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Sunday, 1 April 2012

I'm an Addict

I realised I had a problem over 50 years ago.

I was aged about 9 or 10, on a family holiday in Newquay in Cornwall. and I had a dilemma.
I had 2/6 (this is the old symbol for a half crown. 30 old pence, 12.5 new pence.  Also called a dollar.  Don't ask.  I'm just so grateful everything went metric.

You youngsters have no idea that things were so complicated.

Just look at money.

¼ penny  = farthing
½ penny = ha'penny
1½penny = pennyha'penny or three farthings (not an individual coin, just the name used for this amount)
3 pennies = thripnybit ( two types of coin, either a brass looking 12 sided, or a round silver coin)
6 pennies = sixpence (written -/6 or 6d)
12 pennies = 1 shilling, or a bob.(written 1/-)
24 pennies = 2 shillings or a 2 bob bit, or a florin (written 2/-)
30 pennies = half a crown or a dollar (but written 2/6d)
120 pennies = 10 shilling (paper note) or a ten bob note.(written 10/-)
240 pennies or 20 shillings = 1 pound, or a quid.
250 pennies or 21 shillings = 1 guinea (£1 / 1/-)

This is what a coin should look like.  Solid and dependable

When you had to do some calculations involving money you had to follow these rules.

3 columns, headed £    S    d  (This is where the old term Lsd comes from.  Not, I should hasten to add, Lysergic acid diethylamide) were created and all monies were carefully written down in the appropriate column.
Add up all the pennies, divide the resultant total by 12.  The remainder stayed in the pennies column, the integer was carried over into the Shilling column.  Add up all the shillings, divide the resultant total by 20.  The remainder stayed in the shillings column, the integer was carried over onto the pound column. Add up all the pounds.

The British resisted the introduction of decimal currency for decades. 

The reason being that it was too complicated.
Too complicated

I'm not even going in to the liquid and weight measurements, life's too short, and we're all too sane.

However, I had a half crown.  I could either buy 5 Blackcurrant Mivvis ( my favourite type of ice cream lolly, where the centre is "Cornish" Ice Cream and is surrounded by a blackcurrant water-ice layer) or I could buy a book.

I bought a book.

I bought Isaac Asimov's Foundation in a paperback format by Panther Books, cost 2/6.  (HALF A CROWN. Pay attention for goodness sake.)

I've been buying books ever since.

I cannot get to sleep at bedtime without a book to read.  I hate just sitting having a coffee on my own without a book.

I really think I'd rather read a book than have sex, but please don't tell my Beloved.

I think I read about 3-4 books a week, now mostly in e-book form on my trusty Kobo.

Patience_Crabstick in her lovely blog Fatuous Observations has produced a list of the classics that she recommends to her readers.

Although I admire Patience's style and most of her content I cannot agree that the classics make a good read for me.

I must admit every so-called-classic I've attempted to read has been, to me, unreadable.  It's either boring, has no point, has no plot, talks about f*cking emotions and f*cking feelings all of the time, uses archaic language and usage and most, seemingly discuss how women find a soul-mate, a partner, a mug.

So what do I look for in a book?

I want a story

Every story should have a start, a middle and an end.

I don't mind chronological mixing of plots, with flashbacks and flashforwards, but there has to be some logical structure.

There has to be good guys and bad guys, and the good guys HAVE TO WIN.

Aliens, and very, very big explosions are a plus.  So are new type of weapons.
But all must be logically constructed and have at least a passing link to factual science. Unless of course we're talking about magic/fantasy books, when almost anything goes. As long as the logical structure remains.
I don't want any existentialist crap about the goodness of being bad. 
I want the bad guys dead or (if in the interests of P f*cking C) sent to prison for the rest of their natural.
He's bad.  He must die
He's good.  He must live.  And win.

Good guys can go bad, and bad guys can become good, I don't mind, but at the end of the story I want the body count to be in the favour of the good guys/cause.

As much sex as is needed for the plot. I'm not in favour of any gratuitous sex, but when it's required I'll read it.

Technical details MUST BE F*CKING CORRECT.

I can remember about 20 years ago in Scotland, buying a book which had just soared into the best-seller charts. Its plot had something to do with a resurgent India facing off against the villainous Australians/Chinese or some such crap plot, with the yanks being dragged in somewhere along the lines.

I wasn't too bothered, but I bought the book and went to the local Starbucks for a Latte and a read.


By the second chapter, the idiot who was the author had an Indian FA2 Harrier fly close to a French guided missile destroyer which engaged the Harrier with an Exocet.

Exocet is a surface-to surface missile used quite effectively against RN ships by the dagos of Argentina, but is not really capable against aircraft. 
No, that's incorrect.
The only way an Exocet could shoot down a Harrier was if the Harrier was actually sitting on a ship's flight deck at the time.  The Exocet doesn't rise above 10 metres from the sea level during its attack, and most aircraft tend to fly a little higher than that.  And faster.  The Exocet travels just under the speed of sound.(315m/s)
An Exocet is a sea-skimmer you idiot!

Technical inaccuracies infuriate me.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, the goodies HAVE to win.

There has to be a happy ending.  Even if everyone dies in the end, there has to be some positive element.  Like "On the Beach"; everyone dies, but the good die happy and fulfilled and after f*cking Ava Gardner.

Sometimes I think I've got the addiction licked.
Then a new book by a favoured author is released, and I realise I'm just fooling myself.

I'll be hooked on books until I shuffle off this mortal coil.

It could be worse.

I could be addicted to Smack, Crack, P, Meth Heroin, Alcohol, or even *shudder* clothes.
Thank goodness I don't give a shit about clothes, or style.


  1. Always loved The Goodies myself.

    {read that any way you want!}

  2. Give me a grand fight between good and evil anytime.
    Who can go to sleep without reading? Only bad guys.

  3. Alistair: That's actually a very subtly amusing comment. Well done.
    I would like to write an appropriate subtle reply, but I used up the last of my subtlety in 2004.

    Austan: Oh yes, So many of us need to read before sleep, it doesn't really matter what it is, just words on a page.

  4. Morning TSB. I'm running late and I'm a slow reader.

  5. When I find a classic that meets your requirements, I will certainly let you know. ;)

    Thanks for the comprehensive explanation of British money. There is frequent reference to money in the classic British lit that I like to read and while I've been able to figure out from the context that a farthing is not very much money at all, and that half a crown isn't a lot either, but more than a farthing, it's nice to have a guide to refer to.

  6. Richard: I'm running a bit late myself; see tomorrow's blog for further details, if you have a strong stomach.

    Patience_Crabstick: Thanks, I appreciate it. It was a wee bit strange living in those days, mind you as a kid of 5, the farthing was just being withdrawn from circulation (1957)

  7. I'm like you - I dissed a complete novel as apparently a 2CV that was used in a ram to free our hero then had to stop in a cloud of steam from the punctured radiator... errr... custom job then, only ever seen an air cooled one!

  8. Furtheron: Yep you spotted the main absurd mistake.

    Followed I hope by the second, which is that a 2CV couldn't ram it's way through a wet paper bag.

  9. Just found your blog over at Furtheron's with a whole group of other blogs at Silverstream (what a lovely name for a place) . . . I'd promised myself not to click on any new blogs due to lack of time . . . But I just couldn't help myself. Obviously this "other posts you might like" caught my attention.
    I loved the old thre'penny bits, we used to collect them in Smartie tubes for "the poor kids"
    Nice Blog. I'm hooked ;-0

    1. Hiya bugerlugs63, and welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment.

      It was the silver thrupnies that we used to use in Christmas pudding, but it was the duodecimal sided brass ones that were lovely to handle.

      Oh, oh, Smartie tubes. Goodness that takes me back.
      I used to love the way that you could "pop" them after finishing the Smarties.

      We would place them on the school desk, line them up with an enemy and then smash the tube flat with a hand. The plastic end cap would shoot out with a loud pop.

      Great days, great days.


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