Robert Pimm

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How to read P G Wodehouse: a new prescription

My blog How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide praised Plumtopiaa P G Wodehouse specialist, for its splendidly non-prescriptive advice on precisely this subject.

In fact I have just oiled over for a further immersion in Plumtopia, notably this informative piece about P G Wodehouse societies including The P G Wodehouse Society UK.  

I can verify that the site is a veritable motherlode of P G Wodehouse-related info.  Recommended.

Meanwhile I have been continuing my own exploration of the oeuvre of the author known as “Plum” (short for “Pelham”, his first name).  I have so far completed my perusal of Carry on Jeeves, Very Good Jeeves, The Inimitable Jeeves, The Code of the Woosters, Joy in the Morning and Ring for Jeeves.  The standard is consistent, although I have taken medical advice not to binge on more than three consecutive P G Wodehouse novels, as intensive research shows this may reduce their impact.

The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Ring for Jeeves”

The efficacy of this new reading prescription has been proven by a Wodehouse abstinence (more…)

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From sea to shining sea – and back again. Prologue.

The first thing I saw were his big butcher’s arms: broad and sheened with sweat.  Next I saw tattoos; a square jaw, thick with stubble, set in a sullen half-smile, half-sneer; and a six-pack of Schlitz, wedged between his thighs on the driver’s seat.

Schlitz – the beer that made Milwaukee famous.  What made Milwaukee famous made a loser out of me.

Was it dangerous to enter the cab of the old Ford pick-up?  Standing by the roadside outside Durango in the evening heat, I had the usual split second to decide.  I sensed contradictory feelings: fear; an urge to keep moving; and thirst.

‘Where are you heading?’ I asked.

‘Cortez.’

The next town.

‘OK.’  I got in.  The cab smelled of camphor.

My 1979 diary and Rand McNally Interstate Road Atlas.  The flag was originally stuck to my red rucksack as a hitch-hiking aid

It was July ’79.  Jimmy Carter was President.  Donald Trump was a 33-year-old real estate developer in (more…)

“From Sea to Shining Sea – and Back Again” – preview

 

The main piece has now been published  

 

 

Why sequels suck

I am watching the sequel to a movie I adored three years ago.  The sequel is so piss-poor that I feel violated and upset.  How can a major studio spend squillions of dollars producing such trash?

Weeks later, it happens again.  Another sequel, another cringe-making dose of drivel.  Strangely, the two movies have much in common, including much of what makes them so unwatchable.

The movies are: Guardians of the Galaxy II  (2017) and The Lego Batman Movie (2017).

Guardians of the Galaxy 2: decent trailer, execrable movie

The Lego Batman Movie: ditto

Why do I feel so personally aggrieved?  First, because I wrote a preview of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on this site in which I said (more…)

Short story: Moscow 1993: The Second Phial

Here is a complete short story, set in the Moscow of 1993.

In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia experienced rapid, chaotic, change.  For many Russians, the transition from communism to capitalism meant hardship, uncertainty and suffering.  For a few, it brought untold riches.

Nearly everyone had to adapt to changed circumstances and work out new uses for old skills.

Like all my stories, The Second Phial is a work of fiction which springs entirely from my imagination

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A doorway in Moscow.  Photo: Robert Pimm

I wrote the story a few years ago and have decided to publish it now in search of feedback.  If you like it, I have a few more like this.  If you don’t like it, tell me also; I might take it down again.

Of course, I hope you enjoy it.  But be honest in your feedback.  If you want to be super-honest and are worried about hurting my feelings in public, send me an e-mail 😉

 

Moscow 1993: The Second Phial

Friday and Saturday nights she always went out, my beautiful Lyuba, trip-trapping down the evil-smelling stairs to the bright lights of Moscow City.  Sometimes, in the heaving crush of the new hard-currency clubs, she fell in love with American or British boys.  She never knew why it happened so fast.

Lyuba never knew either why I always stayed up until she came home.  She never could know why I loved to sit, dressing gown clasped round my knobbly knees, to see her lips grow bright as she told me how she had fallen in love again.

What she did know was that, once she slept with them, they never came back.  Sometimes this made Lyuba melancholy and she sat out in the yard, tears frosting her cheeks as she wept for her lost lovers.  She never knew the difference between the first phial and the second.

But she kept right on falling in love, right up to the end.  So did the boys.

(more…)

Review: words and music in Vienna 10/10

No-one is allowed to applaud.

After each item the audience stirs, a captive beast, constrained – and stays silent.

Only after 15 performances – seven readings by Julian Barnes, and eight piano pieces by Angela Hewitt, lasting two hours – is the audience unleashed.  Rapture ensues.

The Konzerthaus is one of Vienna’s great cultural institutions.  With four separate concert halls, it offers an eclectic range of arts designed to be accessible to a broad public.  In recent years the programme has included the “Originalton” cycle – literary readings with music.  Most authors read in German but in 2015 British author Ian McEwan read; and in 2017 it was the turn of Julian Barnes – both accompanied by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt.

Julian Barnes and Angela Hewitt at the Konzerthaus – Photo Robert Pimm

(more…)

Nine questions about the Alan Clark Diaries: 0/10? or 10/10?

“Why am I still, in the main, so zestful?

I know, but I don’t like to say

In case the gods take it away.”

As so often, Alan Clark, here aged 62, is talking about what he refers to as the other – as in “I fear that if I’d come from ‘an underprivileged background’ I’d probably by now have done time for GBH, or assault, or even what Nanny calls the other.”

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An Amazon reviewer of Alan Clark’s diaries, which cover the period 1972 (when he was 44) to his death in 1999, described him as The Mr Toad of the Tory Party – vain, boastful and a lover of fast cars.  No-one outside the UK has heard of him.  He quotes Hitler, of whom he keeps a signed portrait in his safe, and revels in the shocking effect this has on listeners.

So why read his diaries? (more…)

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