Monday, October 29, 2007

Made To Realise

The dainty surroundings of Bristol’s beatific Saint George’s Hall gently and tastefully hosted Iron & Wine last evening. From my vaguely uncomfortable seat, three rows back, I appreciated the fine and studied musicianship of Sam Beam and his comrades (including, if I’m correct, the slide-guitarist from the mighty and splendid Calexico) and, at times, marvelled at the sumptuous soundscapes the eight-piece, underpinned by a splendid percussion collective, mustered. The songs were tender and gently melancholic but a tad one-paced for my liking; the folksy tones and whispered vocals remained pleasant enough throughout but the mighty and near orchestral clamour that soared through the aisles when the band really hit top gear came not often enough. I bought an Iron & Wine shopping bag afterwards; My Bloody Valentine never used to offer punters such a product.

I’ve suffered a migraine today, the first since the summer.

I do relish political memoirs written either from the perspective of the politician or the journalist and I am racing through Jon Snow’s account of a fascinating career at the moment. Shooting History has, thus far, taught me plenty about various episodes that I was either too young or, I’m ashamed to confess, too ambivalent to engage with at the time. His account of the varied conflicts within Central America during the Reagan era has proved fascinating while the sections examining the role of the papacy on world politics (and vice versa) are truly disturbing but not in the least surprising. His love affair with Africa and, in particular, Uganda is vibrantly described. The book is written with a moving emotionality; the author is often witnessing history behind tear-filled eyes and it is obvious that much that he has reported continues to influence, affect and haunt him. It’s a compelling read. I would place it alongside John Simpson’s Strange Places, Questionable People as a benchmark for quality writing about foreign news. John Sergeant’s Give Me Ten Seconds is my favoured tome that focuses mainly on domestic matters.

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