WHEN I worked in Africa as a schoolteacher I found that I spent quite a lot of time thinking about money. Not because I was short of money – on the contrary I had what seemed like a lot, the pink Sudanese fifty-pound notes piling up uselessly in my desk drawer. We were not paid very much, but in our village there was very little to buy. But for many others around me money was a monster that ruled their lives.
THE continent of Africa represents what is probably the biggest continental mining resource in the world. Africa is the second biggest continent, and even on the basis of known reserves it has about 30% of global mineral reserves. Africa has 40% of the world’s gold reserves, 60% of the world’s cobalt, and 90% of the world’s ‘platinum group’ of metals, plus half of the world’s chromite, half of all natural diamonds, and almost half of the world’s manganese. So why aren’t mining companies making money in Africa?
BOOK REVIEWING is a beautiful game that can quickly lead to bankruptcy. It’s a time-is-money kind of a problem: to review a book you have to read it, reading books takes time, and at normal speed reviewing books is an occupation that attracts well below the national minimum wage. So the question of the day is, how to speed up? How can you speed up not just reading, and writing, but also selecting books for review from the thousands on offer? How can you get really good at judging a book by its cover?
WHAT a library is YouTube! When I first saw it I thought, great – old clips of Johnny Cash! Now I begin to see that the library is more Alexandrian than it is special interest. The Man In Black does have a place, but so does The Woman In White, and every shade in between – and yes, that does include cult philosophers of language and linguistics …
Book Review: The Letters of Noel Coward edited by Barry Day
NOEL Coward was far and away the most successful dramatist of his day. He dominated the English-speaking stage on both sides of the Atlantic. Aged only 24 he became a star virtually overnight with the production of his 1923 play The Vortex – a work which characteristically he wrote, directed, and starred in – and he continued to excite and dazzle audiences for most of the following quarter century with works that earned him the reputation of being the most versatile (and best paid) author of his time.
Book Review: Notes From Walnut Tree Farm by Roger Deakin
ROGER Deakin, who died prematurely in 2006, played a large part in the current revival of writing about nature and landscape in Britain. He did not publish much during his life – a book about trees and their spiritual significance called Wildwood, and another about the culture of unofficial swimming, Waterlog. Yet those two books (both unexpected if minor commercial successes) managed to draw the attention of readers towards some things that were either new or neglected – the spell that the natural world can cast on the urban imagination, the teeming variety of the modest English countryside, and the oddly unexplored landscape of Deakin’s home territory, the eastern part of England known as East Anglia.