Probably the most interesting, significant and readable book that I’ve read in the last decade or so is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s fairly hefty at 500 odd pages but even so I’ve read it throughout twice and have listened to the book on CD version also, I like to listen in bed in the early hours. When I acquired the CD’s I inadvertently loaded them into my computer which resulted in them being installed into iTunes and consequently whenever I listen to iTunes on shuffle I get an occasional chapter on some aspect of the history of science sandwidged between Dylan and whoever. I don’t mind that one bit.
He’s a fabulous humorous writer with enormous curiosity which he uses to investigate and explain basically the history of almost everything we know and how and when we discovered it.
I’ve always loved the way he begins the book, by describing us in a most unique but totally complete fashion, I just found that introduction at youtube and I’d like to share it with you; it’s well worth the listen.

Car’tune Co’mic

jesus-and-mary-twinsSo I hope everyone has seen this site before – it’s why the internet was invented according to barbryn and I:

I have nine days left to finish a massive bit of artwork for a major (the major) exhibition of the year around these parts – so what better use of my time – than knuckling down and … and .. and

….faffing about with comic strips.

Monkey gone to Hoobes

Question is, what would you merge?
Does Eeyore pick up the mic and sing Cohen?
Does Andy Capp sing AC/DC?

Give us your wish list
if it’s a bit more obscure show me some links -
‘spill pints for creativity.
Tank Girl has got to work with Kenickie lyrics, right?

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A Rum Do….

illustration by RANTaGHOST
Dear Webcore, to wish you a very Happy 60th Birthday, here’s a long short story written to a secret formula by a team of your fellow Recommenders. We hope you don’t mind making an exception to your non-fiction habit, seeing as it’s such a special occasion. The RR writers’ workshop takes strange delight in presenting:


DV Valentino, propelled by a whirl of thoughts, turned and beckoned to his legs, urging them to please keep up. Two steady elements – his non-beckoning hand holding the flat bottle in his pocket, a little more firmly as he crossed the bridge with its view of the drop between the iron railings; and directions committed to memory as he turned right at the bridge end and the river’s murmur emerged from the receding traffic noise. The river reflected muscovado in the last drops of sunset and the early fizz of street lamps. There was a party of special things to do. Continue reading

Your literary questions…..answered!

As you may remember I asked for your questions for a literary podcast I was producing, fab responses from the Spilliverse, which I printed off and took with me to the recording. There wasn’t time as part of the actual podcast to get the presenter to pitch them in, but I took a quick few minutes to road-test them afterwards (hence the background crowd noise)  with the author Russel D McLean, who is a Dundee based crime writer, who has had four successful books out, and is working on the fifth. Russel only had a scant few minutes before he had to rush off to the next engagement so we nipped through ‘em sharpish, skipping any questions that may have warranted a long answer (time constraints, soz if I skipped your question). So, here are your literary questions…..answered!!

This was lots of fun, thanks guys, hopefully it will evolve further, with your help.


Literary Help Needed!

Good day to you fair ‘Spillers – I’m hoping to pick your gigantic communal brain on literary matters. I am about to start producing literary podcasts for a client, and need your help please. The podcasts will have a basic format where an author reads and is interviewed and takes questions from an audience. All well and good and quite straight forward. What I quite like the idea of is the same five awesome/bizarre/funny/deep questions being asked of the different authors, kinda like an EOTWQ with a literary bent, which I think would add up to an interesting feature – and this is where I need your help please!

If you can put your amazing questions in the comments I will be most incredibly grateful – no such thing as a bad question! Thank you so much!

zanxeo and the gorilla’s gold

1 Always Gold Radical Face
2 Gold For The Price Of Silver (Erot Collaboration) Kings Of Convenience
3 Inside The Golden Days Of Missing You Silver Jews
4 Gold Sol Seppy
5 Gold Mine Gutted (Her Space Holiday MIx) Bright Eyes


1 Black Gold Foals
2 Cream of Gold_mix2 Astrid Swan
3 Realms Of Gold Hopewell
4 The Golden Boy Parov Stelar
5 Solid Gold The Golden Filter
1 Calypso Gold Princeton
2 Turn It Gold (Derek Allen Remix) Hestra Prynn
3 Gold In The Fire (We Have Band Remix) Monarchy
4 Gold, Tan, Peach, And Grey Bodies Of Water
5 Attack on Golden Mountain Subrosa
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Readers ! Please recommend !

OK, so I’ve got a couple of weeks window to read whatever I want, before hitting the linguistics textbooks again.

I’m looking for some decent music related books. Anything’s OK really, biography or music related. I’ve just read a book on Joe Strummer and the Clash by Kris Needs (pretty good, conjured up the smells and sounds of the times, maybe a tad fawning), finally finished the book on Bowie that goes through every song he ever recorded (pleasingly anal and detailed, with plenty of social comment, but there seemed to be some kind of copyright restriction on quoting lyrics, as there were hardly any and loads of boring musical descriptions, which was really annoying) and “31 Songs” by Nick Hornby, which was probably the worst book on music I have ever read. It was very sad to see the man who wrote the inspirational record nerd bible “Hi-Fidelity” reduced to a moaning, middle-aged, bore, complaining about the state of modern music.

So, some recommendations would be very much appreciated, you know what kind of things I like !

Jane Austen’s iPod

How about this for a new game? Some time before Christmas, while driving home, I stumbled across a Radio 4 programme called Thomas Hardy’s iPod. Aha, I thought, lots of Smiths songs, and maybe that “It’s a wonderful, wonderful life…” number. Unfortunately the creators of the programme had decided to be all po-faced and historical about it, so all the music was authentic period stuff that Hardy probably did actually listen to, and very dull it was too. I think my idea is much better: suggest songs, from any genre or era, that would suit a particular historical figure, and offer some justification. If this gets any sort of response, someone can then volunteer to suggest a new figure (who doesn’t have to be literary) next week.

Just to kick things off, something suitably ironic:

BOOKS etc.

Well since we seem to be going off-topic a bit these days , here’s another and if we have to use categories, lets call this one ‘books’, subcategory; ‘Egyptology’. Actually we don’t have books so it becomes ‘literature’.
I don’t want to make this a book review except to say that it all started when I recently read ‘Cleopatra’ by Stacy Schiff, a wonderful book recommended to all even if you think you’re not interested in history, Egypt or biographies. In a sentence, Cleopatra was fantastic, starting at age 18 she ruled the known world and dealt intimately with Mark Antony, Julius Caesar and the Roman empire, but that’s not what this is about. That book triggered another Cleopatra biography which I’m now reading, in it there was a one-line reference to the ‘SAITE CANAL’, ring any bells? Thought not, I’d never heard of it either. In ancient Egypt it ran from the Nile due east to the Red sea, [look at the map above to see what was involved] it predated the Suez canal by several thousand years! It was built in the Ptolomaic period to give the Egyptians sea access to India, they grew huge quantities of grain and they traded it with India; ’til the canal they’d used camels to ship it to the Red Sea and thence by ship.
Herodotus the 5th century BC Greek historian travelled the canal and writes about it, it’s not a secret, but I’ve been interested in Egypt all my life and I only just found out about it! I found out about it by googling that one reference, ‘Saite canal’, there’s not a huge amount there but there’s enough, there’s reports of archaeological research to locate where the canal was located and theories as to why mother nature redeemed it. I’m just amazed by this find, to me it’s as significant as the Pyramids at Cheops and no-one has heard about it, anybody here know more about it or are interested? Any other significant book finds to report?

The Spill Awards 2010

So, here we are again. I do seem to recall being in a slightly more cheerful and optimistic mood this time last year – can’t remember why, but it did make it easier to think of some humourous mock awards to scatter amongst the genuine categories. Still, this year I can at least offer you an all-singing, all-dancing extravanganza, with added Phil Collins (whenever I feel the urge to flee the country, I keep repeating to myself, “Yes, but do you really want to be another Phil Collins?”). First, however, the usual cornucopia of recommendations for Book of the Year, in case anyone gave you book tokens for Christmas; if not, you can always play Guess the Recommender…

David Abram, Becoming Animal
Michael Connolly, The Reversal
Jenny Erpenbeck, Heimsuchung
Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals
Tim Harford, Dear Undercover Economist
Peter Heather, Empires and Barbarians
Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna
Andrea Levey, The Long Song
David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

And now for the main event, the Villains, Heroes, Films and Albums of the year, I give you…

Dan Le Sac v Scroobius Pip

I went to see this strangely monikered duo last night in Brighton and it’s stayed with me so I’m posting a rare spillage in homage. Sold out last April much to my disappointment I made sure tickets were purchased way in advance this time around. They wouldn’t sell out twice in one year thought would they ? In a recession ? £14.50 a ticket ? Yes they did. I had one spare ticket, put it on Twitter, the band retweeted and I sold it to a zombie nurse outside – face value of course…

The show was awesome. Classic hip-hop set-up, but with two white guys from South London (Millwall fans actually in the case of Pip) one of whom resembles a Taleban commander. He’s the rapper, or wordsmith, because it would be a stretch to describe what he does as rapping. He’s a political poet of the old skool, spoken word merchant, and DanLe Sac’s beats place them into the hip-hop world. But their lyrical content is very fresh indeed, and very British too.

There’s another song I could have posted called Get Better, and yet another called The Beat That My Heart Skipped, yet another called Stake A Claim. Wonderful stuff ! For those who prefer content over style…..

The Richard & Julie Book Club

(Sorry, couldn’t resist that obvious pun for a title. The management wish to make it clear that, actually, DarceysMam has nothing to do with this post.)


The other week I met DaddyPig for a coffee. We had previously been discussing our choice of preferred authors, and Nick Hornby‘s name had come up. I thought Fever Pitch and High Fidelity were absolutely brilliant; both really did resonate with me. But then my admiration went into a steep decline. I thought About A Boy hinted at some rather worrying attitudes Hornby may have towards women, and I loathed How To Be Good‘s smug faux-liberalism with a passion.

Now, I’ll admit that part of my issues were in trying to square what I liked in the first two’s resemblance to myself, to what I hated about the next two, and what – by logical extension – they might say about me. But I digress … the point is that I gave Hornby one last chance with a borrowed copy of 31 Songs, and it just left me cold: no connection at all. Strange given its subject matter, but there you go.

End result? I gave up on him, and haven’t paid him any attention since.

Anyway, DaddyPig wanted to convince me that in Juliet, Naked there was something of a return to the Hornby form I had previously admired. And as he’d been given more than one copy, he presented me with a spare. Thank you very much; a lovely surprise present, but given how many unread books I have in my bedside cabinet, (including TWO Michael Connellys, goneforeign!) I was unsure when I’d get around to it. As it happened, I found myself in bed early a few nights back, next to a poorly, restless, but sleeping Darcey. I picked up Juliet, Naked a-a-a-n-n-d readitinonesitting. Blimey, it’s 2am, where did that evening go?

And yes, I liked it; I enjoyed it a lot. And the subject matter – as DP had himself pointed out – is particularly apposite for us RR/Spillers. So here’s the deal:
this was a spare copy of a book DaddyPig owns and likes. He gave it to me, I read it and I liked it.


I’ll stand for the postage, or if it’s someone I can actually hand it over to, so much the better. And wait, this offer gets better: I have spare copies of several Christopher Brookmyre novels, so I’ll put one of those in the JiffyBag too. Brookmyre is my personal auto-buy author, and I’m always (if sometimes wrongly – again looking at and apologising to you, goneforeign!) looking to recommend him to people.

Book/author sharing is one of the next logical phases after music for a blog like this, surely, but I’m buggered if I’m going to try DropBoxing novel transcripts!

So, form an orderly queue, and just ask. If he’s in the ‘SpillHaus, I do have to say that ToffeeBoy has a preference voucher to cash in, as I already have a package I need to post to him.


I’ll kiss you.. you’re Beautiful.. 5 years

On Recollection De Rosa

Time for a beer .. cheers to one and all RR oddities.. for 5 full and fantastic years of quality music .. I’ve found some beauties in times past due to you lot.. but sod that .. my collection of music is considerable more tasteful than yours.. here’s a mixtape, sticking on the straight and narrow like an elephant on a giant jelly:
[Audio,,,,, The Art of the High Five The All New Adventures of Us
2 Natalie’s Party Shack
3 Francesca’s Party Baxter Dury
4 The Bell Tolls Five Peter Von Poehl
5 Anniversary The Cure
6 Birthday The Jesus & Mary Chain

1 The Party St. Vincent
2 The Birthday Song Candy Bars
3 We Are All Accelerated Readers Los Campesinos!
4 No Return Brakes
5 celebrate Miles
6 Celebrate Tony Allen

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