Returned from the beautiful Wiltshire town of Malmesbury, where I spoke at the Philosophytown Festival, much expanded from my previous visit and covering much more ground. Michael Cuthbert and his team of volunteers have produced something of great worth here - it's a very low-key affair and all the better for it. Mark Vernon, who lectured on 'The Good Life' according to the ancient Greeks, is an excellent speaker and I should search out some of his books - unlike me, he didn't bring his books along to sell.
I have to confess that I wasn't very impressed by the Syd Arthur concert in Brighton a couple of weeks ago. For once, I probably was the oldest person there - very young and enthusiastic crowd, but I just couldn't get excited about the music I was hearing. Their much-vaunted 'Canterbury Scene' sound' (one of my favourite genres) was conspicuous by its absence in my opinion, although one member played multiple instruments a la Geoffrey Richardson in Caravan - for some reason the music of Dave Brubeck kept popping into my head. Incidentally, one group from that period who I never heard at the time was Egg who made some very interesting music, as I've discovered recently. A very late arrival home marred by train delays made me question the wisdom of travelling quite so far to concerts.
Another recent arrival in the now hugely overcrowded world of underground London books is Subterranean London compiled by intrepid urban explorer and academic Bradley Garrett. A friend managed to get me a signed copy at the recent launch, which I couldn't attend. It's possible I might meet Mr Garrett some day.
At the moment the news on the Sax Rohmer book Lord of Strange Deaths is looking good, although apparently it's still touch and go whether it will come out this year. Pity if it doesn't as I went to the trouble of arranging a promotional event for it on 11th December. By chance I caught one of the contributors Christopher Frayling talking on the Today programme yesterday about the Yellow Peril, Fu Manchu, and Western images of China. It will be a real shame if our book doesn't come out in 2014, as it's already a year late. Despite what it says on bookseller sites the book is likely to be around 350 pages in length, possibly more.
The same publisher is bringing out a new book on the Cult of [Baron] Corvo (see previous posts here). I'm very much hoping to be able to get to the launch at Maggs Bros next week.
A Bethnal Green Childhood
1 hour ago