Simply messing around in books




First up, congratulations to A.S. Patric who has won Australia’s major prize, the Miles Franklin, for Black Rock White City, which we reviewed here:

And  three cheers for Patric’s publisher, the small independent Transit Lounge. Although he’s a prize-winning short-story writer, the major publishers wouldn’t even read his book because they thought it wasn’t marketable.

Here’s some other interesting stuff we’ve come across:

Did you know that Oscar Wilde’s father Sir William Wilde was not only a surgeon, scientist and Celtic historian, archaeologist, ethnologist and travel writer, but a serial philanderer who was accused in 1864 of raping one of his patients? And that his bluestocking mother Jane was a campaigner for women’s rights and Irish independence, a poet who translated poetry from Latin, Greek, Russian, French, German and Italian, and was almost tried for treason?

Philip Adams discussed this fascinating book with Emer O’Sullivan on Late Night Live

Emer O’Sullivan The Fall Of The House Of Wilde (Bloomsbury 2106)



And another one from Phil:

Ben Wright  Order! Order! The  Rise and Fall of Political Drinking (Duckworth Overlook)

Under Westminster Rules, you can’t accuse a Member of the House of being drunk. How things have changed since the days of Sir Francis Dashwood, Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1762, reviver of the Hellfire Club, who used to take senior politicians off  to drunken orgies in monasteries, where they dressed up as nuns.

Winston Churchill used to start the day with white wine for breakfast, followed by a weak whisky and soda (or two, or three), champagne for lunch and dinner, and more whisky and soda after dinner. Richard Nixon is said to have ordered a nuclear strike on North Korea when he was drunk. How sober politicians are these days. As Ben Wright says,

Even until the early 20th century…a Prime Minister could still doze through the afternoon after a heavy lunch, read the papers in his Pall mall club, and drift back to Downing St at some point later in the afternoon…Any politician now trying to ape their antics and live like their political ancestors simply couldn’t get away with it.

Denis Thatcher had a whole vocabulary to describe drinks:  an opener, a  brightener, a lifter, a tincture, a large gin and tonic without the tonic, a snifter, a snort, a snorter, a snorterino. It’s nice to think of Margaret and Denis having a snorterino together after a hard day’s work governing and golfing.

There are lots of good stories here, but sad ones too, like the story of the former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy’s alcohol-related early death. And Boris Johnson gets a mention. He might be the one who revives the grand old tradition of alcohol-fuelled insults at diplomatic gatherings.




8 thoughts on “Simply messing around in books

  1. The Ben Wright sounds like a veritable treasure trove of anecdotes. I can think of a few people who would be interested in this one. Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. The thoughts of Nixon pushing the button while drunk, is scary. Now we have to worry if these guys are high on dope.
    A snorterino sounds like a music convention called a Sonatina. I have a book full of Sonatinas. I like Sonatinas.

    1. Apparently Trump is a teetotaler — no drink, no drugs. Pretty sure that among all of the things that Hillary has been accused of, that’s not one of them. There are other reasons to be concerned about Trump’s thumb on the nuclear button, of course.

  3. This being human is certainly a messy business.

    So interesting to read about the details. Your book reviews always are so top notch and well chosen. You introduce me to writers and material I would not have encountered otherwise. I’m definitely looking forward to reading Late Night Live.

    Thank you. 🐞

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