Author Archives: abigailslibrary

The Clockworks – Enough is Never Enough

I have been quiet on my blog lately. Partly because life is happening all around me and I can barely keep up, so there’s no time for reflection, or if there is it’s fleeting and I can’t pin it down and put it into words.

But I have been listening to a lot of music. And I have been getting angry about things, which I combat by escaping into music or, if I’m really lucky, into sleep.

It’s Black Friday today, so here’s a brilliant song to mark this sorry occasion.

Director: Oscar J Ryan Production Company: Head & Wrecker EP: Ash Teague Producer: Ellis Fox DOP: Emma Langguth AD: Dave Neale Editor: Beth Roberts Colourist: Jules Willeman Online: James Bradley 1st AC: Davide Scalenghe 2nd AC: Matthew Hollis Camera Trainee: Ben Keeling Sound Op: Charlie Hinde Gaffer: Kian Altmann Spark: Will Jensen Art Director: Annie Harmenston Runner: Freddie Reeve BTS: Daniel Bailey Graphics: Studio 108 Cast: Sean Ryan, Pete Howard, Jack Horwood

Music in this video

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Song

Enough is Never Enough

Artist

The Clockworks

Album

Enough is Never Enough

Licensed to YouTube by

The Orchard Music (on behalf of Creation 23), and 3 Music Rights Societies

Lyrics:

Lyrics:

It was a Tuesday And it was… bleak

Torn from the wreckage of a broken home

Only knows the love that he was shown

He barges into the Café he owns

To bark marching orders

At poor Kitchen Porters.

Fresh from the microwave,

A sandwich, thrown on a chipped plate

The kitchen is in a state,

There’s no need for pruning

When business is blooming

And his grandmother was a proud Filipino

Slips his mind as he

Dips his vote Into the world of a well known racist

Who explains it all in words he knows

These fingers were made for pointing

And enough is never enough

The busker boy’s chasing the dream

By the beggar with the card machine

And passing by the suit and tie wont cast an eye

Too fixated on a screen

And blessed are the meek I’ve heard them say but honestly

There’s no romance in poverty

When dinner is a novelty

And these fingers were made for pointing

And enough is never enough

Trudging Galway streets alone I can’t help thinking, not to blame, Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone

It’s with O’ Leary on the plane

And everybody loves to bitch

Factions speak louder than herds

When rags to riches

Turns wags to witches

Fine feathers don’t make fine birds

These fingers were made for pointing.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


After being told repeatedly how much I would love this book (“it has trees in it, you have to read it”) I can now confirm that I do indeed love this book, which tells its human stories alongside the trees that featured in their lives. I did find it distressing at times (I almost cried when the Giant Redwood got cut down), and had to deal with a fair amount of anger and frustration along the way. This is one novel I really did feel.

Not all the storylines were equally compelling and I did find myself skimming bits, so for that reason I think it would get 4 and a half stars if I could work out how to do halves! But it was mostly a gripping read, packed with beautiful descriptions and observations, with the trees as much the stars of the show as the people, and the paths of humans and trees cleverly interwoven. I still think about it almost every day, especially the central theme, which is why so many people blindly uphold a status quo, and what drives the people who stand up against it. An important question now more than ever.



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Double bill in homage to COP26

The Future’s Not What it Used to Be -The King Blues

Provided to YouTube by Pias UK Limited The Future’s Not What it Used to Be · The King Blues Punk & Poetry ℗ 2011 Transmission Recordings ℗ 2011 Transmission Recordings ltd / V2 Benelux ℗ Transmission Recordings Released on: 2011-04-18 Mixer: Peter Miles Producer: Peter Miles Composer: Jonny Itch Fox Lyricist: Jonny Itch Fox

Well outside on the street at 5am you know the world has a different face
And at dawn in the park as the sunbeams break, the drunks sing amazing grace
While the ladies of the night take flight as a big bright light comes crashing down
You and I put the world to rights, in this forgotten little part of town
Well I heard that they say that the traffic wardens dances dick van Dyke does
Throwing shapes around parking meters, to adored rapturous applause
Singing 5 part harmonies and jumping over cars while others dare to sleep
With this city is my playground, yeah my circus is my street
Singing now, woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light
Woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light
When they came to collect the names of the lads who want to sign up for the army
They said they wanna grow up to be a G, gave up on trying be like dad the sparky
Why run around 360, like a dog chasing his tail
Or the schoolgirls dressed like hookers, the hookers dressed like schoolgirls
Singing now, woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light
Woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light
Killing and drilling, well it’s all they understand
In the Middle East and Afghanistan
They fight over turf, they fight over land
If you give them a ting-a-ling
While their trigger finger lingers
With the second gun slingers
They fight over that
There’s no unity, just to you and and me
Trying to keep our head above the lunacy
It’s just the way we’re living
And we will never give in
To this -ism schism prison
That all men and women live in
They war over guns, they war over god
War over land and they war over drugs
They war, they war, they war over love
War over which god watches from above
They war over oil, they war over race
Some of them are warring just to save face
They war, they war, they war over debt
If it’s a war they want, it’s a war they’ll get
Singing now, woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light
Woah the future’s not what it used to be
So will the last one out please turn off the light, turn off the light

Genius.com: https://genius.com/The-king-blues-the-futures-not-what-it-used-to-be-lyrics

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group Ocean to Ocean · Tori Amos Ocean to Ocean ℗ A Decca Records Recording; ℗ 2021 Tori Amos, under exclusive licence to Universal Music Operations Limited Released on: 2021-10-29 Producer, Associated Performer, Hammond B3, Keyboards, Piano, Rhodes, Vocals, Wurlitzer electric piano: Tori Amos Studio Personnel, Mixer, Recording Engineer, Associated Performer, Guitar: Mark Hawley Studio Personnel, Mixer: Adrian Hall Associated Performer, Bass, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Jon Evans Associated Performer, Drums, Percussion, Studio Personnel, Recording Engineer: Matt Chamberlain Studio Personnel, Asst. Recording Engineer: Adam Spry Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Jon Astley Studio Personnel, Mastering Engineer: Miles Showell Composer Lyricist: Tori Amos

Ocean to Ocean – Tori Amos

Ocean to ocean, tales of the sea
Tales deeply troubling

Stay with me until we
Unravel this fishing net

Ocean to ocean, queen of the sea
Warning of these needless killings

Stay with me until we
Unravel this fishing net

There are those who don’t give a goddamn
That we’re near mass extinction
There are those who never give a goddamn
For anything that they are breaking
There are those who only give a goddamn
For the profit that they’re making

Ocean to ocean, where have I been?
While all of this has been escalating

There is a way out of this
There is a way out of this

There are those who don’t give a goddamn
That we’re near mass extinction
There are those who never give a goddamn
For anything that they are breaking
There are those who only give a goddamn
For the profit that they’re making

Stay with me until we
Unravel this fishing net
Stay with me, stay with me

Faith, where have you gone?
Gone nature’s sons
Faith, will you return?
Return nature’s sons

To ocean to ocean
To ocean to ocean
To ocean to ocean

AZ Lyrics: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/toriamos/oceantoocean.html

The madness outside and frustrations within

I have been staying away from the news, to protect my mental health, but I flicked absentmindedly onto the BBC News website just now and got sucked in again. Apparently Labour have now drawn level with the Tories in the polls. Well, they might have done. One poll suggests it, though it remains very close. I initially felt pleased and relieved but then despair set in. How on earth could it still be so close? This is the worst government we have ever had, and that is not an exaggeration. Corrupt, incompetent, and murderously negligent. People are dead, lives are ruined. And they don’t give a toss. I now know why. They don’t give a toss because they don’t have to. Loads of people keep voting for them anyway, despite it all. It blows my mind.

And of course COP26 is underway. All those delegates, but no citizen voice (not inside anyway), some mealy mouthed promises. I know negotiations are hard. I know compromise is usually a thing I advocate for. But this is too big and too urgent for caution and compromise. We need big, bold leadership. I am sad to say that Prince Charles, with his talk of us needing to be on a “war footing” and Joanna Lumley, talking about rationing, are the ones who are talking sense. This is a bigger catastrophe than the second world war. More people will die. The damage will be longer lasting and irreplaceable (and more will be lost than human lives). What intrigues and depresses me is that those who talk bullshit about the “good old days” of WW2 (yeah, millions of dead, what wondrous times….) are the first to complain at any mention of ‘make do and mend’, or rationing, or trading their car in for a bicycle.

I can sense I am getting pissy here. I am in a bad mood and it’s spilling into my blog. I started a new job last week. In some ways it’s great. The people are lovely and I have of course already spent a great deal of time chatting, which is how you find out about people and find out what’s going on. But of course the doubts crowd in. Imposter syndrome can be a killer. It’s a higher level job than I’ve been in before. I am in charge of lots of stuff, and a lot of it I don’t understand. I try to read documents that will explain what’s going on, but I can’t focus, and I just get more confused. I am going to have to ask someone. If someone can explain it verbally then I have a chance of understanding.

I left a job I loved, which played to my strengths more than any job I have ever had. So I have left the safety of that and thrown myself into a new situation. Why? Mainly to stop my commute. I was driving for almost two hours a day just to get myself to and from work. Public transport wouldn’t get me there in time so I had to drive. Me on my own in a petrol car. I just couldn’t live with the guilt of that anymore. I had been promising myself for four years that if a suitable job came up nearer home I would take it. I now have a job where I can realistically walk to work once a week, and cycle on another two. And, above all, I can get the kids to school in the morning without getting us up way too early to race to breakfast club before my commute.

But the kids honestly don’t seem to give a shit. And we are still rushed and stressed and grouchy in the mornings, just as we were before. And for all my efforts at cutting down my carbon footprint, I still have to drive two days a week because there are multiple locations, I can’t afford an electric car, and I finally caved in and put the heating on. We’re not even into the second half of November. So I continue to be part of the problem.

But what to do?

I am not parenting my kids very well at all. I am doing better than their dad who is a shouty disciplinarian, but I am the opposite end. My permissive parenting helps my younger son to grow, but my older son just becomes naughty and obliterates all boundaries, so I find myself, at wits end, becoming like their father. There must be ways. There must be strategies and things that I can do to make it work. But nothing I do works. He seems to want boundaries to push against and fights, physical and verbal. Or maybe he expects them, because that’s what he gets from his dad. But that still doesn’t tell me what I should do. Every night last week I fell asleep with a book about parenting autistic children in my hands. I have given up on it now, only five pages in.

I am trying to learn about all this. About neurodiversity (my own, my son’s, and other people’s) and how to create a safe, enabling environment. But all that has happened so far is that I’ve waded into a row on facebook about Gabor Maté (because as far as I can see everyone either adores him like he’s Jesus and he can do no wrong, or despises him like he’s the devil and his books should be banned). One friend of mine begged me to read ‘Scattered Minds’ because it changed her life and outlook for the better. Another said it made her so angry she still gets stressed thinking about it. Of the two of them it’s the latter person whose opinion generally carries more weight with me, so I am approaching the book with trepidation. But I cannot comment on the disagreement until I have read the book. I always say to students “go to the original source and make up your own mind”.

The book remains on my bedside table, along with a big chunky novel someone recommended, and both are unopened. Being at work every day and doing a job is the hardest, most challenging thing. It drains every bit of intelligence, energy, optimism, patience and goodwill out of me, which is utterly ridiculous. It’s not even a hard job. But I have nothing left for the evenings except to do the bare minimum: cook, provide the kids with clean clothes, get them to swimming class and back, go for a cold, soggy wander in the woods with them, sit at the kitchen table clutching a large coffee while they colour and stick stuff.

And when my son, seemingly unprovoked, tells me he wishes I was dead or suddenly leaps across the table to punch his brother hard in the face, all I do is yell and tell him to sit on the stairs until he’s calmed down. I’ve done years of listening and explaining and it made no difference. So shout is all my fractured, drained, impulsive, hurt self can manage in that moment. I know I am doing it wrong. I know I am falling short. But it keeps on happening.

I don’t have the time or headspace to do the thing that would rescue me (read novels) or the thing that I have an obligation to do (read Gabor Maté) or the thing that is crucial above all else (learn how to understand and parent my older son before I ruin his life).

So I run out of time, I run out of patience, life runs away from me, life runs away with me. And I feel really, really shit about it.

The End.

EDIT: Since writing this I have spent 4 hours watching gigs on YouTube (REM, Green Day, Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls). The dopamine in my system now is wild. I feel like I could conquer the world. I know it will all be gone by tomorrow, which is why I don’t want to go to sleep.

And I am still none the wiser about Gabor Maté. Or my son.

How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the only book I have ever read that actually rings true to my own experience as a woman. I came of age in the Bridget Jones era, where everyone was saying how relatable those books were and I was thinking ‘um…no’, so to read this was a revelation.

I am so totally in love with this book because it’s so true, and so accurate and so right. The chapters on hair and fat are particularly wonderful. Her perceptive analysis of binge eating is something that really hit home. But there is so much in it, weaving the personal and political and cultural, and hitting targets with pinpoint accuracy. The style is so chatty and light that when those observational gems jump out and hit you, their power takes the breath away.

Also, being me, I was interested in her biographical bits about the music industry (gotta find out who Courtney was…). The laddishness of Britpop came rushing back to me and reminded me all over again why I wasn’t keen on it at the time. And all the stuff about making up relationships in your head… to be honest I thought this was a weird ADHD thing but maybe it isn’t. Of course, if I had talked to neurotypical women more then maybe I would have known that. But we don’t talk about the stuff that matters, as Moran points out a few times in this book.

The writing isn’t flawless, and there were occasions where the style grated on me a little, but this is one of those situations where the experience and the insight, packaged in spiky humour and sharp observation, overwhelm any possible downsides. It is a good book in terms of writing. It is a great book in terms of importance. And that earns it four stars from me.

And also, having read some of the criticism levelled from other reviewers, I can see why I like it so much. I isn’t meant to be a big serious book about feminism, it’s simply one woman’s take on what it is like to be a woman in this day and age in this culture. It never claims to be anything else. And yes, I probably relate to it so much because the writer is similar to me in terms of age, background, experience, taste, culture etc. (though obviously she is waaaaaay cooler). Others reading it and looking for themselves and their experience in it may find some bits don’t relate to them. That’s fine -go and write your own book about your experience of being a woman. I might even read it and broaden my understanding. I also suspect that her worldview (that we are often becoming a little too divided by our ‘identities’, when essentially we all just want to be one of the same human family) is currently out of fashion, though it’s one I wholeheartedly share.

I am definitely keeping a copy on my shelves for my sons to read when they’re a bit older.



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The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really love the concept of this book, of giving life to the women who are overlooked in favour of their killer, and it didn’t let me (or them) down. A really fascinating and moving account of the lives of these five women, showing the ups and downs, and just how quickly and easily they slipped down from safe, respectable lives. All that manual work, childbearing, losing children and parents and lovers to various deaths. It would break anybody.

It is a well researched and beautifully told account of what a society is like with no safety net (and we are heading rapidly back there folks so this is our future as well as our past) but the women are also fleshed out to be the frustrating, mysterious, contradictory people that they were, not the simply depicted prostitutes and fallen women the press of the time called them.

I have only bumped this down from five to four stars for one reason. The author’s irritating habit of saying “she MUST have felt…” and “it MUST have been a factor…”. These are real people and this is real history so I don’t like the use of ‘must’. You can say “she may have felt….” and “it may have meant she….” instead. I know it sounds like a really petty reason but once I noticed it it really bothered me!



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Life of Pi – Yann Martel

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


This book started really well, with interesting characters and some lovely observations. Then it all went downhill. Down a steep hill, if I’m honest.

From the shipwreck onwards this book is pretentious, smug and bone achingly boring. It’s not a very long book but it took me ages to read it. I even gave up twice and came back to it, plodding on towards the equally dull ending.



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Low Hummer – Take Arms

It’s been a while since a support act actually grabbed me enough for me to 1) think ‘I definitely want to download their music when I get home’ and 2) actually remember to do it. Well, Low Hummer definitely made enough of an impression for me to manage two out of two. All their songs are good but this one particularly appealed to me (“Are you a Northerner Pretending to be Southern?” -LOL, I guess I am, but what do you want me to do about it? Take Arms, you say? Erm…. not sure about that TBH, but I like your song.)

Take Arms
Low Hummer

For all the northerners pretending to be southern,
TAKE ARMS!
All the business class still living with your mothers,
TAKE ARMS!
All the billionaires that don’t believe in sharing,
TAKE ARMS!
Now all the single parents scrounge to make a living,
TAKE ARMS!

I don’t want us to be friends
I just want a little piece of mind
You always said we’re too young to be loved,
Well now I’m too old to judge,
You seem to think we’ll jump when you jump,
My father said enough is enough,
Instead we’ll all get drunk til we drop,
Escape the bores of the job,
Our way of saying
I won’t take it, I won’t take it, I won’t take it, I won’t take it

Do you think there’s Southerners who wish that they were Northern?
Cos we’re all weekend zombies drinking through the boredom
Is this the modern age that we all live in?
TAKE ARMS! TAKE ARMS!

I don’t want you to hate me
I just want a little piece of mind
You always said we’re too young to be loved,
Well now it looks like death from above
You seem to think we’ll jump when you jump,
My sister said enough is enough,
Instead we’ll all get drunk til we drop,
Escape the bores of the job,
Our way of saying
I won’t take it,
I won’t take it,
I won’t take it,
I won’t take it.

Writer/s: Daniel Mawer

Lyrics from here: https://www.cancioneros.com/lyrics/song/2603899/take-arms-low-hummer

Nick Hornby – State of the Union

State of the Union: A Marriage in Ten Parts by Nick Hornby

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


There were a couple of good moments of stinging observation (though, only two weeks after I finished it I have forgotten what they were…), but otherwise I found this to be a bit flat and strangely unconvincing. The dialogue seemed too deliberate and unreal somehow, and I found the characters pretty unsympathetic (weirdly, as I have been though a similar experience to them).

A solid, OK read, but nothing remarkable.



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