Watching the English & other books

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watchingenglish.jpgOn a friend’s recommendation, just finished Watching the English by Kate Fox, a brilliant book by an anthrolopologist who’s spent years doing what the title says. An absolutely must-read book for anyone who wants to understand the weirdness of the English. It’s also an education in how to make erudition interesting and entertaining – I love her asides about academic pretentions in her own field, like the fellow academic she ribs for going on about ‘material culture’:
“Oh, you mean things.” she says.
The quality of her writing has ruined me for the other ‘duty reads’ that I’m engaged in – still ploughing through the Cambridge Companion to Ballet, which is interesting but rather worthy and colourless by comparison.

Still, not as bad as the awful book Piano Roles, which I couldn’t wait to put down. I had such high hopes, but it was so badly compiled, so lacking in direction, voice or colour that I had to force myself to read to the end of each paragraph. Whereas Kate Fox speaks directly to you in an engaging way, at every turn conscious that her subject might leave you cold or confused unless she finds a way to make it interesting, the multiple authors thrown together in Piano Roles have no chance of achieving any such thing from the outset. Yuk. It’s the first book about the piano I’ve picked up in my career as a pianist, and it’s put me off reading another one.

sprayer-1.jpgOn a happier note, it’s been over 30 degrees the last couple of days, so I guess it must have been quite pleasant to be operating a heavy-duty spray gun like this to clean the buildings in Prague.

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