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Jerry Pournelle

I seem to have missed the passing of SF writer Jerry Pournelle. This may have been because I was out of the country and not on the internet at the time.

He was apparently the first author to have used a word processor to write a subsequently published piece of fiction.

Apart from an anthology he edited and one novel the works of his in my SF collection were written in collaboration with Larry Niven.

In general I found his military SF and right wing politics not to my taste, but if I recall correctly one of his novels echoed the beginning of Robert Graves’s I Claudius (I cannot at the moment check the book concerned as it is in the garage – to where most of my paperbacks were consigned after our house move) but he was a prominent figure in the genre.

Jerry Eugene Pournelle: 7/8/1933 – 8/9/2017. So it goes.

Poppy Watch 2017

It was one month and one day before Armistice Day this year (ie on October 10th) when I saw my first paper poppies beside a shop’s till. If you were to wear them for all that time they would have surely have deteriorated beyond use.

On Friday 20th Oct I saw one in the wild (as it were.) A young girl at the entrance to Kirkcaldy Library had just “dropped her flower.” She didn’t seem to know what it represented.

At least the politicians haven’t – quite – got round to it yet. Unless I’ve missed them.

My first sighting on TV this year was on Saturday night (21st Oct) and it was sported by an Italian! That is just bizarre. OK they were our allies in the Great War but in (most of) World War 2 we were enemies – even if their soldiers’ hearts weren’t really in it. (The Italian in question was Chelsea’s manager Antonio Conte. This just goes to show the unpleasant overtones of coercion associated with poppy wearing by public figures these days.)

Tonight came the first “normal” TV appearance – on the BBC’s Countryfile. Three weeks before Remembrance Day. And how long before it was the piece filmed?

I will make my contribution to the Earl Haig Fund as usual this year but reserve my right not to wear the poppy. I’ll say it again. The servicemen it commemorates died for my right not to be forced to wear one.

Live It Up 39: Runnin’ Down a Dream/End of the Line. RIP Tom Petty

So, now Tom Petty has gone.

I was aware of him of course but never really followed him as he broke through around the time I was getting on with life instead of listening to music. Judging by the music of his that I have heard he was firmly in the rock mainstream. This may be typical.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin’ Down a Dream

The esteem in which he was held is exemplified by his invitation to The Travelling Wilburys. Not a bad group to be a member of.

This song’s title seems all too appropriate.

The Travelling Wilburys: End of the Line

Oh, Maggie, What Did We Do?

Anyone looking for a metaphor for the parlous state of the UK today doesn’t need to go very far. They only have to look at Theresa May’s speech at the Tory Party Conference yesterday. Just about everything that could go wrong did. The prankster illustrating the lack of authority the office of Prime Minister now holds. That letter falling off the slogan in the background which says it all about how austerity has hollowed away national cohesion and expertise. The slogan itself – a blatant example of truth reversal (they’re not building the country; they’re tearing it apart; they never do anything for everyone, they act for themselves, those who fund them and the extremely well-off.) A leader struggling to overcome the problems (albeit not entirely of her own making – though she didn’t do much to prevent their coming to pass and arguably contributed to their increase) in front of her.

And what on Earth was that about the British Dream?

There isn’t a British Dream*. We don’t do that sort of thing. We’re not USian.

But the phrase reminded me irresistibly of this song written by Roger Waters and taken from Pink Floyd’s album The Final Cut, from which I filched this post’s title. And the question it poses is a good one. I can trace all the ills that befall life in the UK today to that government from the 1980s. Kow-towing to the power of money, rampant exploitation of workers, poorly paid jobs, lack of social housing, high private rents – all have their roots in those times.

There are two unfortunate references in the song’s lyric, though. “Nips” (but that of course enables the rhyme) and “England”. She did damage to a hell of a lot more than England, Roger.

Pink Floyd: The Postwar Dream

*If there is it consists of getting the better of Johnny Foreigner and despising its own working class.

Counterproductive Tactics

What a spectacular misjudgement the Spanish government made in their response to the referendum in Catalonia.

Yes it did not have official sanction and therefore was illegal but to send in riot police and beat up citizens is not going to win over voters. It may have the diametrically opposite effect.

In a similar vein, if you wish to convince the citizens of a country with whose head of state you have a dispute to get rid of him themselves and that you are not a threat to those citizens in the way he claims then it isn’t perhaps the wisest pronouncement to say you will totally destroy said country.

Brian Aldiss

Earlier today I read the news that Brian Aldiss has died.

At times during my youth he was about the sole standard bearer for British SF (for which actually read English SF as Science Fiction from other parts of these islands was more or less invisible till years later.) Only John Wyndham and J G Ballard had anything like as high a profile and they were very different writers.

(Edited to add: I don’t know why it was that Arthur C Clarke slipped my mind when I originally wrote this. Maybe because his output was hard SF as compared to the others.)

As a result of Aldiss’s prominence I have a large number of his books. I think The Interpreter was the first SF book I bought as opposed to borrowing them from the local library.

The latest such purchase was bought for me for Christmas by the good lady because she liked the cover so much – and she read it before me!

I suppose there won’t be any more now.

I did meet him once; briefly, at one of the Liverpool Eastercons.

One of the greats. Arguably the last of the SF pioneers.

Brian Wilson Aldiss: 18/8/1925 – 19/8/2017. So it goes.

Bruce Forsyth

So farewell, then, Brucie.

You had a long run.

Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson: 22/2/1928 – 18/8/2017. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 156: Wichita Lineman – RIP Glen Campbell

Sad to hear the news earlier this week of the death of Glen Campbell.

He had one of the clearest voices in popular music. Though he had among other things previously been a touring member of The Beach Boys and I must have heard his version of By the Time I Get to Phoenix he first really came to my attention with Wichita Lineman written by Jimmy Webb which it seems Campbell recorded even though apparently Webb hadn’t finished the song.

This apparently live performance doesn’t have the “Morse Code” strings which come in at the end of the refrain.

Glen Campbell: Wichita Lineman

The video below – featuring clips from throughout Campbell’s career – does though, as the recorded version provides the backing.

Glen Campbell: Wichita Lineman

Glen Travis Campbell: 22/4/1936-8/8/2017. So it goes.

Hywel Bennett

Another passing milestone.

Actor Hywel Bennett has died.

He was great in Shelley and made a wonderfully louche Rikki Tarr in the TV adaptation of John le Carré‘s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Hywel Thomas Bennett: 8/4/1944 – 25/7/2017. So it goes

Blogging Hiatus

For various reasons I haven’t been able to organise blog posts recently. I’ve also missed the second round of Confederations Cup matches.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can get round to it.

I note Sons’ fixture list for next season is due out tomorrow. I might be able to comment on that by Saturday.

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