Bookshelf Travelling for Insane times – A Plethora of Banks

This week’s entry for Judith, Reader in the Wilderness‘s meme now being run by Katrina at Pining for the West.

These are all on the top shelf of my “Scottish” bookcase and comprise all of Iain Banks’s non-SF fiction works plus his non-fiction wander round the world of Scotch whisky, Raw Spirit.

Books by Iain Banks

Lying around in a file somewhere I’ve got reviews of these that (except for the last four) haven’t been put on here. They were in preparation for a piece giving an overview of Banks’s work in a book that never saw fruition.

Maybe I’ll post them sometime.

Forfar Athletic 0-0 Dumbarton

SPFL Tier 3, Station Park, 17/10/20.

Not a bad start (not a loss,) not a really good start (not a win either.)

It’ll do to be going on with, though, even if a goal would have been nice.

Clyde’s win against Partick Thistle makes our defeat there last Saturday look not too bad a result.

We’ve got them at home next week though.

Chester Cathedral Interior

Model of Chester Cathedral in Lego. The idea is you buy a lego brick for £1 and add it to the model. Note the War Memorial on the green patch:-

Model of Chester Cathedral in Lego

Chancel:-

Chancel, Chester Cathedral

The very ornate choirstalls:-

Choirstalls, Chester Cathedral

Vaulted ceiling:-

Ceiling, Chester Cathedral

Rood Screen & stained glass windows:-

Rood Screen & Stained Glass Windows, Chester Cathedral

More atained glass windows:-

Stained Glass Windows, Chester Cathedral

Modern stained glass windows:-

Chester Cathedral, Modern Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows and lightshades:-

Stained Glass Windows and Lightshades, Chester Cathedral

Asteroid Bennu

This is from You Tube via Astronomy Picture of the Day for 12/12/20.

A video of Asteroid Bennu, first of all with speeded up spin, then zooming in to a prominent rock on the surface (given the name Simurgh apparently,) as shot from spacecraft OSIRIS-REx shortly to try to land and get a sample of Bennu to bring back to Earth.

It’s still thrilling to me that we as a species can do and see things like this.

Friday on my Mind 195: You Got Soul – RIP Johnny Nash

I noted the passing of Johnny Nash last week. Apparently he was instrumental in ensuring Bob Marley’s first recording contract. He certainly recorded Stir it Up and got a UK hit with it.

Nash’s most famous song is of course I Can See Clearly Now (1972) but his only No 1 was Tears on My Pillow in 1975. His first UK hit was Hold Me Tight in 1968. This song was its follow-up and shows off his rock-steady/reggae background.

Johnny Nash: You Got Soul

John Lester (Johnny) Nash: 19/8/1940 – 6/10/20. So it goes.

22nd Cheshire Regiment Memorial

This is also in the grounds of Chester Cathedral.

Cheshire Regimental Memorial

It is inscribed, “In grateful remembrance of the officers and men of the 22nd [Cheshire] Regiment who laid down their lives in the service of their country 1939-1945.”

22nd [Cheshire] Regimental Memorial 3

Regimental Memorial, 22nd Cheshire Regiment

22nd Cheshire Regimental Memorial

War Memorial, Chester

The Memorial is in red sandstone to match the Cathedral behind. It has a hexagonal base of four steps supporting a plinth bearing a cross.

It is inscribed, “Erected by a grateful city in honour of her sons who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914–1918. Their names are engraved on tablets of bronze in the Town Hall and their imperishable memory in the hearts of their fellow citizens.”

War Memorial, Chester

Inscribed on third tier here, “1939-1945”:-

War Memorial, Chester

Third view:-

War Memorial by Chester Cathedral

Chester Cathedral Exterior

The cathedral is up a side road and fairly hemmed in so not easy to photograph.

Chester Cathedral

Side door, not used as an entrance when we were there:-

Chester Cathedral Door

Detail, side door:-

Detail Chester Cathedral Door

After a Dead Dog by Colin Murray

Constable, 2007, 414 p

 After a Dead Dog cover

The author used to be an editor for Orbit and was in fact the person who bought my novel “A Son of the Rock” for publishing under that imprint. Unfortunately (for me) he left that post soon after and his replacement didn’t seem to take to my stuff. Ah well. Murray has since taken to writing himself and this was his first novel. By the evidence shown here his experiences of editing have not gone to waste.

There are, though, echoes/reminders throughout of the writing of Iain Banks, what with the setting in rural Scotland (here the Kintyre peninsula,) an ex-lover for whom the narrator still holds a torch (and who hasn’t quite got over him,) a family secret, a ‘big house’, a political connection and a crime – several crimes – to be unravelled. As in The Crow Road, which the text explicitly mentions, we start – Prologue excepted – with a funeral. The dialogue at times approaches the irreverence of the banter we meet in Banks but doesn’t quite have his zing and sparkle. The first person narrator, a more or less washed up poet turned TV scriptwriter, is even named Iain (Lewis,) though is for some reason often addressed by other characters as ‘Lewis, Iain.’

The funeral was that of Margaret Crawford, mother of Lewis’s first girl friend Carole (now Ferguson) whose relationship with him broke up shortly after the death of her father (attributed to suicide) more than a few years before. The Crawfords run a fish processing business in the town. At the funeral purvey Carole’s husband Duncan introduces Iain to a business associate from Dublin, Colm Kelly, and plies Iain with spiked drinks so that he will be arrested by the local bobbie for drink driving on his way home. Iain manages to avoid drinking them all, puzzling the copper, an old adversary from school, with his negative test. The plot then engages when Iain arrives home and finds a strange suitcase in his study. It contains money and packages with white powder in them. Wondering how, exactly, he would explain this circumstance to the police, he hides the suitcase. Shortly thereafter he finds Danny McGovern (who had earlier noticed a boat on the sea-loch making odd manoeuvres) dead in a caravan dragged from its usual position. Iain enlists the aid of his pal, crime reporter Dougie Henderson, to help him resolve his problem.

Iain’s narration is replete with allusion and more than the odd quotation – which will please the more highbrow reader – and we have enough degrees of skulduggery involving Kelly and New Labour politician and Scottish Executive Minister, Alan Baird to satisfy crime aficionados. Of Edinburgh Iain says it, “has a railway line where it ought to have a river, it’s not very nice to motorists and it’s always cold,” while its good people are positively icy. “If ever a city deserved a dyspeptic Duke it was Edinburgh.”

Murray spins a very good tale. Perhaps as a character Duncan is a bit underdrawn but Iain himself, Carole and Dougie are rounded personalities. The baddies are as baddies are, but then arguably that is as it should be. After a Dead Dog – an odd title but a quote from the Old Testament – is very readable stuff.

Pedant’s corner:- “‘Trick or treat?’” (while Murray correctly refers to the children coming round the doors at Hallowe’en as guisers, it is not usually the case – or wasn’t in my day – to ask this question. It was, however, expected that any child desiring largesse in the form of sweets or money from their hosts performed a party piece first as part of the implicit bargain involved,) Yeats’ (Yeats’s,) wifeys (usually spelled ‘wifies’.) “They were hewed from the same rock” (they were hewn,) “the Great Western Road, the Byres Road” (these well-known Glasgow thoroughfares don’t attract the definite article in local speech; they’re called Great Western Road and Byres Road,) “stamping ground” (isn’t the phrase ‘stomping ground’?) Stephane Grapelly (Grapelli,) “I felt like fool” (a fool,) Evans’ (Evans’s,) soccer (football!) “‘aren’t I?’” (said by Dougie Henderson. He’s Scottish, he would more likely say, ‘amn’t I?’)

More of Traditional Chester

From where we parked it was a short walk into the city centre over the canal with a Roman wall high above it:-

Roman Wall, Chester

A street in Chester, showing typical timber-framed Tudor style buildings:-

Chester Rows

Another street. Contains a shop called Rigby. Note clock (a Deco touch?):-

Another Chester Street

The impressive Town Hall building dates from 1869:-

Chester Town Hall (maybe)

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