Sunday, 31 May 2009

What am I to think about this?

From today's Amazon ratings. Should I be proud or ashamed? Answers on a postcard please.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

The paperback arrives!

This week, the small format paperback of Real England is published. It looks great, and if you don't own the book already, there is really no excuse now. Not least because it's half the price it was before.

And if you still need persuading, maybe today's excellent review in the Guardian will make your mind up. It certainly made my day. How's about this for an opening paragraph:
I occasionally say of a book that it is important, and that everyone should read it; this time I say so more emphatically than ever. I would like Gordon Brown to be strapped into a chair and have it read to him. And not let out of it again until he has given Paul Kingsnorth a powerful position in government.
Can't see this happening, I must say, and I think it would be a pretty suicidal career move anyway (though I wouldn't say no to the allowances.) But it's the thought that counts. And this thought is even better:
Kingsnorth follows in the tradition of Cobbett (who first identified the crushing of the spirit of place by the impersonal and often corrupt rapaciousness of the profit motive as "the Thing") and Orwell, united by a love of ordinary humanity.
I shouldn't be boasting really (it's not very English) but I've waited fifteen years to be compared, even fleetingly, to Orwell, and it probably won't happen again. So what the hell.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

The reverse curse of Real England

Over the last few months, I've had occasion to report some good news stories about some of the campaigns featured in Real England. Now, two more developments are beginning to make it look like a trend. It seems that featuring in the book bestows on a campaign a reverse curse; a weird kind of gypsy blessing. It's starting to look like more than a coincidence. I mean, look at the evidence:

Queens' Market
I wrote in Real England of the campaign to save this ancient, diverse street market in east London from predatory developers. Yesterday, I was told that London's mayor, Boris Johnson, has turned down the developers' planning application, against all expectations. The campaigners are understandably thrilled.

The pubs of England
Years of determined campaigning by landlords, some of them featured prominently in Real England has led, this week, to a damning parliamentary report which recommends the government takes action against the power of the Pub Companies which are driving so many pubs to the wall. Just watch those share prices plummet ...

Castlemill Boatyard
Oxford's last public boatyard has successfully fought off two advances by developers since featuring in the book. Now locals hope to buy it for the community.

Sheringham vs Tesco
Despite the fears I wrote about in the book, one of the last towns in England without a superstore has comprehensively rejected the advances of Tesco.

Saving Chinatown
A fierce campaign by residents and shopkeepers put paid to an attempt at creating a 'Chinese themed shopping mall' that wouldn't have involved any actual Chinese people.

Now we just have to hope that the wider trends start to be counteracted. A tougher battle, that one, but with global recession and the ongoing collapse of parliament, everything is starting to look possible after all...