Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Gadget in The Sun

The Sun's longstanding crime reporter Mike Sullivan (who I know a little from years ago) is obviously a reader of Gadget's blog, acknowledging him as the source for this story. It has always amazed me that more journalists don't beat a path to the Inspector's door; it's not like rewriting press releases is more satisfying or interesting, or their readers wouldn't be interested in this stuff. I know we've been banging on about it for years now, but the time the cops (and all other public servants) spend filling out these forms, just to feed the bureaucratic machine, is time they're not spending doing their jobs. And it's time we're all paying for.

Unfortunately, Charles Moore isn't a Gadget reader, if this piece from his Spectator's Notes in the latest Speccie is anything to go on:

I really like Charles' writing, though he rambles on a bit too much about Catholicism and vicarages; this is a rare lapse of common sense, for the reasons Gadget enumerates.

Finally, the iSquared debate on the future of news is very interesting (we think). I'll be handing over my two quid a week to Murdoch - I wonder who else will?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

It's Rather Like Trying To Get An Egg Back Once You've Broken It

There's a 20-minute Theodore Dalrymple interview on the US Pajamas Media site to promote his new (non Monday Books title) The New Vichy Syndrome. He's big on the problems, not so hot on solutions; but then, as he says, it's a bit like trying to rebuild a broken egg. It all ends a little ominously: 'What I rather fear,' he says, 'given our past history, is that, if there were a really severe crisis in Europe then very authoritarian solutions might be tried.'

Charles Moore says much the same thing as Dalrymple (in respect of the financial state we're in, and where it might lead) in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

Samir Raheem wrote an interesting piece in Saturday's Telegraph, too; Apoca-lit Now discusses the future of books and publishing and is worth reading.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Two Monday Books Authors Listed For Orwell Prize

WPC E E Bloggs makes this year's blog/journalism Orwell Prize longlist, having missed out last year. Her blog is here and there's a free extract from the excellent Diary of an On-Call Girl here. (You can buy the book itself here, if you like.) Sometime between now and 2015 we plan to publish the follow-up. We'll keep you posted.

Care home/supported housing worker Winston Smith - named after George Orwell's most famous character, obviously - also makes the longlist. He's one of our authors-in-waiting, in that we're currently editing his book and expect to publish it this autumn. You can read his blog here, though. Some people don't get it - they think he's attacking the kids, when really he's attacking the system (OK, and some of the kids). The stories in the book would make your hair curl.

We submitted Theodore Dalrymple's Second Opinion, but he doesn't make the cut. It's a collection of previously published work, which may explain why.

We tried to persuade Inspector Gadget to enter, but after what happened to Nightjack last year, he was a little gun shy.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Inspector Gadget Goes Off Sick

Actually, he doesn't. But he does explain what happened after Gordon Brown promised to cut police bureaucracy in 2007, and uses the paperwork required to be off sick by way of illustration. (Would it amaze you to learn that, actually, police bureaucracy increased?)

PC Bloggs had interesting points to make on rape recently: she appeared on C4 News wearing a fetching hoodie, and also wrote this piece for the C4 news website.

The always excellent Nurse Anne reveals that they're still hiring bureaucrats hand over fist in her hospital - which chimes with the latest Theodore Dalrymple piece in City Journal:

On March 2, the Guardian reported that the ex-minister, now Lord Warner, said that while spending on Britain’s National Health Service had increased by 60 percent under the Labour government, its output had decreased by 4 percent.

How they get away with this is literally beyond me.

Also of interest from the US: City Journal on Chicago’s Real Crime Story and Mark Steyn in National Review on big government and the decline of America.

Finally, two pieces of obscure (but excellent) 1970s soul. The first is a great Unique Blend track; the second is by Bileo. I understand that the England World Cup squad have no official song this year; someone ought to buy the rights to You Can Win and re-issue it.

Monday, 22 March 2010

On The Edge

We've been looking for a while for a follow-up book to Frank Chalk's excellent It's Your Time You're Wasting (free extract here), and we think we have found it in On The Edge.

It's the story of a year in the life of young English teacher Charlie Carroll - a year in which he jacked in his cosy, comfy job and went round some of the UK's toughest schools, working as a supply teacher and living in a VW camper van.

Primarily, he wanted to find out why so many newly qualified teachers leave their profession within a few years of qualifying.

The behaviour of some kids in some schools provided him with an answer.

It's a shocking, interesting and funny insight into life in the sort of schools to which children are condemned, not sent to learn.

It's also a powerful indictment - by a man who believes wholeheartedly in state education, and gets a huge kick out of teaching - of the costly bureaucratic tragedy that British education, for too many poor families, has become.

It's out in September (though you can pre-order now to get your copy earlier in the summer), and here's the AI cover - comments more than welcome!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Morons With Signs

There are some great sites on the net. I'm not sure who has the time to collate Morons With Signs. I'm just glad they do:

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Half A Beer Is Better Than No Beer At All

The Bookseller and Nielsen both report book sales are down, with non-fiction particularly hard hit. Looks like I picked the wrong day to give up smoking.

This is a surprisingly interesting question.
Two men in a pub. One orders a Paulaner. The waitress brings a Staropramen by mistake. She is about to take it away and replace it, when he offers to pay half-price for it to save the cost of throwing it away.
What decision should she make? Accept the offer and avoid the wastage, or bring a new beer and charge full price?
The answer - or at least, some thoughts on it - is at the excellent 'Knowing and Making' blog.

I spent Sunday at a place I'd never been to before and had scarcely even heard of: Painswick, in Gloucestershire. One of the most beautiful and unspoilt towns in England - I'm not sure how I'd missed it. You should go. Lots of pictures here at www.geograph.co.uk,  but I particularly liked the churchyard:


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Bits and Bobs

I won't bore you with news of bookstores closing here and in Ireland.

Instead, I'll just bore you.

I'd never heard of Abby Sunderland, but here's an online diary, updated from somewhere in the middle of the ocean, detailing her attempt to become the youngest person ever to sail solo round the world.

Not all 16-year-olds have Abby's get up and go (I certainly didn't). Here in the Times, Harriet Sergeant talks about the tragic unemployability of many British kids, and offers a fascinating contrast with a school in Harlem, where most of the children are from broken homes and many have a father in jail.

Sergeant is a really good writer, I think (though she's slightly preaching to the choir I admit). Here she is in the Sunday Times on the unsackability of (particularly) senior people in the public sector. Up to 1,200 people lost their lives in the Stafford NHS disaster - how many managers were fired? (And why isn't Stephen Fry tweeting about how great our system is?)

And here she is in action at a recent Intelligence Squared debate on the NHS. Well worth watching. 

If you like old books (I do) there are some amazing pictures of covers and plates here at the bibliodyssey blog. Almost as interesting are the links on the sidebar.

Finally, here's a guy whose whole schtick is to place his camera down, click it on a two-second delay and see how far he can run away before the picture is taken.


Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Dalrymple on whether the Yorkshire Ripper should ever be allowed out of jail/hospital here in the Times. (The Man from Delmonte he say 'No'.)

Lots of comments underneath, my favourite of which comes from 'Tone R': 'Would a parole board have to question each of his individual personalities?'
(Somebody's Husband, Somebody's Son is a great book on the Ripper, by the way.)
More Dalrymple here in New English Review on Richard Dawkins, allegations of 'censorship' and the bizarre aggression of some of the lunatics who comment on blogs.

Alastair Campbell on Twitter: 'Watching dance of NW3 private school yummymummy 4by4s. would their lives not be better using local schools? Planet saving too'
I'm sure he strongly advised Tony and Cherie not to send their children halfway across London to the school rather than to the local Islington comp. Because if he hadn't, he'd be a hypocrite.

We're slowly getting to grips with Twitter, and think it could be an excellent marketing tool. It's also very good for reminding you of little things you'd forgotten, like this from yesterday: 'in 2000, Mandelson called Brigade of Guards "chinless wonders"; 63 members of Household Divn have died in Afg/Iraq.'

That's Peter Mandelson who was twice thrown out of the Cabinet, by the way, and who is still the key public face of the Labour Party.

Mark Steyn is a great writer. Here's a piece from the Orange County Register on the Greek situation and demographics which is concerning to say the least.

Finally, Bad e-fits from Angry People In Local Newspapers.

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This is the blog of Monday Books. Posts are written by different employees.