Sunday, April 30, 2006

Books: Without fear or favour? Crap! Bloody terrified, more like...

A couple of years ago I remember hearing the shaky voice of Australian Journalist Eric Campbell, live from somewhere else, telling us that his cameraman had been blown up when a car-bomb pulled up beside them and detonated. The cameraman had a baby daughter, and had died between Eric and the bomb. You could tell Eric had cracked. You could tell that he wasn't heading back to a war zone for a while. This book explains why.

Journalists are the witnesses of the world - they are the people who stand up when all others are silent and say, "The injustice happened. I saw it." If bad things happen when good people stay silent, journalists like Eric Campbell are the good people. He is an old school journalist. He tells it like he sees it - sometimes as he sees it - without favour, though, at times, plenty of fear.

This is his story, from when he finally became a foreign correspondent, at 35, to now, ironically back in his first foreign post, Moscow, with his wife (who deserves a book in her own right, but I can't name for fear of spoiling some of the story) and a new baby daughter.

It is a testament to the quality of his journalism that I could remember flashes of his news reports from almost every incident in the book. If you saw his reports, now you can read the story behind them. If you didn't see his reports, the book will open your eyes about the nature of war and peace, human cruelty and compassion. You will be entertained, you will be inspired and you will close the book satisfied that the world is a better place for people like Eric Campbell.

Friday, April 28, 2006

crap advertising: can't say much about the house, but...

of particular note is the glass brick structure enclosing the stairs that lead to the first floor
h I would note, if the ad included a photograph of it, or a floorplan that showed where it is. I'd even drive by for a look, except that there is no street number and no map link. So it's a bad ad, and I can't say much about the house because there is no information. In fact - and read this carefully if you're an estate agent - there is not enough information there for me to decide whether to look at the house or not, so I will not.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

And it takes a bigger man to be cool about it - or Chris Eubank reads my BLOG

Chris Eubank, or his people, must read my blog, and more importantly, have a sense of humour, because this afternoon, instead of yesterday's rage, I heard cheery toots from an enormous horn. (Well, as cheery as toots from an enormous horn can be - I actually had heart palpitations - it was like being pipped by Queen Mary, or a lighthouse.) I looked up just in time to see two chrome exhaust pipes pass my window, and rolled across in time to confirm the URL on the back of the cab.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It takes a big man to drive a small car

I read somewhere that the only car that can out-Hummer a Hummer for sheer wank value is a truck - not, not a Chevvy Suburban or any other pretender, we're talking a real truck: prime mover; the front-end of a semi-trailer; the articulate end of an articulated lorry; Kenworth!

Judging by the language that was coming from the window of the very large and shiny, possibly even sexy, left-hand-drive Kenworth that just passed my window, Chris Eubank or his truck-minder finds driving such a large vehicle in London just a little stressful. (I don't think it was Chris, because the driver got out at one point, and he looked a little heavy, and a little grey to be Chris. Of course, driving in London can do that to you.

Nice truck though. And his heart is in the right place.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Did I laugh? Like a crazy man!

Universal Wifey and I are, in a word, newlyweds - which is why my posts have been sporadic over the last few weeks, and from various different places in the world. (I was calling her Universal Wifey here before she actually was.) Our wedding was fantastic - but not traditional, by anyone's measure: there were stilt walkers and fire twirlers, significant involvement of public transport, the reception was a tiffin tea, the only flowers were actually dragon fruit, the bride didn't wear white and had feathers in her hair. Don't get me wrong, it was amazingly tasteful, but quite different to the norm.

Nevertheless, when we had the opportunity to attend a private screening of Confetti - a mocumentary about three couples competing to have the most original wedding - we felt duty bound to attend. I can't say much about the film because I'm probably already breaking an embargo, and judging by the 20th Century Fox security presence, they're pretty serious aboutit. But let me say that duty paid off.

Confetti is hillarious and I recommend it to you unreservedly. Debbi Isitt has managed the perfect balance of humour and sensitivity. It's gorgeous, and will, I suspect, be the big Brit film hit this year. The humour reminded me of Best In Show, it's funnier than Spinal Tap and all the better when you know that the entire thing was improvised by the actors, who did not see the other couples' performances, or ideas, until the final cut.

Viewed at a private screening
Look for it at your local cinema - it deserves massive success. It's hillarious.

Not condescending at all.

Charles Redbourne, minor English aristocrat, bachelor, not really one for the ladies (wears his checks a little loud, if you know what I mean), heads to New South Wales to make his mark as a naturalist.

I was ready to read Australia condescended to, once again, as a Brit tries to write about Australia as a little pocket of England floating in The Pacific. I always say that if you look hard enough for trouble you'll find it and I looked. I really did, behind page after page of transparent writing, looking for the condescention, searching, seeking; but not finding. Instead I found a kindred spirit in his host's wayward daughter, or perhaps actually in Redbourne himself - torn between his culture and his intellect, his knowledge and his curiosity. It's a great book: a very quick read - despite how thick it looks- and a total pleasure on every page.

When I say the writing is transparent, I mean that it's the kind of writing where you scan your eyes over the words and the images play in your imagination. The best kind of writing. And the cover is beautiful too: a picture of "Loris", as Lorikeets are known in Rifling Paradise, that used to fly in their screeching hundreds our old back garden in Pymble every evening. There is nothing like hearing that sound in the background of a phone call.

Rifling Paradise
Jem Poster
Sceptre 2006, £8.57, $14.74