Up North Trip

In which I travel to northern parts of Scotland with my wife and four-year-old daughter (who I refer to respectively as J and C. Because they’re on the run from the law)

Fort William

As we left Glasgow, the snow was just a light dusting that briefly settled on high flats. But now it was Proper Snow, a thick white paint over every hill in sight. We stopped to use the toilets at the Green Welly in Tyndrum, a cafe-cum-diner flanked by the type of shops that support the stereotypical image of Scotland, selling tartan scarves and Highland Cow toys. Outside, a tour bus disgorged its contents of American pensioners. As they shuffled across the snow, I realised that this weather–snow in April–was unusual for us natives, but perhaps expected by tourists falsely educated on Scotland by Hallmark cards and deceitful paintings.

(I’ll be honest, I concentrated so much on the tourists because I expected at least one of them to fall. If you’re the tour guide, surely you watch 60 pensioners dodder across ice and snow and think, I might only be taking 59 away again)

Continue reading “Up North Trip”


Friday Links: 8th June 2018


I’ve taken out a month’s free trial to Scribd, so right now I’m battering through as many books as I can. Scribd’s selection is much better than Amazon Prime, but I still don’t think I’ll stick with it past the trial period.

So, from Scribd, I’m reading/have read the following (for ease all links go to Amazon):




Friday Links: 25th May 2018


I’m flicking between a few at night nowadays, so there’s a couple on the current reading list:

I also got a good cashback offer from Quidco, so got these three for what should turn to be around £4:

  • The Churchill Factor
  • A History of Britain (this arrived today, and I’ve just realised this is only part one of a three part series)
  • Walt Disney. I’d been hankering to read a Disney biography for a while, but didn’t want to face the 728-page one from my wishlist. This one is well reviewed




Friday Links: 4th May 2018




Friday Links 20/4/18

Haven’t done one of these for weeks






Thoughts on…Molly’s Game, Pulp Fiction, Homeland


Molly’s Game

Molly’s Game writer and director, Aaron Sorkin, has a distinctive style of writing. Molly’s Game doesn’t go the full Sorkin, although many reviewers will disagree. There are moments of heavy chatter, but not too many. Characters generally don’t repeat each other’s line, turning them into questions (“I have a thing”. “You have a thing?”). There are no mentions of Belgium.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction was released 24 years ago. It’s old enough that its pop-culture dialogue seems unusual again. Although Pulp was Quentin Tarantino’s second release, it was the film that spawned many derivatives. Copycat films tried ripping off its style of dialogue without the necessary talent to support it. Even in the 2000s, aspiring screenwriters were still copying QT. I remember being on the forum of film magazine, Empire, and participating in its amateur screenwriting competition. The amount of Tarantino knock-offs it spawned was ridiculous. Seemingly one in every four or five scripts had characters talking about TV or music or some variety of pop culture. If QT holds to his word, he’ll (sadly) retire in the next few years. I wonder if that’ll set off a second round of imitation.

Homeland Season 7

As I mentioned previously, Homeland season 7 started with a plot device that drew attention to its own ridiculousness–the idea that Saul could go from jumpsuited prisoner to suited head of National Intelligence in the span of one day. Now the season is again highlighting things it probably shouldn’t. Dante’s ex-wife points out how offended Dante was that he got demoted, while Carrie–bipolar, responsible for civilian deaths, repeatedly insubordinate–got promoted. Even by TV standards, that’s daft.

I’m unsure if drawing attention to the show’s more nonsensical elements is deliberate. A writer I know thinks it is, that it’s similar to a character saying “This is like something from a TV show”, insulating itself from criticism by acknowledging its own issues. Has the show waited seven seasons to go meta? Will it later highlight that Carrie organised surveillance and a group to kidnap a woman while not being employed by the government in any capacity?

The odd thing about the show is that, as it gets more absurd, it remains watchable. Homeland isn’t the same show it once was. But I’m still there every Monday night.

Friday Links: 09/03/2018



Interested in:

I also recently finished A Man for All Markets. It’s a good book, but one that suffers from a sequencing problem. The book goes from Thorp learning to count cards and predict roulette, to him setting up his own financial firm, to his opinions on Wall St and the stock market. The Vegas section is a really enjoyable read. And that’s the issue–every segment is less entertaining than the last. The book runs out of steam halfway through. I continued to learn all through the book, but the excitement dissipated with every page. I think the book would be better had Thorp interlaced his Vegas stories with his other topics. I’d still give up 7/10.