did, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said.

No news as yet on where he’s going to send all the money illicitly gained…..

Well, yes, sorta, well, maybe

I am a fiction writer, an Ivy League adjunct professor, a mother to two kids. I was meant to write about all the ways there was no longer space for people like me to make a stable living; all the ways this country’s lack of safety net – it’s merciless adherence to late capitalism, the gig economy, the broken healthcare system – were grinding so many of us down. I wrote, both before and after Covid-19, about my lack of health insurance. I might also have written about our lack of dental insurance, the pain I feel and have for years, each time I chew.

Well, yes. Although having a look around:

To be clear, I believe that to be poor and broke are different – and my husband and I are not poor. Poor implies generational precariousness and instability, and though our lives are filled with financial uncertainty, we also have educations, credit cards and people we could call in dire circumstances.

What we are is people who were brought up to believe that wealth is intrinsically connected to one’s inherent worth, only to find, with two kids and in our late 30s, that, if that’s the case, we’re not worth much.

Well, ya know, sorta.

Two kids, stay at home father – who works on his novel at times apparently. Living in New York City, even if it is Brooklyn. Two literary novels to her name, one not even released yet (the average sale of a first novel is 300 copies).

What’s the surprise about poverty here? And, other than the idea that self-proclaimed artists get to live off the rest of us, what is to be done about it?

I’d love to write more non-fiction books. I’ve notes lying around for several of them in fact. My non-fiction books sell perhaps 500 copies a time. Thus something else has to be done to pay the bills. Shrug.

What other solution is there?

The things you learn

Via Guido I’ve just found out that Palme Dutt was a real person – commie party of GB or whatever.

So that’s where half of Dutt- Pauker comes from, what’s the other part?


What’s the difference between social democracy and a social market economy? Aren’t they not broadly identical?

Tim Worstall, former Journalist
Answered just now
Very similar indeed. Which isn’t much use if you’re Anthony Giddens and want to sell everyone your new idea. So, you propose what is social democracy, call it a social market economy and go count your book royalties.

Sure, that’s cynical but not all that far from the truth either.

Helping out David Friedman

You should go here.

If you have any of the required accents then record the quotes and send them in.

Although there is a confusion there about the King James. Surely even Americans know that God is an Englishman?

Books to avoid

Taking on fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, and the joys and perils of being alone, Kern maps the city from new vantage points, laying out an intersectional feminist approach to urban histories and proposes that the city is perhaps also our best hope for shaping a new urban future. It is time to dismantle what we take for granted about cities and to ask how we can build more just, sustainable, and women-friendly cities together.

From the email offers of free books I’ll not bother to get sent to me…..

Sounds good Rod

You might want to flesh out this syllabus into a fuller version:

On Tuesday, in chemistry, my daughter will learn how you can set fire to a photograph of Greta Thunberg using only a small cube of sodium and a bowl of water. The gender studies module will be incorporated — with great brevity — into a maths lesson on binary numbers. In geography she will be asked to challenge the belief inculcated into her seemingly every week that poverty in Africa is solely the consequence of colonialism, with special reference to Ethiopia and Liberia (never colonised) and Singapore and Malaysia (colonised for some 140 years).

This is indeed a grand chance to reverse the programming.