How Important is it to be well-read?

This is a really fab blog by Tom about being well-read – I adored it! Go read & like the original post, folks 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

My mother is probably the wisest person I’ve ever known. She’s not schooled, she’s not well read. But she has a philosophy of life that makes well-read people seem like morons. –  Gene Simmons

How well-read you are has been a standard measure of intelligence, social kudos and pulling power since the written word was invented. In fact, it’s hard to resist conjecture that it was invented simply to impress other people. And this lingers, despite a digital age of commuters watching TV box sets on public transport, or publicly declaring how moronic they are by playing pointlessly additive games such as the ubiquitous Candy Crush. These activities are for unplugging the mind, not engaging it. Of course in some circles to have concluded the Eggsteroids level in Angry Birds is greatly admired, but it isn’t quite the same as being well-read. Not yet.

Being well-read is a…

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Game of Thrones: all style and no substance

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Game of Thrones…

WHY?

Why do this to us? We invested so much into the show and have been treated with utter contempt in return.

Let’s start with Daenerys. So many people are spitting mad she is now “the insane queen”.

I’m sorry, but she was always destined to become exactly that. The only problem I have with her burning everything to the ground is that this season was incredibly rushed and we don’t see the progression of her state of mind clearly enough. But it was always on the cards. Dany has consistently shown pride and arrogance, an utter belief in her “right” to rule. She never showed any mercy in the past when she thought people didn’t accept her birth right. She ultimately suffers from that god-awful self-righteousness that affects so many people who see themselves as “good” – they make the best tyrants because they believe that anything is justified when it comes to ridding the world from “bad” people. God knows I’ve seen enough of this in real life in the last 2 years, I’ve been abused and bullied by so many who preach “love, not hate” simply because I disagree with them. That’s not kindness, it’s a horrifying sense of their own moral superiority which drives them. But I digress, revenons à nos moutons.

Jon Snow or Aegon Targaryen…it makes no difference: he knows nothing. I have grown so annoyed with him in the last few episodes. Leaving aside the fact there’s NO chemistry between him and Dany and their relationship has been unbelievable from the start and no more than a convenient plot point, what the hell was he doing indulging a woman who clearly cares more about the throne than their relationship? Also, does it not strike anyone as odd that incest has not been mentioned at all, not at any point since Jon discovered who he really was? Not once. Dany immediately begged him not to tell anyone, he refused at which point she turned frostier than all the combined ice queens throughout history…but he or she never said: oh, hey, we’re family and we’re…you know…having sex…maybe we should think about that…FOR AT LEAST A COUPLE OF SECONDS! But no, clearly incest is fine in this case even though the whole realm was in bits over Cersei and Jaime…okay.

So Jon watched with a stupid expression on his face when Dany started to let loose in the city and her ‘army’ suddenly turned into bloodthirsty savages. The breaker of chains was now a burner of children and Jon was nonplussed, as if he really, REALLY didn’t see that coming.

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I have championed Jon for years, but this last season has led me to think that maybe he doesn’t deserve the throne anymore than that crazy arrogant bitch does. That’s an exaggeration actually, but he better redeem himself by killing her in the last episode – I won’t be satisfied with anything less.

As for Tyrion. He’s meant to be a smart man, he’s been one of my favourite characters because of it…and yet, he betrays Varys and chooses the wrong side …then we have to endure the camera lingering on his shocked and horrified face…what I was doing when that happened was shouting (quietly, it was almost 3am and other reasonable people in my house were sleeping) “what are you looking so shocked about? Is it because you realise you misplaced your brain?? You stupid fuck!”

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The fact he also thought Cersei would “give up” if she thought the city was lost made no sense whatsoever. Does he NOT know his sister by now??

Varys…he deserved better, he really did. Again, if they hadn’t rushed this season we would have seen him think long and hard about whether Dany was fit to rule or not…he might have agonised over it…it would have taken time because, well, these things do and it’s Varys ffs, he isn’t the type to be impatient or make decisions in haste…and yet from one episode to the next he decided the woman he had gone through so much to support wasn’t actually right for the role he had envisioned for her and he went straight to Jon with this…absolutely ridiculously stupid.

Are we REALLY meant to believe Varys would immediately betray Dany and that Tyrion would also immediately betray Varys?? Give us some credit, it flies in the face of everything we know about the characters.

The dragons…last week we lost one in about 20 seconds as a ballista seemed super accurate and destructive. Three shots managed to bring down a powerful moving target…JUST LIKE THAT.

Never mind the fact Dany and her advisers should have been prepared for some kind of attack as they were nearing King’s Landing, NEVER MIND THAT, nobody thinks anymore because the writers wanted to be done with Game of Thrones once and for all…so last week we lost a dragon quickly and effortlessly, there was no strategy in place, no scouts had been sent ahead like they’ve been since the dawn of time in those kind of, you know, WAR situations. Fast forward to last night and a ballista is ALL OF A SUDDEN totally ineffective – like it should have been last week – and the last remaining dragon now has a super duper instinct and is dodging everything aimed at it with NO problem whatsoever. Hmmm, ok.

Cersei…waiting with a faint smile on her face, confident af and I have to tell you, I was SURE she had some kind of brilliant plan in place. She must have had, right? She’s displayed such cunning in the past, she’s smart, there’s no way she’d just wait for a dragon to come swooping down burning everything to the ground…right?

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WRONG. Turns out there was NO plan, none whatsoever. The wildfire that had been put to such good use in the past may as well not have existed. Oh, it appeared, but as an afterthought, because the dragon ignited it as it was rampaging through the city. Could I have rolled my eyes any harder?? 

I was asked to believe that this brilliant if flawed woman had lost her capacity for thinking too. No, no and no. Come the fuck on.

So I watched as the confident smile turned into a worried frown… then into a face betraying fear…then eventually into tears. Lena Headey is SUCH a brilliant actress, she can convey more with her face than most people with pages of dialogue…she deserved SO much better than this.

Jaime…that fight with Euron (how the fuck did he survive btw, another stupid thing in a long line of them) was contrived and utterly ridiculous…he somehow found his way to Cersei at the end of it…and he died with the woman he loved in his arms. How touching. But wait…THAT Jaime who knighted Brienne and had sex with her? That Jaime who stayed behind in Winterfell until he SUDDENLY decided he had to go and be with the love of his life after all?? Yeah, that one, because the writers yet again wanted to end all this as quickly as possible and destroyed all the character building that had gone on for entire seasons.

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My favourite bit last night was the scene between Tyrion and Jaime btw, it reminded me of a time when GoT actually made sense and could be emotional and didn’t try hard to steamroll my favourite characters.

CleganeBowl was great too but once again it was part of an episode that packed far too much in. It kind of diminished something that had been coming for a LONG time.

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I’m not sure what they were doing with Arya, I think that after she – kind of quickly and easily gave up on her revenge plans – served mainly as a witness to the horrors visited upon King’s Landing’s inhabitants…all the people Dany is supposed to care about, the poor, the powerless, the REAL people.

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I most probably left lots of stuff out, but to conclude: last night’s episode LOOKED great: the dragon unleashing hell, the carnage, the blood, the buildings collapsing, the people screaming, the burning bodies, the ash, the dust…visually, I can’t really fault it. But that’s all it was, style and no substance. Which might satisfy some people but most of us care a great deal more about content.

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I am so, SO disappointed by this last season. I spent the time during the breaks and after the episode messaging with people who all, without any exception, felt as pissed off as I did. We felt CHEATED.

I read this on Twitter and it echoed my own thoughts so much, I’m ending this rant with it:

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For anybody who wants a more measured review, you can check out Tom’s blog: Game of Thrones: The Final Season (NO spoilers)

Notre-Dame

I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?

Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.

We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.

How Writers Survive Bad Reviews.

“If there is one thing that writing teaches an author, other than how easily the semi-colon might be misused and how gleefully people love to point it out to you, it is to prevail. Writing gives purpose to an aimless day and teaches resilience….”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” Mark Twain.

There is so much focus upon writing, on the magic tips and tricks that at times the real skill is neglected. And that is the art of disallowing poor feedback or bad reviews from ruining your day, and your ENTIRE BLOODY LIFE AND EVERYTHING THAT HAS LED TO THIS DISASTROUS MOMENT, which is pretty much what neighbours heard when I read my first 2-star review of the Life Assistance Agency on Amazon. Ironically writers chase these reviews because it helps with algorithms and sales, although no one has yet provided a coherent answer as the relationship between the two without ending up sounding like a conspiracy theorist. And what reviews don’t help with is your mental stability. Or do they?

(Yet) another great thing…

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What’s it REALLY like to be a published writer..

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

One of the most common questions people ask writers is ‘What’s it really like to be a published writer?’ At least the ones who are published. You should categorically NOT ask someone not yet published this. The number of times I had to explain I was not yet published in the sort of whisper familiar to parents being nicked for shoplifting and not wanting to wake their child… Actually, it isn’t the most common question at all, that’s more likely to be, ‘D’you want a pastry with that coffee?’

These people who enquire about writing don’t really exist, writers just make them up; hordes of people aching with questions about their creative processes. I’m unsure anyone other than fellow writers really care, but that’s not going to stop us from telling you…

So, what’s it really like to be a published writer? You know, beyond the fame, the adulation and…

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The Things We Don’t Tell People…

“Our lives don’t have a plot until the end, and you’re left asking who the hell was writing it, why were they so obsessed with tea and sex and could you have a refund?”

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.” – George Orwell

Apologies to people arriving here in the hope of some dirt, some unadulterated drunken admissions that upon waking deliver you into a fresh world of unrepairable fury and decimation. It’s not a confessional It’s too early in my life for that.

There’s so much we don’t tell people, and frankly it’s probably for the best. I’m not just referring to first dates when you neglect to mention your favourite past time is lying passed-out on the sofa in front of 24hours live-feed of World Golf tournaments. I’m referring to all those bits of us that tick-over in our heads unbeknown to anyone. Our lives are like that John Arnold quote about war as ‘long periods of boredom punctuated by short moments of excitement,’ only the excitement is not spilling take-away coffee over yourself on…

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How important are Daily Rituals to Writers..?

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Dare to be complicated – be the child’s robot that sings sweet Child O’Mine. – from notes in my phone.

‘How d’you find time to write?’ has to be one of the most common responses to any writer announcing they are starting another novel, as though they’ve found some secret stash of time under the stairs in that strange old chest that glows after midnight. It’s not a football match, there’s always time, although you may not necessarily be around to see it. Life is simply how you choose to spend our time. Cooks like to literally chop stuff up while crime writers enjoy chopping stuff up literally. Besides, having time to write doesn’t automatically mean you’ll do any. In fact, give someone unlimited time and they’ll achieve nothing, beyond the ability to mumble mañana beneath their breath.  As we know, nothing fuels invention like necessity.

Writing is like grabbing…

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Is camping REALLY a good idea?

When writers go camping, they’ve got one advantage over other campers, they can write about it when they get home – which proves once again that writing is the best therapy. Please go like on Tom’s blog 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“I can’t sit still and see another man slaving and working. I want to get up and superintend, and walk round with my hands in my pockets, and tell him what to do. It is my energetic nature. I can’t help it.”

Jerome K. Jerome – Three men in a Boat.

I’ve been camping with two under 6-year old boys for a few days and I’m shattered, like I’ve been sleeping in the bass bin at a Leftfield gig. It’s a unique type of tiredness that suggests you missed an entire night’s sleep and have been covered in a layer of sweaty glue and smell of a bonfire.

Any self respecting idler should listen attentively for suggestions of camping, and be ready with excuses at the drop of a bent-tent-peg that’s impossible to hammer into even the softest ground yet remains in the equipment bag. Nothing has ever looked better…

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We need to talk about what’s Cool.

The latest from my favourite – definitely very cool – writer.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

It’s been apparent for years that some people are cooler than others and it has to stop. No UK political party has ever addressed it, not even Corbyn’s Labour, so it’s clearly not a vote winner, which once again is cool people’s gain. And the rest of us? Well, we’re just left on the slag heap of credibility.

These days its harder to determine who’s cool thanks to art students and hipsters who dress like children fumbling in the dark with access to nothing but high-waisted jeans, 70s beanie hats and shoes rounder than Cobbler Smurf’s. I saw someone with a rolled up cigarette inserted through her ear apparently pierced for this exact purpose. She’s clearly someone who wants the people to know that she smokes, even when she isn’t. Is that cool? She clearly thinks it is. Of course it’s hard to define cool, through doing so you instantly lose…

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