Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Spiegelhalters saved!

Blowing my own trumpet, and why not?

Spitalfields Life is the best London blog, written by the anonymous and self-effacing Gentle Author. It's a daily treat, and essential reading, not only for Londoners.

Here's the  selfsame Gentle Author on my (successful) campaign to preserve a plucky little East End building from some arse-brained redevelopment: Saving Spiegelhalters. She or he is typically eloquent on the history of this unique survivor, and there are plenty of great images. My thanks to him/her and those readers of Spitalfields Life who supported my campaign.

Next? Norton Folgate, a short distance to the West, is the big one. A hundred Spiegelhalters in this lovely unspoilt quarter currently under threat from acquisitive cackheads at British Land. This includes the potential loss of a truly lovely pub called The Water Poet.

I'll be blogging about all this very soon for the TLS, so shall keep my powder dry (as nobody says these days). Thanks to all - and you know who you are - for backing the campaign. This really mattered!

And (by the way) we're still campaigning as we haven't yet see the architects' revised proposals. They aim to retain the facade but remember - we want to structure listed and preserved for future generations! See the campaign website here.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day (and is there a single day of the year left which is not similarly appropriated for some good cause?). It's also Shakespeare's birthday, and St George's Day to boot.

There are, it seems, 781 million illiterate people in the world - or 'people who lack literacy' as they are more sensitively categorised. Of theses, shockingly, 32 million are in the United States.  Imagine not being able to read and write. Imagine not being able to read and write and living in the United States. I'd be interested to know what (if anything) connects that huge minority. Do they fit any demographic? Are they wholly illiterate, or simply have problems with reading and writing? Literacy of course has nothing to do with literature - it's about reading pharmacy labels or timetables or cooking instructions or public signage. It's about navigating the world, day by day.

The reason I haven't blogged at all for the past few weeks is because

a) I started a new job (which is publishing-related in that I now work for the mighty Pearson organisation, owners of Penguin Books and the Financial Times and much more). This has kept me busy, an old dog learning new tricks and

b) I've been working flat out to complete About a Girl, to be published by CB editions in September this year. This is a monograph about the author Eimear McBride and her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.

But I'm prompted by World Book Day, and more particularly by a colleague at Pearson, to offer this link to something very worthwhile:

Do take a look at Project Literacy

And for my regular readers who expect something a tad more literary on this blog here's something I learned this week: Anton Chekov had a dachshund named Quinine