Snapshots from our reading room


Reading Room

A president unmasked …again

So, whilst we all wish him well, does Mr Trump have the look of a) a man recovering from Covid-19 having faced his own mortality or b) a person with a lot of (currently and often misplaced) will-power whose doctors dare not stand up to him? Well, b) of course. And was it wise to expose Secret Service personnel to Covid-19 bugs in a hermetically sealed tank of a car? Was it a good use of resources to pay for a political jaunt and subsequently need to quarantine various personnel for a fortnight at the taxpayers’ expense in a hotel room somewhere? Well, perhaps not. And was it a good idea to not wear a mask, to catch the bug in the first place, to organise a couple of super-spreader events, to hand-shake, rattle and roll all over the place with the guests, to travel in a shoebox of a helicopter with half your Cabinet, etc.? Anyway, as I tweeted the other day, hypocrisy is alive & well & living in my house. I caught Covid-19 in mid-September. Reason? I bravely rolled the dice once too often trying to save the economy, take advantage of EOTHO, rescue a few cafes etc. But Donald Trump caught the bug in early-October simply because he’s an idiot. Mark

COVID-19: “it’s your fault. You made me do it.”

The next chapter in the Covid-19 saga could involve the government saying: ‘it’s your fault, you made me do it.’ Certainly, the mood music is positioning us for a nanny-like lecture about how people can’t be left to their own devices and how a ‘fire-break’ (two week lockdown) or (hopefully not) a second full-scale lockdown has been necessitated by all of those naughty, disrespectful members of society who didn’t hold up their end of the bargain when it came to sticking to the ever-changing rules. And that’s a bit of a liberty because most people who’ve picked up the virus this time around simply rolled the dice once too often and were unlucky. That’s what an R rate of 1.4 gets you. It’s not really anybody’s fault but rather a function of opening up the economy where everything you do, schools, non-essential retail, pubs etc adds up to an R rate of more than one and the virus won’t yield to bluster or big-talk. Mark


In praise of Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing

At £16.99, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing is probably the most expensive per word book you’re ever likely to buy, but it is worth every penny if you want to fine tune your writing. Elmore’s tongue is firmly in his cheek with the rules he’s “picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I’m writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what’s taking place in the story.” I avoided prologues, exclamation marks and ‘suddenly’ after reading this book and I took 7,000 words off All Down the Line when I revisited it recently. Andrew