Monday, November 07, 2011

Boy's Own adventure stories

I am not a fan of these type of gung-ho books.

You know the sort, where there is a tall, dark, not quite handsome, but definitely rugged hero. He invariably has piercing blue or green eyes. When he is not shooting the shit out of the baddies, he is totally irresistible to any woman within at least a 20 mile radius. He has a dry, slightly sarcastic sense of humour. He is of course mentally intelligent and physically superfit. He is moral (ish) but not to the extent that it stops him killing the baddies.

He also performs the impossible, managing to get out of the most unbelievable predicaments.

But while this sort of tale may not be my book of choice for a Sunday's (or any other day's) read, I don't turn my nose up at free books.

Our neighbour is in some informal book exchange circuit and readily passes them onto us. Saves leaving them on a bench outside, especially when it might rain.

So it was from him that we finally encountered Clive Cussler and the redoubtable Dirk Pitt (six foot something, opaline green eyes, etc etc etc).

The plots follow the same formula, ie there is always lost treasure to start off the novel and in the opening chapter(s), we hear about how it gets lost. Then, we come right back to the present day and our American clean cut super-hero appears, to sort out the baddies, romance (aka shag) at least one woman, and natch, find the treasure from hundreds or thousands of years ago.

At 600 pages or so per novel, they at least entertain me for a couple of days, or more when I have distractions from reading.

Treasure was the first one we read, and it was a good yarn. Sahara was another good one.

Next we got a copy of Chris Ryan's The Increment.

Like Cussler, Ryan is ex-services. However Cussler is ex American Air Force, and Ryan is ex SAS. And there is a world of difference in their novels.

Like a lot of British authors, Ryan seems to imbue a sense of bleakness and harsh realism into his tales. However fantastic (or not, I have no idea) his stories may be, there is no happily ever after. Yes, the hero comes through in the end, but there is always a price to be paid by someone, and not just the baddies. And any humour in his novels is invariably black.

The Increment is a good action-packed tale. Ex-SAS man has his arm twisted to do one last undercover mission etc etc. It was good enough for me to raid the library for more novels but sadly they don't seem to have as many Ryans as they do Cusslers. I did get my hands on The Watchman which is a tale of MI5 plans to infiltrate the IRA. Excellent read.

Co-incidentally I noticed a book crossing stall in The Piazza on Saturday, and there are now four local places to leave and collect books. The only one I can remember on the list however, is Sacarello's in Irish Town. So if you don't exchange books informally with friends and work colleagues, there are now places to book cross here in Gib.

Of course you could always join the library, based in John Mack Hall in Main Street.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Is it really ten years?

This month marks the tenth anniversary of my departure from the UK.

That sounds slightly pretentious but I really can't think of a better way to describe it.

So for most of November, I will be looking back over the last ten years, and musing on life, both on here and on Clouds. I may even write some more 'trip' posts on the Landy blog.

For those of you who are newer readers, I wrote somewhere back that the idea of this blog - and the title - was to write about the somewhat momentous things that seem to happen when you reach forty.

Or maybe because I got appallingly drunk on the delicious Agua de Valencia, that getting to forty took on a disproportionate effect on my life.

Either way you look at it though, forty is pretty much a half way mark, more or less, depending on what fate has in store for you.

But I never did write that many posts about Momentous Issues. This blog quickly became a sort of reportage. Life in Spain - hopefully giving people an insight, and passing on tips. Such as do make sure you have surge protectors. Apart from triple, and quadruple checking everything before you buy a house, making sure you have surge protectors is the next best piece of advice I can offer. And then I added Gib onto the mix.

Itchy Feet became sort of a diary (although not a daily one). Pretty much what a blog was originally meant to be. The thoughtful (?) posts appeared on Clouds.

So now, 'normal' posts are continuing over at my new blog. Yes. Another blog. But not with a different theme, I'm just really really fed up with blogger. I made the mistake of hitting on the 'try the new template' thing, and when I went back to what should have been the old version, it didn't go back to what was. So I am sick of the tiny fonts, the skewed paragraphs, the unchangeable justification, and basically most of it making blogging more difficult than it should be.

I have tried wordpress before and quite frankly, thought it was terrible. Back when you could happily fiddle with blogger templates, and customise it happily, and it did what you wanted, wordpress was limited and offered little for me.

It is still limited in that you can't mess around with the templates - unless you want to pay!!!!! - but there are well over a hundred to choose from, so even Ms Picky managed to find something.

Pictures load individually, but quickly. If you like messing with HTML on the actual posts, it is pretty clear and simple (unlike blogger now for me). Anyway, it's always good to keep changing.

So dear readers, if you wish to keep up with my riveting life, critical book reviews, and vegetarian recipes, please bookmark