Thursday, 6 March 2014

World Book Day - My Books

To celebrate "World Book Day", here is a photograph of some books from my collection.

Most of the titles depicted fall into the category of weird / supernatural / horror fiction from the 1850-1940 period. Authors include M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood, Arthur Machen, Marjorie Bowen, Barry Pain, Bram Stoker, J. S. Le Fanu and Walter de la Mare.

I have been collecting books seriously for about twenty years. My interest in seeking out original copies was first sparked by the owners of the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley [John & Julia Townsend if memory serves me correctly]. I would often haunt the bookshop during the school holidays when I was growing up, spending most of my paper-round money on paperback copies of books by Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and Saki.

Ah, those halycon days, where are they now? To be young and able to read all day by the school lake was very heaven.

When I returned in my early twenties, the Townsends steered me towards a fine presentation copy of M.R. James' "The Five Jars" [Edward Arnold, 1922], reassuring me that the £28.00 outlay would hold its value compared to a cheaper, later edition. It certainly was, because the book turned out to be the copy that James gave to his literary peer, E.F. Benson.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


In this badly staged photo, the poet asks 
challenging, ironic questions.

I shouldn't eat bacon, fried eggs, clotted cream or ready salted crisps
I shouldn't smoke fags, drink beer, or kiss sugar-coated cherry lips
I shouldn't use plastic bags from Tescos, cos they clog up the drains
I shouldn't be buried in a coffin, I should let birds peck at my remains

I should exercise, moderately, four times a week
I should drink tap water, with flouride, and swill it round my cheek
I should trust the banks, shop ethically, and work before I rest
I should give adequate notice of my intention to protest

I am unhappy, statistic, ballistic with shame
Isolated in spreadsheets, anonymous, without name
I am statisticus, ridiculous, politicus, sublime
A victim of dehumanised, number-crunching times

© CRB 2014 

[With apologies to Ian Dury and John Cooper Clarke]