Amy lay in bed musing waiting for the screen wake-up call, If I’d completed that course maybe I’d be socially mobile now, even qualified for a baby and a flat. Amy and her best friends had stopped attending the Societal Upgrade Course when it began interfering with their social life. One by one these friends had become untraceable, their screen access replaced by a statement that they had been selected for relocation upgrades on becoming a special case. Amy, now alone, wished that she qualified for a relocation upgrade. A release from her dreary social commitment at which she only met someone from her previous social circle when they weren’t able to avoid her. They always had a reason for not keeping in contact — even on their screen. Acquaintances now socially mobile living in upper grade socio-economic residential areas, or those living in a four roomed flat with a child and a partner. The independent life she had once led in her own bedsit, like her best friends, had gone. It was now her refuge from the social commitment, her social life now lived vicariously through the screen.
At our monthly pie and a pint meeting, my friend and I discuss — amongst other things — books, creative writing, writing groups, the internet environment, critiquing and quality in writing. A couple of years ago he lent me a book by Robert Rankin, my initial reaction to Rankin was that his books were badly written in that they were grammatically incorrect (in modern grammar usage I’m no longer sure that’s true). On reflection I concluded that I was wrong about Rankin, some people, my friend included, find a quality in his works.
So why should literature be any different from other art forms? Why should literature be bound by any rules, if the style in which someone has chosen to write pleases someone else? My grandchildren can read and write … in common with Chester’s Josie. Their Facebook entries are hardly quality prose … then, perhaps, a clue may be found in Mallory Ortberg’s Texts From Jane Eyre. Of course there are constraints like: ‘Did I enjoy reading it?’ and somewhere in this enjoyment, either consciously or unconsciously, there is an assessment of quality. That abstract and personal assessment, which always sends me back to Zen and the 17th Chapter.
Thomas Gresham had served three Tudor monarchs as their Royal Merchant¹ in Antwerp and had grown rich acting on their behalf. However, his success in arranging England’s financial transactions with bankers and money lenders was not always favourably received. It had also made him enemies in both financial and political circles. Some believed that he would often quite deliberately manipulate the money markets — cleverly duping them in his games of thimblerig² — disadvantaging them financially and often politically. Knowing that his activities in Antwerp and elsewhere had made him these enemies, Gresham had an awareness of danger when confronted by it. This was obviously no chance encounter with a stranger who called himself Frances Walsingham. Not only had he identified Gresham in the crowded Antwerp bourse, he had addressed him by name and acknowledged by name his two factors Clough and Spritwell. The significance of this was not lost on Gresham nor was Walsingham’s demeanour, which was that of a dangerous man who it would be unwise to cross. Hoping that his alarm was not apparent, Gresham enquired if he could be of any assistance. Speaking in a low voice, almost a whisper, Walsingham told Gresham that he was under instructions to deliver a message to him only and that they should find somewhere quiet where they be could be certain of privacy. Read more of this post
Yet another difficult month for making choices, the discussion helped in making me think a lot about how difficult it must be to co-ordinate this group and especially to ‘score’ the contributions. I try to group the entries (romance, drama, etc) but this isn’t easy as such simplification doesn’t necessarily provide the key to what may be the contributor’s intent. Read more of this post
Between late 1938 and July 1942, my twin brother, Abraham Francisco Hubsch, wrote to me at least once a fortnight from Paris. Our ambition was to study together at l’École de Paris, but we agreed that one of us should stay in Santa Cruz de la Sierra with Mama. Being Marrano was just family history which, to us both, could have no relevance in this day and age. We should have listened to Mama, history does have a way of repeating itself. Here are five letters written by Abraham between 1939 and his disappearance in 1942.
Miguel Ariel Hubsch
Some three years ago I wrote the post Machismo and the modern man, this was a commentary on the emasculation of the modern male and a masculine response. There was a strong connection with Australia (Oz), particularly the influence of Germaine Greer. Ms Greer is a chicken come home to roost so to speak, possibly the repatriated progeny born of colonists transported for their disruption to the harmonious order of society. Yet it’s to the men of Oz that we should express our gratitude. They have responded to this ’emasculation’ by creating a shed culture for the alpha male. Read more of this post
My choice has become one of personal preference, in effect which stories gave me the most reading pleasure. That is not to say that the other stories were not an enjoyable read, but I had to make a choice. One that was not made on the quality and presentation of a story, that would have meant too many choices, and so my list is heavily biased. Read more of this post
When I first began blogging on My Telegraph there seemed to be a continual cry of, OH NO! Not another blog on blogging! My search for a ‘decent’ site had led me there and having lurked off stage – so to speak – I decided to blog there, beginning with non-controversial blogs. I thought the site often treated newcomers in a very unfriendly manner, certainly not in any way that could be termed ‘an honest critique’ of their blog content or its presentation.
Some five or more years later, the world has moved on. Amateur bloggers like myself who now know how the professional media have commandeered the internet – if they’re wise – have given up any delusions of grandeur that they may have held, or are captives of that media. Still, blogging does give voice to the ‘common man’ (I’m sure you ladies know my intent) and both the professional media and amateur bloggers are learning to use ‘blogs’ effectively. So! Cue Aaron Copland and Fanfare for the Common Man (article). Read more of this post
Der Spiegel reported in May 2010 that without bribes virtually no foreign company could do business in Greece. In How German Companies Bribed Their Way to Greek Deals, Der Speigel claimed that the money from bribery enriched industrialists, civil servants, the military and politicians. Read more of this post
Once a month I meet up with a friend and ex-colleague for a pub lunch, he is recovering from an operation and I remarked how well he looked. It seems that I was the first one to say so everyone else was saying that he looked poorly, but then perhaps they have not heard of or don’t remember that famous Stanley Holloway monologue ‘My Word You Do Look Queer’! Stanley Holloway made this 1922 music hall piece popular some thirty years after the following recording. Read more of this post