By Russell Brand and Madge Darby respectively.
I chose to review both of these together because they both involve London but are also very different. Neither of them are very important or life-changing but each is entertaining in its own way. ‘Booky Wook’ is good – I think Brand writes very well and has a creative turn of phrase. He is a modern dandy or at least that is what he’s aiming for. It was an entertaining read and even if a quarter of what he describes is true he has had an eventful life. Many hilarious anecdotes but also some er… disturbing ones. I hope he writes about football for the Guardian on Saturday this year because his columns were excellent – mixing football with surreal flights of fancy which is I think what he does best.
Waeppa’s people is basically a history of Wapping, where I live. It is a bit dry for the first half of the book but the pictures make up for it a little. In the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries though you feel Darby’s focus snap into place. This is the era she is really interested and I must admit – so am I. What is really interesting is how successive councils never listen to the wishes of the local people. Even this century they basically do whatever they wish and whoever has the most money wins the day. There are little victories however, but the battle of Wapping (not just the News International dispute) was lost over the years to the men with the money. I was astounded at how they tore down St Katherines to make way for the dock and even silly things like street names with historical significance are replaced by names of benefactors which have none. Darby’s opinion can be seen in the later chapters of the book and for the most part she canvasses it well.
Soundtrack: The National – All the Wine.