Decline & Fall by Chris Mullin

Decline & Fall is the second volume of Mullin’s diaries, which I bought on a whim to read on my phone without having read the first volume. The first volume was about life as a junior minister in Tony Blair’s government; this one starts with him being sacked after the 2005 election, and so is about being a backbench MP in the last five years of the Blair/Brown government.

It probably would have made more sense to read the first volume first, but I enjoyed this anyway; because he never had a senior job in government, he’s just enough of an outsider to provide a clear-eyed account of life in the Westminster bubble. I might have to read the first volume, now.

And, incidentally, the fact it’s a diary made it well suited to reading on a small screen. Short entries mean you can easily dip in and out of it.

» The picture is of a design for fabric for a roller blind for the Houses of Parliament by Augustus Pugin, from the V&A.

Links

  • ‘In an old stone tank near the house found the decayed head of what may be a dog but I think is a jackal. There are said to be some in this country. In either case a very complete skull, so have put it up on a stick for the insects to get it clean.’ I would never have been able to guess it was Orwell who wrote these diaries.
    (del.icio.us tags: GeorgeOrwell diaries )

The Wah-Wah Diaries by Richard E. Grant

This is Grant’s account of making Wah-Wah, his first film as director. Grant grew up in Swaziland and the film is about growing up there, so I read it as my book from Swaziland for the Read The World challenge.

For me, the book is mainly interesting for its portrayal of film-making, which is fascinating but sounds very very stressful: complicated, expensive, highly time-sensitive, and requiring the juggling of dozens of cast and crew, all of whom have other work commitments.

The film was a French co-production, for the sake of getting the right funding and tax breaks; and Grant had an exceptionally bad relationship with his French producer, who comes across in the book as startlingly incompetent and badly-suited to her job. In fact I suspect her first reaction on reading it was probably to call her lawyer.

It was slightly odd to be reading a making-of book for a film I haven’t seen, but it was an engaging read. I’ll keep an eye out for the film.

(and by the way, is it me or does Julie Walters look really weird in the poster?)

Links

  • 'The Orwell Prize, Britain’s pre-eminent prize for political writing, is publishing George Orwell’s diaries as a blog. From 9th August 2008, Orwell’s domestic and political diaries (from 9th August 1938 until October 1942) will be posted in real-time, exactly 70 years after the entries were written.'
    (del.icio.us tags: GeorgeOrwell diaries 1930s )
  • Good stuff from Darwin's Beagle diary today: 'Shortly after passing the first spring we came in sight of the famous tree, which the Indians reverence as a God itself, or as the altar of Walleechu… Being winter the tree had no leaves, but in their place were countless threads by which various offerings had been suspended.'
    (del.icio.us tags: CharlesDarwin C19th Argentina )
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