"Beware of Pity" by Stefan Zweig

Stefan Zweig generally cut and cut his longer stories until arriving at the essence of the tale.  Beware of Pity is therefore an anomaly, one that forces me to conclude he should have written more novels.

Memorable characters abound in this book that actually contains three extraordinary stories, the primary one set against the lead up to World War One. The protagonist, Lieutenant Anton Hofmiller is an idealistic Austrian army officer and it is his pity, something of a double edged sword, which is at the root of this tragedy.  

Had Stefan Zweig written more novels I would have already added them to my “to read” list, as it is at least he created this one memorable work. It is well worth reading.

I’ll also take this opportunity to recommend the only other book I have read by Stefan Zweig, and that is his fascinating memoir The World of Yesterday.



Flipping heck, is it really that time again?  

Yes it flipping well is.  Let’s get this party started…

Here’s one of the greatest songs of all time ever.  

Dexys Midnight Runners  There There My Dear

Now then, here’s a big shout, the best ever song by New Order is, perhaps somewhat controversially, this…

New Order – Age of Consent

Yes, Tears Of A Clown, yes, Mirror In The Bathroom, however I’m saying this doesn’t get the credit it richly deserves…

The Beat – Save It for Later

It’s a crazy world right?  Yeah.  What you going to do though?  Let’s embrace it.  An underrated glam classic from the legendary Chinnichap team…

Mud – Crazy

My enjoyment of this year’s splendid album by Jenny Lewis has sent me back into her back catalogue including her previous band, Rilo Kiley.  Here’s a fine tune from Rilo Kiley…

Rilo Kiley – Portions For Foxes

Th-th-that’s all folks.

Have a wonderful weekend.


The weekend’s here.  Hurrah.

My enjoyable trawl through the wonderful world of Jonathan Richman continues and if you insist I tell you my favouritist song of this moment then I will reply, as quick as a flash, it’s…

Jonathan Richman - I was dancing in a lesbian bar

^ If that doesn’t put a smile on your face and get you grooving round the room then seek medical attention.

Is life not quite panning out as you might have hoped.  Fear not.  Here’s Will Powers to provide the solution.  

You probably already know that Will Powers is photographer Lynn Goldsmith who slowed the recordings of her voice to make the spoken word sections sound male whilst reading from self-help manuals…

Will Powers  Adventures in Success

^ Make it happen, make it happen, make it happen….  There’s a great dub version of this track for anyone that likes that sort of thing (and what right thinking person doesn’t?)

This has been a good week for those that love Vic Godard, especially those that live in the South East of England.  Not only has “1979 Now!” finally arrived, but Vic ‘n the Subway Sect played in Brighton last night and I was grooving down the front and loving every minute.  Vic is the dictionary definition of that much overused epithet “legend”.  

Vic Godard & The Subway Sect – Born To Be A Rebel

^ This is my favourite track from ”1979 Now!”.  In fact I love it so much I’m going to make a video for it, as all the versions on YouTube are live recordings.  Watch this space.

A lot of modern music passes me by these days but I always thought Hard Fi had some great tunes and there’s none better than the perfect punky pop of…

Hard Fi - Hard To Beat

And finally, and for no particular reason other than it’s an infectious fun pop song… 

Dream Warriors – Wash Your Face In My Sink

Th-th-that’s all folks.
Have a wonderful weekend.

The Sound of Breaking Glass mix

A new mix for you…..

The Sound of Breaking Glass MIX

Bryan Ferry & The Bryan Ferry Orchestra - Love Is the Drug 

Jonathan Richman - I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar 

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Want Fi Goh Rave 

Prince Fatty - Insane In The Brain Feat. Horseman 

Goldfrapp - Ooh La La 

Vic Godard & The Subway Sect - Born To Be A Rebel 

Prince Fatty Meets Nostalgia 77 - Seven Nation Army Dub feat. Dennis Alcapone 

Flying Lizards - Money 

The Beat - Stand Down Margaret (Dub) 

Roxy Music - Angel Eyes (Extended remix) 

The Orb - Little Fluffy Clouds 

David Bowie - Hallo Spaceboy (PSB Remix) 

David Bowie - Golden Years (Jeremy Sole KCRW Remix) 

Nick Lowe - I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass 

Fox - S-s-s-Single Bed 

Barry Blue - Do You Wanna Dance 

The Cure - The Love Cats 



Here’s five more tracks to herald the start of the weekend.

Is this the best song by Linton Kwesi Johnson?  I think it just might be.  

Linton Kwesi Johnson - Want Fi Goh Rave

Now then, and by way of contrast, here’s a much underrated Glam era track that is utterly poptastic…

Barry Blue - Do you wanna dance?

And talking of utterly poptastic, so is Storm in a Teacup by The Fortunes.  This is a particularly poignant choice because the song was co-written by Lyndsey de Paul who died yesterday

The Fortunes - Storm in a teacup

For reasons I cannot explain, I have been regularly enjoying this Cypress Hill classic as remade by Prince Fatty and Horseman (can’t wait for the album in November)

And finally, one of the all time greats, here’s Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers…

Have a great weekend.


Benedict Allen follows Patrick Leigh Fermor’s epic 1931 quest across Europe, tracing the inns, haystacks and castles the young adventurer stayed in as he foot-slogged his way through Holland, Germany, Hungary and Romania towards Byzantium. 

With his academic career punctuated by numerous school expulsions, the young Patrick Leigh Fermor put aside his troubles and set out across Europe to reach Constantinople in Turkey. It was the original backpacker journey, but also a quest in the romantic tradition of Lord Byron - that of the man of action and the intellectual combined.

His two accounts of that journey, A Time of Gifts and Between the Woods and Water, are a masterly portrait of a Europe about to be swept aside by war, and also an insight into the brilliant, classically educated mind of the author.

It is in remotest Greece that Benedict Allen finally tracks down the great man himself to discuss the nature, purpose and future of travel writing.


"The Cretan Runner" by George Psychoundakis

George Psychoundakis (Greek: Γεώργιος Ψυχουντάκης, November 3, 1920 – January 29, 2006) was a Greek Resistance fighter on Crete during the Second World War. He was a shepherd, a war hero and an author. He served as dispatch runner between Petro Petrakas and Papadakis behind the German lines for the Cretan resistance and later, from 1941 to 1945, for the Special Operations Executive (SOE). During the postwar years he was at first mistakenly imprisoned as a deserter. There he wrote his memoirs, which achieved worldwide success.

After the liberation, Psychoundakis was arrested as a deserter and was confined for 16 months despite having been honoured by the British with BEM (Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service) and £200 as an award for his services during the war. While in confinement he wrote his memories of service in the SOE and the Cretan resistance movement. His former superior Patrick Leigh Fermor, later Sir Patrick, discovered his plight by accident and managed to secure his release by clearing up the misunderstanding.

After reading his manuscript, Patrick Leigh Fermor translated it into English, and assisted in getting it published, under the title Cretan Runner: His Story of the German Occupation in 1955. The book has since been translated into a number of European languages. After his release from prison, Psychoundakis was first forced to fight in the civil war. Then he worked as a charcoal burner in the Cretan mountains to support his family until his book was published.

Here’s my review….

I am working my way through all of Patrick Leigh Fermor books and, whilst he is only the translator here (also adding a few helpful footnotes and an introduction) Crete feels an important part of his myth, as well as an interesting slice of WW2 history in its own right. Actually Patrick Leigh Fermor is really only a bit part player in this book, though he adds a few helpful footnotes in addition to translating the book into English.

This is a fascinating insight into an active member of the Cretan resistance during WW2. George Psychoundakis was a young shepherd boy when the Nazis invaded his home in 1941. Whilst clearly very bright and perceptive he was relatively uneducated. This does not hamper his descriptive powers and, bearing in mind his lack of education, this is a remarkable book.

As George Psychoundakis explains, Crete has a long history of occupation and counter-resistance, and he had no hesitation in participating in the resistance. He was a runner, carrying messages between different resistance groups and across diverse, usually mountainous terrain, barely resting for weeks. A risky and courageous existence, frequently achieved with very little food or sleep, in extreme conditions and all for no recompense. The conflict in Crete between the Cretan guerrillas, supported by a handful of British soldiers, and the Nazi occupiers was extreme. The hated Germans behaved barbarically to the Cretans and punished acts of insurrection by torturing and destroying entire communities. This book describes the backdrop to these years.

Prior to WW2, George had never left the island of Crete. For a short period during the war he left Crete and visited Egypt and Palestine. Viewing these new worlds through his eyes is a real pleasure and one of the many highlights in the book.

I found the huge array of different characters to be a little confusing however this did not hamper my enjoyment of this guileless account of a courageous and extraordinary resistance fighter.



"How the Dead Live" by Derek Raymond

This is the third book in Derek Raymond's Factory series.  

The Factory novels, nominal police procedurals are narrated by an unnamed protagonist, a sergeant at London’s Metropolitan Police Department of Unexplained Deaths, also known as A14. A14 handles the lowlife murders, and which are in stark contrast to the headline-grabbing homicides handled by the prestigious Serious Crimes Division, better known as Scotland Yard.

In How the Dead Live the unnamed Sergeant is sent out of London to investigate a missing person case in a small English village called Thornhill. The complicity and sleaze that is rife in the village is presumably meant to mirror that of broader British society. This was written in the mid-1980s and I wonder what Raymond would have made of our own era.  

As with the previous two books, the prose is bleak and our uncompromising hero is like a blow torch, incinerating virtually everything that gets in his way. Unlike the previous books, he is discernibly angrier here, and his dialogue frequently seems to be that of a somewhat camp playground bully. I preferred him in the first book, when he went about his business in a quieter and more understated manner. Still, there is some predictable pleasure in him taking down a selection of corrupt fat cats in addition to some of his own colleagues.  

This is the weakest of the three Factory novels that I have read so far. That said, I know that number four, I Was Dora Suarez(1990), is very highly regarded, and, for all its flaws, this is still compelling and I raced through it, and enjoyed the whole thing.

The five books in Derek Raymond's Factory series are…

1. He Died With His Eyes Open (1976)
2. The Devil’s Home on Leave (1985)
3. How the Dead Live (1986)
4. I Was Dora Suarez (1990)
5. Dead Man Upright (1993)

Click here to read a discussion thread about Derek Raymond.



Another Friday, and it’s time to celebrate the weekend.

Denim and Lawrence’s stinging attack on Britpop from Denim On Ice, but you knew that already didn’t you?

Denim - The Great Pub Rock Revival

Here’s some new music, a collaboration between Prince Fatty and Nostalgia 77 on the Tru Thoughts label.
Tru Thoughts is an independent record label based in Brighton, UK

Prince Fatty Meets Nostalgia 77 - Seven Nation Army Dub feat. Dennis Alcapone

I’ve been revisiting Magazine a lot this week.  With McGeoch gone to the Banshees “Magic, Murder And The Weather” was never likely to be amongst the band’s best work but this is just a perfect pop song that is right up there with their very best…

Magazine – About The Weather

And it features on my latest mix

Here’s a classic pop tune from the 1970s and from another bunch of unclassifiable mavericks…

Sailor - A Glass of Champagne

And, finally, does anyone else remember The Untouchables (the LA band, not the British band) and Free Yourself?  It was released on Stiff Records in the UK and got to number 26 in the UK singles chart in 1985 and is mightily infectious…

The Untouchables - Free Yourself

Have a great weekend


"Reasons To Be Cheerful" mix

A special mix to get you in the mood for Dreams Never End on Saturday 4th October 2014. 

Dreams Never End Club is a monthly club night that takes place on the first Saturday of the month at The Alibi pub in Hove, East Sussex. Dreams Never End Club is a celebration of art and life. We put emphasis on playing music that has stood the test of time, that might have been marginalised at the time of release but has since become classic. It’s not just old records, anything new and pressed on vinyl stands just as much chance of being played: Mogwai, Django Django, etc. Tony Wilson, founder of Factory Records, was a hero for not putting profit above the need for a good piece of art, this is what we are aiming to do with DNE Club. The way that music and graphic art was combined on original vinyl releases means they will be valued long into the future. Our manifesto is to promote vinyl, equality, friendship, dancing and happiness. 



nigeyb - Stummerville intro
Aswad - Warrior Charge
Associates - Boys Keep Swinging
Simple Minds - Celebrate
Brian Eno - Baby’s On Fire
Magazine - About the Weather
Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros - Rudi, A Message To You
The Cure - Close To Me (Closet Remix)
Ian Dury and the Blockheads - Reasons To Be Cheerful, Pt. 3 (12” Version)
M - Pop Muzik
The Knack - My Sharona
Devo - Come Back Jonee
The Motors - Airport
Morrissey - Hairdresser On Fire
The Cure - The Walk