Greenwood to score Murakami’s Norwegian Wood

The Axefactor

And it’s not a secret – I voted for Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood. In part a sentimental vote – my eldest son’s emulation of Greenwood earned him an A+ in his GCSE Music exam – but he also gets my vote for creativity and that IMO places him way above the other contenders.

AND (literary link coming up), he’s going to be doing the score for an adaptation of Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood. WooHoo. Seriously fantastic.

And you can read more about that in the Guardian here.


World Book Day …

Today is World Book Day – a celebration of books and reading. I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (and no I haven’t seen the film yet and as I’m still hibernating, am unlikely to see it for some time).

It’s a while since I’ve read a novel that’s gripped me quite like this one. I’m reading it at night (so it doesn’t interfere with my writing the following day).

Though it’s very dark (a boy and his father travelling on foot through a post-apocalyptic landscape) it is beautifully (very sparely) written prose and the story itself so good I’m almost ahead of them on the look-out for what or who they’re going to come across next.

As soon as I’ve finished reading this, it’s back to reviewing. I’ve got two short story collections to finish – one for The Short Review (Clifford Garstang’s In An Uncharted Country) and Andrew Michael Hurley’s The Unusual Death of Julie Christie and Other Stories). I know I’ve mentioned these on here before. I keep thinking I’m getting through them too slowly, but I’m savouring them! I’m about half way through both books now but after finishing a story I need space and time to think about them. The short form is often very rich and I want my reviews to do these stories justice.

So that’s what I’m reading on World Book Day. How about you?

[Image above: BirdScreen. Diane Becker].

How to save 6Music …

This morning BBC Trust’s chairman Sir Michael Lyons said that:

“public concern” might mean the corporation will have to “rethink” plans to axe two radio stations.

The BBC say they want to make ‘room’ for commercial alternatives to 6Music. But commercial radio doesn’t have the BBC’s live music archive – a unique resource of  sessions and interviews – an essential cultural and educational resource that enables great presenters to provide the eclectic mix of tracks and programmes heard on 6Music. Where else could I hear Nat King Cole played alongside The Pixies? This is just one of the reasons I love 6Music and want it to stay.

If you feel strongly about saving 6Music and want your opinion to count, email now to make sure it is considered in the BBC Trust’s public consultation process which ends on 25 May.

BBC Trust’s response to my email re: Save 6Music

Just had this response to my email to BBC Trust re: the closure of 6Music.

“Thank you for your email in response to the strategic review of the BBC’s services.

BBC Management have made the proposals to the BBC’s governing body, the BBC Trust. There is now a public consultation before any decisions are taken by the BBC Trust. It closes on May the 25th.

To take part in the public consultation you can visit the BBC Trust’s website at Trust. Or you can write to the BBC Trust at 180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ. There is no need to enclose a stamped addressed envelope, or you can go online to Trust.

To read the proposals in full please visit the BBC’s website at

Thank you for contacting us and we hope you will take part in the public consultation.”


BBC Complaints


6Music to be closed down …

Latest announcement from Director General of BBC Mark Thompson says that 6Music and Asian Network will be axed at end of 2011. Thompson’s review still has to be ratified by BBC Trust.

You can email them here

Me? I’m gutted.

Sign the petition to save 6Music

Some of you may have read my previous post about the possible demise – if the BBC Trust get their way – of 6Music.

If you want to hear more new music, ground-breaking talent, brilliant archive and live sessions, excellent indie front-men/women (as someone called them!) such as Jon Richardson, Stuart Maconie, Adam & Joe, Lauren Laverne, Shaun Keaveney, Craig Charles, Jarvis Cocker, Guy Garvey (from Elbow) and more … don’t sit and moan about it, visit and sign the petition, or click the link here.

As soon as you can. Please.

Thaw: a new novel by Fiona Robyn

Ruth’s diary is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth’s first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow at

These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat – books you have to take in both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about – princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.

I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say, ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for,’ before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun.

Continue reading at