qatsi (qatsi) wrote,

Penny for 'em

Book Review: Personal Perspectives, by Brian Redhead
I can't quite work out the business model that allows people to sell secondhand books on Amazon for 1p - presumably it must be the way the postage credit works out - and it was with a slight unease that I bought this book a while back.

When I switched to high school, there was an abrupt shift in the nature of school assemblies, which became much more secular. I remember that one of the deputy heads was very fond of citing Brian Redhead, and I now regret not seeking him out at the time. This relatively short volume of collected journalism dates mostly from the late 1980s through to the early 1990s, his last years, and in many ways it is the anti-Boris Johnson. So there's a lot I agree with Redhead on politically, though not everything. His charmingly Old Labour views on the elderly and particularly state pension provision seem incredibly naïve to me, but that's probably a generational thing. Likewise, I don't agree with his views on the metric system - in fact nor would my mother, who has strongly voiced the conviction that metric measurement ought to have been forced on us wholesale long ago, not because she would have liked it, but because it would have avoided the perpetual state of confusion between units. (I think in Celsius and metres, but in miles per hour, and swing both ways when it comes to grams and ounces). But there is certainly one Canutesque theme of Redhead's that I do agree with - that of not adopting "Summer Time" all year round, or even "Double Summer Time". Strictly speaking, France and Spain ought to run on GMT/BST as well, though it probably doesn't matter so much at the lower latitudes.

Most of the writing is not particularly political; in fact local history and customs are well represented too. I had wondered - I'm not sure why - whether there might be too much God-bothering for my tastes, but there isn't. Some pieces feel a bit dated, but by and large the writing is just as witty and intelligent as you would hope.
Tags: books
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