Book Review – Out of Chingford by Tanis & Martin Jordan

2015-01-20 18.21.23Since first seeing the wonderful cover of this book I felt sure that I would enjoy it. I am of course, an adventurer myself, and so to read a book about such amazing exploits as those undertaken by Martin and Tanis was wonderful.

At first their approach to their whole life amazed me. I have trouble actually getting on and doing things, not because I can’t be bothered, but because there is always other things that get in the way. With microadventures, I even get caught up thinking about where you should or shouldn’t go? If you go where you think you will be allowed and you get caught, what do you do? In essence, there are many things that can stop you doing what you want, and Out of Chingford is a shining example (along with Alastair Humphreys and others like him) that you’ve just gotta do it. I grant you, stepping outside the back door isn’t quite as big a step as disappearing into the Amazon. The commitment to live life in that way and to have the tenacity and patience to spend what was sometimes 18 months preparing for a trip was truly astounding.

But the real meat of the book, the part that drew me in and kept me reading was the adventures themselves. I felt that I relaxed along with Martin and Tanis when they finally got back to the parts of the world that they identified with and I was in part living along with all of their exploits as they went up and down the various rivers and in and around the rainforests. I have to admit that I have sat in a boat a short distance from what was a very small large Caiman crocodile in Australia and the thought of being any closer to much bigger animals would far from fill me with happy thoughts. The book therefore allowed me not only to discover an Amazon that is no longer there, but also to experience second hand a multitude of situations that I know I will never see. I might manage to hit a few, but not all, definitely not all, and that makes me feel sad.

I have indicated in other posts that I gave this book 5/5 on goodreads. You will see at the bottom that I have scored it 9/10 in this review. Why so high? I think it’s largely because:-

  • Because I identified with Martin and Tanis.
  • And because they were both so unerringly honest that you really got to know them during that time.
  • And because it was in many parts funny, emotional, conflicting and almost everything in between. It is one of the most complete descriptions that I have read, even though not everything is written down and sometimes the narrative flicks around, particularly at the start.
  • And because I think I was lucky to find the book at all. I don’t think that it was a massive best seller?
  • And because I was lucky that Martin and Tanis were able to go on their adventures, and that they decided to write it all down, edit it together and get it published.

A perfect storm for me, and I appreciated it hugely as I read.

So, there you go. Go read it!

Good reads link

Rating 9/10

P.S. just because it is fun, here are the other travel titles listed in the back of the book that you could have bought ‘back in the day’ when Out of Chinford first came out.

A Traveller on Horseback by Christina Dodwell

Up Mount Everest without a paddle by Derek Nimmo

To the Navel of the World by Peter Somerville-Large (Yaks and unheroic travels in Nepal and Tibet)

We bought and Island by Evelyn Atkins


My First Microadventure

I have always like “the out doors” I suppose that it is one of the many reasons why I am interested in green, sustainable, post consumer, ecologically responsible things. Lets face it, nature is really nice 🙂

Back in the summer when I started my post consumer book club (membership one) and simultaneously created this blog and my twitter account, I started following people who like books and reading. I also followed people who like ecology and the environment. After a while I began to find an unexpected group of people cropping up in my searches – Adventurers! Obviously, I instantly started following a few, well you would wouldn’t you? One of the first I found was Alastair Humphreys. He not only does proper big boy adventures, but also has ideas that cater for all stratum of adventures that can be had! There is Adenture1000 (#adventure1000) in which you should save £1000 or 1000 of whatever your local currency is, then adventure as much as you can with it. That one will stay in the back of my mind for possible later use. I think intentionally, it is about the amount you would spend on a normal holiday, and why wouldn’t you prefer to go as far from the beaten track as you can for your cash??

Anyway, back to my more modest adventuring beginnings… Alastair also imagined and has created the Micro Adventure (#microadventure). The blurb on Alastair’s website describes these as:-

trying to encourage people to get outside, get out of their comfort zone, go somewhere they’ve never been. A microadventure is an adventure that is close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.

I loved the idea of that. I go to work on the train and there are loads of places where I could happily disappear for a night beside a river or in a bit of the woods… But that still seems too big for me, at least for now. I love camping but it doesn’t get that far up my agenda as often as I would like, especially as Mrs.PoCoBooC isn’t quite as interested! I also have trouble breaking away from the need to go to a campsite. I yearn to disappear into any old field and sleep under a bush (no honestly, I do) but I still struggle with how you go about actually doing that. Maybe this is because it really as devilishly simple as just going and doing it?

Thankfully Alastair took one final step down the rungs of the adventure ladder, descending to one where I could actually step up without too much wailing or gnashing of teeth. He actually made a year of 12 microadventures for the year, but the first is “camp in the back garden”. It’s a first step, and it is January, so it is still something that you wouldn’t normally do. Brilliant. So that was the challenge for January and the astute amongst you will notice that it’s february, but hey, better to do it than not do it, and as I said, Mrs.PoCoBooC would be a long way from pleased if I tried to spring the February challenge on her!

I took the opportunity to get adventuring on Friday night. I stayed at a friends house for the night as we had a curry and films night planned. Instead of sleeping in the spare room I announced that I would be camping in the garden 🙂 Great fun. The adventure was booked. Now, as you may have realised, curry and films meant that I didn’t need to eat in the great outdoors, but I can add cooking into future adventures. I also went with what I have, so didn’t take the bivvy bag route. I had been seriously planning a real micro adventure with a bivvy bag, but I’m still not sure yet. Anyway, I own 3 tents, so why not just use them? In my own special way, my choice of tent for the event also added to the fun. My tents are:-

  • Tent 1 – Vango “Icarus” 6 man – The family weekend or longer tent
  • Tent 2 – Vango “cant.remember” 3 man tunnel tent. This is my oldest tent and is the one I take as my one person tent (What? I like the space!)
  • Tent 3 – Eurohike Flash Fuse II – Oh my, the pinnacle of tent engineering, the pop up tent. I got this for me to actually use to camp in (it is one of the dual skin ones no less) but it has spent most of its life in the garden on sunny days with the kids in it, usually accompanied by a decent number of plastic balls! To add to the fun the single continuous pole in this tent snapped last year. I managed to repair it, but the pole is now a little short and the overall aesthetic of the tent could be described as “slightly wonky”.

Obviously it was Tent 3 that I took out on Friday night. Partly as it is very quick to erect and pack away, and partly because a VERY cheap and slightly broken tent felt like the right accommodation for this epic adventure attempt.

So Friday afternoon stumbled into existence and this is the heavenly accommodation that I setup for that night.

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The tent took about 5 minutes to put up. I actually took longer to blow up the air-bed than put up the tent. Yes, Yes, I used an air-bed. I have a self inflatable mat, but I forgot to take it. OK! I also went one step further and added even more “luxury”… Because the tent is old and exceedingly cheap, I discovered almost as soon as I crawled into it that the integral ground sheet leaks, a lot! I carried on setting up, but got two wet knees for my trouble. My host for the evening provided a genius solution –  a bit of old carpet from the shed!! This micro adventure was getting odder and odder, but who doesn’t pass up the offer of a carpeted abode for a night under the stars?? In addition to the carpet and the air-bed, I had 2 mid season sleeping bags and 3 blankets. All set.

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*** various films and a decent curry later ***

It was 1 am when I step out of the back door towards the tent. It was obviously pretty cold, but not anything as extreme as I thought it would be. I didn’t take a coat out, but I did have a woolly hat which stayed in place of the duration! I disappeared into the tent and what I expected to be very cold sleeping bags were also not too bad. It took quite a bit of faffing to get clothes off and arrange one sleeping bag inside the other and me inside that as quickly as possible. I think more haste less speed would have been a good idea, but I was in a tent in my mates garden wrapped up like a caterpillar. Quite comfy and quite warm. Content in my decision to do this, I fell asleep pretty quickly.

I woke a few times in the night, but for no reason that I could discern. I wasn’t overly cold, and I know what being woken by the cold feels like (yeuk.) All I can imagine is that a “big” cat, or a “wild” pigeon might have broken the silence of the night (the part not filled by other noises!) Anyway, I went back to sleep each time and that was that.

The next morning I woke up at around 8. That’s later than I usually get to sleep in at home 🙂 I was woken by a drip from the ceiling… Oh bugger, I thought, it must be really dewy outside and it is coming through the tent. But I was to discover that it wasn’t. I put up with the situation for a bit, I love that bright morning light inside a tent and I was honestly really comfy and warm. By the 5th or 6th big drip I decided I should get up. By the 10th or 11th I began to get up! Clothes came into the sleeping bag with me to warm up before I put them on, then I was dressed and out of the tent. Oh…

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There wasn’t any dew on the tent. It was frozen! From this I concluded that the drips were condensation. According to the weather report it got down to -1.5 degC. Not the coldest, but I’m pretty proud that I slept out in it. Especially as I had a good time and a good sleep. Here is another nice picture to record the temperature of the event.

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And that is that. First micro adventure complete. It invigorated me. Even with the odd “curry and film” approach that I took, it showed me that you can camp in most places at most times. Im not sure that tent would have coped with rain and wind, but it did well under the circumstances. To conclude this whistle stop diary entry, the total cost of my first ever micro adventure?


For that price I will be doing it a lot more 🙂

Farewell Raven and Altered Carbon

After my post last night, I have had a good sleep, and caught up with stuff. I still have lots of dreaded work to do this weekend, but that’s not now. Now is eating croissants, putting up Christmas trees, playing WII and wrapping stuff up. Oddly, this morning’s wrapping wasn’t for Christmas, but for a very special wedding book that is going to be presented my best friends tomorrow. Anyway, less of that. I had all the material out I decided to send Raven back to it’s rightful home. I am sure that I have mentioned the back story of Raven in a previous post, but I have just wasted 10 minutes trying to find it, and failed. Raven was lent to me about 20 years ago by my best friend of the time. I added it to my queue of books, and therefore my bookcase, and promptly left to go to University. My friend and I kept in touch, but the book was never mentioned and it has traveled with my mobile library as I have migrated from University into work and through two house moves!! Reading and reviewing Raven for the blog committed in my mind the need to return the book. It has sat on my windows sill with some of the other books I have read, not going back in the bookcase, not going in the loft, but in a sort of book limbo.

That was until today. Not only did I summon the herculean effort required to get off my arse and take action, I also added in a little extra fun at the same time. I will illustrate my morning with Photo’s in reverse order.

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My friend will receive Raven back sometime next week. With the obvious addition of an address and postage and stuff, this is the package he will get. Bit bigger than the slim dimensions of Raven isn’t it!!?

Why is that? What else is in there? oooh, this is fun 🙂 I realised that my friend is a big book reader (he also likes small books), and only sending him back a book he has already read is a bit unfair. All be it that it might be time for a re-read given he hasn’t seen the thing for 20 years!

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I have therefore also sent my friend my copy of Altered Carbon. The pic above is the pre-wrapped paper package. Naked books!! I also included an actual written letter with the books, just to explain things a bit. I think it is the first time in about 10 years that I have written a letter to someone.

I have also been re-distributing my books. The last *amazing* thing to tell you about this fun filled package is that Altered Carbon is being sent to my friend to start it on it’s journey like Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Hopefully my friend will read, then share this great book?? When I left Captain Corelli in Swanage I knew that I wanted to do something different with the note that I stuck in the front cover. Firstly you couldn’t see anything to differentiate my books on adventures from any old book that someone could have left. As you can see, I am worried that this will just get shoved in a bookcase somewhere. Alternatively, it might go into a charity shop and still be set for a good old adventure??? 🙂

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Secondly, I had to actually stick the note in the book which I wasn’t too pleased about.

So here is Postconsumerbookclub book distribution technique version 2….

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It is a sleeve that fits over the cover. You can see it from the outside and it is also held in place. Not sure how long it will last, but it is better than the previous version by loads!

I will add Altered Carbon to the Books on the loose section of the site.

Next Book – Love all the People by Bill Hicks and John Lahr

Hello everyone. I am amazed that I have managed to go 2 weeks without blogging! It’s a real shame to say it, but work has properly stopped play recently. I have started travelling to work on the train, and I had been using that time to read, read, read. I have to say that it is a much better use of time than concentrating on driving, or at least it is when you get to read books. I have only read on a few days this week as I have had so much work to get done. But, reading keeps me sane so I have squeezed it in around other things as you do, and that is good. It is quite surprising, given my lack of time, that I have managed to get quite a way through The Sword of Shannara, but I did manage to get through a chunk last weekend. I have to say that I came very close to putting this book down, but now that I am into the buildup to the end I’m glad I didn’t.

Oddly, I have still been doing Twitter quite a bit. I think I identify with the quick nature of the medium, and it is something I can do as I walk from the train or between buildings that reading or blogging or other work can’t get in the way of. Suffice to say, I’m happy when my brain is busy, but I guess that is kinda obvious?

As a side note, I have a massive history of starting a book and stopping half way through. I found this happened with a book I was enjoying as much as one that I wasn’t. I think writing the blog is helping me to get over that particular deficiency. The read, blog cycle means that if I stopped I would have to ‘fess up, and that would be bad. I am bound by my own contract Rule number 5.

Right, time to get to the point. I’m tired, I am not in the mood for getting into the details of work or my mental deficiency regarding staying power (other deficiencies are in existence!) and I want to stare at something and not write. I may read my book, but my eyes are stinging a bit, so I might just shut them?? I haul my sorry A**e to the book case and pick the next book. I don’t want another fantasy as I need to spread them out a bit. I don’t really want a Sci-Fi as I read Altered Carbon and that has me topped up on the future for a while, but then again, I have a more limited array of other fiction. To be honest, that is partly because I read a lot of other stuff before I started the blog…

Got it 🙂 My next book is Love All the People: Letters, Lyrics, Routines by Bill Hicks and John Lahr. That is a bit of mouthful as titles go, so I will have to get creative with the hashtag on Twitter! I don’t usually do autobiographies or biographies, but I have a couple floating about. Bill Hicks was a big part of my formative years, and a chunk of his cynicism and world views rubbed off on me. The back cover uses words like genius, brave, brilliant and right. I don’t disagree with any of them and would probably add a few more that are along the same lines. I think I am going to enjoy reading this book. I also think that my twitter feed will have a few more swear words and some quality quotes when I get to start reading this 🙂

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Now that is done I’m either going to pass out or read a book? WooHoo, it’s the weekend.

Farewell captain Corelli

I have had this idea in the pipeline for a while, and it’s amazing. Well, in my head it is, anyway. I hadn’t really planned to start this so son, but took action as soon as I realised I could.

The plan was that once I have read a book, I can send it out into the world so that other people can read it. I won’t do it for all books, as there are some that I really want to keep, but I want to send out as many as I can. But, there is even more to my amazing plan then just book distribution!

Here is the first book that I have sent out, and more the point, I did it yesterday!


Yeeees, you guested it, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. We had a family trip to Swanage in Dorset, and that is far enough away from the real Mr.Pocobooc’s home for it to be a great place to philanthropically release my first book into the wild. The book was left at Love Cake Etc which, as an aside, does a brilliant range of things to eat and a seriously decadent hot chocolate.


But, even in such lovely surroundings,  we don’t want to just leave books all over the place willy nilly do we? Where’s the fun in that? My extra twist to this is a note that I have stuck inside the front cover.


Ideally, I would like to have taken more time over the whole thing. I have a plan for future “deployments” that will allow some info to be visible on the front cover without actually damaging the book. Sadly, that has to wait yesterday as I only realised I could use our trip to get the book on its way about 30 minutes before we left!

I’m going to create a new menu item (I did it, it’s here)that tracks books that I send out. Once that’s done I just need some people to read the books and get in touch…

Hello Word Press, nice to be here

Evening all. Well, what the bloody hell happened there? One minute I was finishing Altered Carbon and trying to find the time to write the review before starting Terry Brooks – The Sword of Shannara. Next thing I know, I’ve half written the review in evernote (other note apps are available) and moved my blog!!

I’m not going to go into the finer reasons why I moved, but suffice to say that my mate just setup a blog, started on blogger, did one post and moved. I was always on the edge of going the WordPress route, and I am a sheep (do androids dream of electronic sheep? is on my read before the blog list) so here I am.

Basically, I thought it was best to move before I got more than the 3 views a day I currently get, and I have a sneaking suspicion that those are me 🙂 Twitter is beginning to be a bit more interactive, but it is early days. So i have just stuffed most of the previous links i posted to twitter. Better cut and run early. Anyway, thanks to SocraticSustain for nudging me over. Get on with blogging you massive T***

So, that’s me done for now


p.s. I might accidentally trip over and accidentally land at the open first page of The Sword of Shannara tomorrow on the train? I promise I will tweet just to record the details of my misdemeanor of I do (he says while staging the book in his work bag…)

Not quite the Book Review – Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Here is my quick and dirty list of references from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. They are of limited value without the book, but there is some interesting stuff to go and find out about if you wanted to 🙂
  • 1st page of the book, about Louis de Bernieres – His first novel was called “The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts” Interesting title 🙂
  • P4 Paragraph 2 – Dr. Iannis is having trouble finding the correct voice to use in his writing. I know that feeling.
  • P5 all – This book is full of long words. Helps with descriptions, but can be harder to penetrate. (much later on there is reference to Greeks using the longest words that they can, so this may be a reason. Also the book blossoms in this regard
  • P5 – lots of Greek history:- Demeter was raped by Poseidon disguised as a horse. She gave birth to a horse and a mystical daughter who’s name was lost when Eleusinian Mysterys were suppressed by Christians.
  • P6 top – more greek history that I hadn’t heard before.
  • P9 top 1/2 of page – first use of the word fascism. “…Fascism is not merely a social and political revolution, it’s cultural as well”
  • P9 lower down – “…I want Fascist book-clubseven in the small towns…”
  • P27-29 provides a good insight into the rationalisation of a dictator
  • P40 3/4 way down – “Machian variey of materialism”
  • P44 & 45 – a comparison of communism and capitalism. One can’t exist without the other, communism is supposed to be the end of capitalism, but if the whole world was communist the global economy would grind to a halt!
  • P53 4th Paragraph – “be a good communist” and the page mentions the word “Utopia”
  • P77 Bottom – An Atheist is moved by the remains of a saint healing a mad person.
  • P81 – A description of a funny race.
  • P111 “Stalin cannot be a true communist”
  • P113 just above 1/2 way “stiffened into adamantine inflexibility” isn’t that what wolverine is made of??
  • P127/8 – “… the pleasure of homecoming was more than recompense for the pains of setting out, and that therefore it was always with departing”
  • P169 – half way down “there would be no tyrant, captain, and no wars, if minions did not ignore their conscience.”
  • P185 Persichini Polka is music of the mandolin.
  • P189 1/2 way down – “In Roumeli there was a small British team of enthusiastic amateurs” … “dropping in by parachute, using an innovative type of parachute which had supplies and radios tied into the upper chords…” Interesting
  • P209 book –  what is to be done by Lenin.
  • P210 top – capitalists. Here we go!
  • P217 – “nonetheless he had the moral authority of someone who refuses to compromise an ethical principal in the name of an ideal”
  • P220 “scientific socialism” I think this is a reference to socialism’s use of logic
  • P221 description of Mussolini’s life. Very interesting if true?
  • P222 bottom- the duce gained much notoriety by accusing Jesus Christ of copukating with Mary magdelen and by penning a pamphlet entitled “good does not exist”
  • P223  HWD – ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and possibly the duce is astygmatic”
  • P230 out ism’s me by about 3:1
  • The depth of knowledge of so much of how WW2 came about and played through is astounding.
  • P250 pax Romana – the longest period of civilisation known to man.
  • P265 1/3WD- communist description
  • P274 bottom – the British soldier sons like the traveler in the colour of magic
  • P285 hwd – “it’s obvious to me that ethics change with the times as science does.”
  • P289 top – style of planning in different countries
  • Beautifully poignant passages throughout
  • P345 top – “exactly the same thing happened in Italy, they all joined the fascists to see what they could get.”
  • P361 – “the tragedy was that this was yet another steep along the fated path by which communist was growing into the Greatest and Most Humane Ideology Never to Have Been Implemented Even When it Was in Power, or perhaps The Most Noble Cause Ever to Attract the Highest Proportion of Hooligans and Opportunists.” I have no idea why the capitalisation is as it is??
  • P391 – chapter 68. Beautifully poignant part of the book. Very sad and only possible because of the layers of story that came before it. “The earthquake changed lives so profoundly that to this day it is still the single greatest topic of conversation. When other families elsewhere are arguing about whether or not socialism had a future…”
  • P396 – “she discovered that her basic understanding of economic processes was Marxist, but that, paradoxically, she thought that capitalism has the best ways of dealing with the problems.” (added Marxism to the ISMs page)
  • P401 – “…Antonia’s support of Papandreou’s socialist government” must find out more about that and other times where socialist (or other more radical ideas) have been tested???
  • P404 top – talking about Antonia’s shop “handmade rugs that were really made by machines in north Africa”
  • Various pages up to and including 399-405. A description of Alexi moving from socialism that may have become conservative to capitalist.
  • Didnt get a page number, but look up about the Anti-fascist alliance
  • And finally, somwhere hidden in the book is a section about the Albanians: “one of them electrocuted himself in the penis by urinating on a transformer” ’nuff said!

I also found a great website called bookdrum that has commentaries for quite a few books that actually make sense!!

This review by The Guardian highlights that there was some backlash from the book when it first came out. Either a it was a bit to blasé with its use of characterisation, or plain wrong in the portrayal of certain groups, or maybe a bit to close to the truth? 

Next book: James Herbert – The Fog

Evening all. I am within spitting distance of finishing Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and have been planning a bit of a new idea for future books. I should have realised this right at the start, but this blog is called a book club! As far as I can, I will post a blog entry before I finish my current book with details of my next book. If any of you lovely readers out there want to join in, you can. Kind of like a club and stuff 🙂
Now, I did realise that if I am going to be serious about this, I cant actually ask you to go out and buy the book that I am reading as that would negate my aim to stop consuming stuff. If I go about asking you all to buy stuff then I’m making myself part of the problem. Therefore I have to ask you to follow these rules
  1. If you have loads of unread books, read those first and tweet or blog about it. If you do, tell me on the blog or on twitter 🙂
  2. If you can find it second hand that is great
  3. If you can get the book from the library then great too
If you really want to buy it and you have loads of unread books, then at least you will be reading what I hope to be a good cross section of books including all kinds of random title along the way 🙂
So what’s my next book? Stupid question considering the title I gave this post. I had a long look through my bookcase, and came up with a choice of two. Given my last two books, I really wanted to go for something that didn’t include war or socialism! I came up with a choice of two, and I’m not sure that you could get two more different books.

 I was really divided between the two for so many reasons. I chose The Fog mainly because I know that Danny Wallace is pretty much the same as he was before he wrote his book, and it claims that it will change your life on the cover. I will obviously still ready this book, and it gets a good rating on goodreads. Next its The Fog, so if you wanna, grab your copy and I will post a blog entry to give the signal to start reading.

Last thing. Here is a pic of my copy of the book. I “inherited” it from my dad a very long time ago. My copy was published in 1977, so I was a year old then… Back to the last bit of CCM. It is really good, not sure how many books I can rate 8/10 before I have to make a change.

My connected web expands.

So here I am, blogging away like a good’un, but who is looking?? Well a couple of bored mates, but that’s it at the moment. Even so, I still wanted to make my content accessible to more people via more channels. Because of the magic of Google, blog posts already get copied to my google+ page, but I want more. This doesn’t actually mean any more people will read the blog, but it does expand the options when they do. I found this URL:-

It describes how you can link account together using a website called IFTTT, that stands for “If This Then That. I didn’t use all of the lifehacker method, but it led me to IFTTT, it is fantastic! When I say that I really mean it. I work in IT and so much of what I use looks good, but is actually a pain in the arse. This service is great, it does exactly what it says it will, simply and effectively. I have:-

  • connected blogger with Facebook so blog posts trigger a Facebook post with a link
  • connected blogger with Twitter so blog posts trigger a tweet with a link
  • connected twitter to Facebook so that tweets to small for the blog get to Facebook.
So, you can follow on google+, follow on Twitter, follow on Facebook or come direct to the blog 🙂

The final test

I have said how good IFTTT is, but as I have not posted to the blog yet, it might just be a really nice looking website that doesn’t work! When I push go, we will see if everything works…
Wish me luck!

Not quite the Book Review – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists – Robert Tressell

This is an introductory paragraph to the work in progress that is the ragged trousered philanthropists review. I have posted this because it has taken me a good portion of a day off to get this far and I didn’t want to just bury it until it is finished. Also, if I post this, then the finished article it looks like I have done loads of blogging 🙂

Almost all the notes that I took while read the book listed below, you can get an idea of where it took me. I am planning to add a review of the book and split the notes into separate pages that start the creation of some new static pages that describe, define and catalog my investigation and understanding of some of the big words floating around me at the moment e.g. socialsim, capitalism, communism, etc. Have fun looking through the guff below.


I have been quoting this as a singular philanthropist when it is plural!

18 highlights and 25 comments


  • Different from today
    • mantle clock stops and it is dark – You forget the little things like watches that are reliable
    • the low ceiling showed the formation of the roof – that is a good thing these days!
    • first mention of religion “But she remembered that Satan often appears as an angel of light. Appearances are deceitful” – Hmm religion.
    • “Owen hesitated: he was wet through : it was a long way to Linden’s place, nearly twenty minutes’ walk. Still, he would like to let him know…” – How the world changes in 100 years. walk 20 minutes to pass on a message!!
    • “so long as the working class was contented to die twenty years before their time he failed to see what it had got to do with other people.” – This is in different from today because today most of these downtrodden, blackmailed people do not live in the first world.
    • “But what gets over me, is this: according to science, the earth turns round on its axle at the rate of about twenty miles a minit. Well, what about when a lark goes up in the sky and stays there about a quarter of an hour? Why, if it was true that the earth was turnin’ round at that rate all the time, when the bird came down it would find itself ‘undreds of miles away from the place where it went up from!”
    • “…reminds me of a conversation I ‘ad with Dr.Weakling the other day. You know, he believes we’re hall descended from monkeys.”

    • Same as today (includes my religious views)
      • “It was not necessary to call in the evidence of science, or to refer tot he supposed inconsistencies, impossibilities, contradictions and absurdities contained in the Bible, in order to prove that there was no truth in the so-called Christian religion. All that was necessary was to look at the conduct of the individuals who were its votaries.”
        • mimics modern sentiments on religion.
      • If, as so many people pretended to believe, there was an infinitely loving god, how was it that this helpless creature that He had made was condemned to suffer? It had never done any harm, and was in no sense responsible for the fact that it existed. Was God unaware of the miseries of His creatures? If so, then he was not all-knowing. Was God aware of their suffering, but unable to help them? Then he was not all powerful. Had He the power but not the will to make His creatures happy? Then he was not good. It was impossible to believe in the existence of an individual infinite God.
        • The book is obviously getting quite deeply philosophical at this point, but I can’t argue with it!
      • “for there had arisen a new generation which cared nothing about craftsmanship or art, and everything for cheapness and profit.”
        • Like today, and we can say something about consumerism and the drive for profit and competitive markets.
      • About scripture “No: he said he didn’t believe there ever was [such a man as in the scriptures], but he told me to just listen to what the teacher said about such things, and then to think about it in my own mind, and wait till I’m grown up and then I can use my own judgement.”
        • This is about an atheist fitting into a religious school.
      • “A general murmur of approval greeted this. It seemed to be the almost unanimous opinion that, whether it were true or not, ‘religion’ what a nice thing to teach children.”
        • This shows a change in culture. When things are taught as fact, they are believed by adults and children. When people just turn up because that is what should be done, they have already made the big leap that this is not fact, just something to be done. The reality of this change is then taught and change is inevitably.
      • I was surprised to find the word “Infidel“. The book uses the word a few times to describe people who do not follow Christianity, or only follow it in part. The comment I made while reading the book was “how the worm turns.” I looked the word up as linked above. It appears that although this word is currently mostly heard from the lips of Muslim radicals, it would be equally appropriate for a Christian to hurl the word back. Both groups could label atheists, agnostics or believers of other faiths with it. It is a rather nasty word in my opinion. There should not be a “You’re not like me” word in common use.
      • “sich a lot of infiddles about who said that we all came from monkeys”
      • During one of Owen’s lectures: “the object of most advertisements being merely to persuade people to buy from one firm rather than another.”
      • “…the serviettes, arranged fanwise in the drinking-glasses”
      • Religion – There are comments in the book that suggest some of the working class, and at least Owen, are not Christian. This is a loose theme, but culminates in a couple of phrases used to describe the upper classes who are exploiting so many people. “Psalm-singing devils” and “the ‘Christian’ wolves”. Is it possible that the masses gradually accepted some of these more extreme ideas along with some of the socialist ones, and it is a watered down, more accepted version of these that has set us on a course towards equality and a reduction of Christianity in the UK (and other first world countries?)?
    • Consumerism is a function of Capitalism
      • “In order to succeed in the world it was necessary to be brutal, selfish and unfeeling: to push others aside and to take advantage of their misfortunes.” – about the traits required to succeed in a capitalist culture.
      • “Well, wot do you reckon is the cause of poverty, then?” … “The present system – competition – capitalism.”
        • While reading the book I found this true. Capitalism drives selfishness and greed for profit. The book clearly illustrates the problems with unchecked capitalism. I was about to argue that in today’s modern world, we have regulations that stop a lot of the bad practice and bad people doing what they want to make money, but I have stopped myself. The story of stuff illustrates perfectly the modern situation. Our Capitalists have just got better at hiding the dirty laundry. So how do we fix this. We become much more ethical, conscious consumers. We take it upon ourselves to understand where our stuff comes from. Buy less better quality stuff that has no relationship with poverty unless it is taking it away. A quote from the book “Everybody knows that good clothes, boots or furniture are really the cheapest in the end.” we need to comment on fashion as a key driver to consumerism. Sometimes the reason for changing a perfectly good item is that it is out of date. This now rings true for technology as well as more traditional things.
      • Later in the book we see that modern capitalism as described in the story of stuff is already in place. The family could not afford the locally hand made toy, but “For sixpence they bought a cardboard box that had come all the way from Japan and contained a whole family of dolls.”
      • “It is the bad employer, the sweating, slave-driving employer, who sets the pace for the others. If any employer today were to resolve to pay his workmen such wages as he would be able to live upon in comfort himself, and if he did not require them to do more work every day that he himself would like to perform, he would be bankrupt in a month.” – This is another story of stuff related point. cost is very important. It is the juxta position between ‘pay for quality’, ‘get what you pay for’ mentality and the exploitation that still occurs while producing that quality product. Lets not talk about the lower quality items.
      • “What they wanted, they said, was not more work, but more grub, more clothes, more leisure, more pleasure and better homes. They wanted to be able to go for country walks or bicycle rides, to go out fishing or to go to the seaside and bathe and lie on the beach. But there were not many so selfish as this. the majority desired nothing but to be allowed to work, and as for their children, why, what was good enough for the, oughter be good enough for the kids.”
      • “‘We’ll give the swines Socialism!’ shouted Crass, who was literally foaming at the mouth. ‘We’ll teach ’em to come ‘ere trying to undermine our bloody morality !’ howled Dick Wantley, as he hurled a lump of granite at one of the cyclists.
    • Other
      • There is a description of one of the rooms in the house that is being decorated throughout most of the book, “The Cave”. It reminded me of a National Trust house in the UK, these are typically old stately homes and country houses. The book makes you think of the ragged trousered philanthropists who decorated the house. It puts a different perspective on the beauty that you see.
      • There is part of the book where a council meeting is occurring at the same time as a meeting of the workers. There is a comparison of the two meetings.  One held in an ordered way, but with every decision corruptly worked out and agreed before hand.  The other honest, but un-prepared and chaotic. 
      • “Slyme was heard to say that Socialism meant Materialism, Atheism and Free Love, and if were ever to come about it would degrade men and women to the level of brute beasts.” – in the eyes of the church?? Interesting that ‘Socialism meant Materialism’ is this the christian stating that a socialist concentration on more leisure and free time would inevitably lead to gluttony? if so, he was probably right.
    • socialism
      • “These people seemed to thing that the children were the property of their parents. They had not sense enough to see that the children are not the property of their parents at all but the property of the community. When they attain to manhood and womanhood they will be, if mentally or physically inefficient, a burden on the community; if they become criminals they will prey upon the community; and if they are healthy, educated and brought up in good surroundings, they will become useful citizens, able to render valuable service…”
        • Consumerism and capitalism are based around “things” but they are always created by and consumed by people.
      • Part of Owen’s utopian socialist future. “… and the establishment of an Industrial Civil Service, a National Army of Industry, for the purpose of producing the necessaries,” – The Civil Service was one of the devices described in the book to allow everyone to work at tasks that contribute to the community and produce for the basic needs of all, while allowing reduced hours, less stress and more comfort for it’s employees.
      • There is a section of Owen’s description of socialism in action where he describes state made items that do not need to factor in the cost of advertisement and profit, and because of the scale of works, raw materials would be bought at very good prices. The result would be the required materials of a comfortable life, provided at a much reduced cost, given that the whole monetary system would also be usurped.
        • This is not far from the way of things that I would like to see, except it is not the government doing it. Socialism and communism both rely on a few good people to run them, to stay true to the ideal without becoming corrupt with all the power. I guess my aim is to find products that are fairly priced and do not exploit people. If I ever make a product and sell it, I would aim to price it fairly against the effort that went into its production. I suppose that this means trading profit for worker’s pay and comfort (a mute point if the worker is me!) but that is the reality of the situation. Fair trade. I wonder if they will be under priced or over priced compared to the competition?? Fair Trade gives workers in other countries better pay and conditions. It would be interesting to see what conditions this allows, what the range of wages is, and to see how much profit the fair trade companies still make?? This would be very interesting, but potentially dangerous. If it turns out that fair trade is still not fair, as it surely isn’t, it is still a damn sight better than the rest!
      • Owen describes a difference between the normal ‘Metal money’ and the new Socialist ‘Paper money’. Paper money was therefore not in common use in 1900’s.
      • Cadbury created Bournville in the late 1800’s. In the 1890’s, Sheffield, an industrial center, saw a great expansion of theaters, music and the arts. It appears that the tide is changing at this time. Although we never saw the socialist dream, the government became involved enough to make sure that people were paid enough to live better lives and have some leisure time. The knock on effect? off shore the pain. Story of stuff…
      • “The shops and stores where these people were formerly employed will be acquired by the state, which will pay the former owners compensation..”
        • Where does socialism end and communism start??
      • “Actors, artists, sculptors, musicians and others will go on working for their own pleaseure and honour. Some will devote their leisure to science, art or literature. Others will prefer to travel on the state steamships to different parts of the world to see for themselves all those things of which most of us have now but a dim and vague conception. This, for the first time in the history of humanity, the benefits and pleasures conferred upon mankind by science and civilsation will be enjoyed equally by all, upon one condition, that they shall do their share of the work in order to make all these things possible.”
        • compare this to the life of stuff video. We have a good chunk of this in the first world , but on the work of others.
      • “‘Even if you no longer believe in working for Socialism, there’s no need to work against it,’ said Owen. ‘ If you don’t want to help to bring about a better state of affairs, there’s no reason why you should help to perpetuate the present system.’ The other man laughed bitterly. ‘Oh, yes there is, and a very good reason too.’ ‘I don’t think you could show me a good reason,’ said Owen. The man with the scar laughed again, the same unpleasant, mirthless laugh, and thrusting his hand into his trouser pocket drew it out again full of silver coins, amongst which one or two gold pieces glittered. ‘That’s my reason…'”
        • This part of the book goes on for some time both before and after this snipped. It describes in detail a huge problem. Money is used to control, and even those who truly believe in something may put that aside to have the chance to be comfy.