By Alex James
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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Vanlilith said on Oct 06, 2013, 09:01
Tatiana Shafer said on Aug 25, 2013, 23:57
<blockquote>So Graham and Damon and I met in the studio on the last day of the first term. Damon had the keys, as he was sort of an assistant there. There were a couple of things that Damon and Graham had been working on together that we bashed around for a while. I showed them some chords that I’d been strumming in my room. Graham started to play them on the guitar, there was a drum machine going boom whack and I started grooving along on the bass that was lying around. Damon started jumping up and down and saying, ‘Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! You’re a natural!’ He got his lyrics book out and started singing, ‘She is so high, she is so high.’ It all happened there and then. It was instantaneous, shockingly so. Graham wrote the lyrics for the verse, over the same chords, and sang a backing vocal on the choruses. I’d never been in a band with backing vocals. The two of them sang really well together, they’d been doing it for years. We made a tape and I went home for Christmas thinking, ‘I’m in the best band in the world.’</blockquote>
Even if you don't fancy Blur or even if you've never heard them, this is a good memoir. Even though James may seem to have his head up his own arse at times because of his wealth and the sheer amount of silly things he's been up to because of it - whether it be purchasing an aeroplane or wasting thousands of pounds per night getting drunk with models - his style of writing drew me in.
Short sentences telling stuff like it was, according to no-one but himself.
James saw himself as a rock star, and as such, he wanted to live up to the myth, combining alcohol and bad behaviour all over the globe.
<blockquote>I was really drunk by that point and I went down to the bar to have a fight. Bruce Dickinson was at the bar. I hate Iron Maiden. They’re devil-worshipping ponces. I said, ‘The devil can suck my cock and you can kiss his arse, you fucking poodle.’ He got me in a headlock and sucked the end of my nose really hard. I was laughing quite a lot, not really resisting. We left it at that.</blockquote>
Point to Dickinson, there.
<blockquote>I was still enjoying my lack of responsibilities. Being able to have whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, had made me grotesque and self-centred, but there was a huge upside to being cash rich and morally bankrupt.</blockquote>
From an art school background to riches as Blur recorded their first album with Stephen Street producing it, alcohol and deviant behaviour led James to be unfaithful to his then-girlfriend. A lot.
<blockquote>The first time I was unfaithful to Justine was about halfway through the first year at Goldsmiths. I was in London. She was in Bournemouth. I was drunk. It wasn’t premeditated. It was a brief pornographic fantasy scenario with someone I’d never seen before, never saw again. I regretted it terribly and confessed. Justine was devastated, more hurt than angry. We both cried a lot and I knew I’d never do it again. Of course, there were pretty girls at college. I flirted with one or two of them, but I never had any intention of getting involved. I suppose, if I’m brutally honest, if I’d fallen in love with somebody else, I would have been a bit stupid to stay with Justine, but I didn’t. I wanted to be with her. The second time was a real disgrace. I snogged Raych. She wasn’t going out with Adam any more, but he still loved her, I think. He was long gone, but when I thought about it afterwards it seemed like a double whammy of treachery against him and against Justine. It was only a quick affectionate snog, but I definitely fancied Raych, which made it a worse crime. I didn’t tell Jus about that. Andrea, the singer from the Darling Buds, was a pin-up platinum blonde and that was the third time. The world had started to open up to us and it appeared there was no town that didn’t have beautiful women I could have married or interesting people I could have quite happily spent my life with.</blockquote>
<blockquote>Another one-night stand. It wasn’t like I pursued these women. It was suddenly as simple as not resisting. Still, I was more than willing and it was the same act of betrayal. There were so many reasons to say yes and only one reason to say no, and she was an ocean away.</blockquote>
There are no swan songs re. the bad times, which is very refreshing:
<blockquote>The album had stopped selling and Woolworths returned quite a lot of copies. Then a really big bill came from the VAT man and we couldn’t afford to pay it. It was serious. I had no idea what VAT was. I was good at playing the bass and showing off. That was my job. We trusted our manager to make sure that those kinds of unpleasantnesses were taken care of. It turned out that quite a lot of bills remained unpaid. We owed everybody money. We brought in new accountants, who told us we were staring bankruptcy in the face and facing prison if we couldn’t come up with the cash to pay the VAT. Whenever this happens it’s time to start looking for a new manager.</blockquote>
And there's always a breath of fresh air when James writes about unusual stuff very up front, e.g.:
<blockquote>There was a bottle of Tabasco on the bar, for Bloody Marys. He said, ‘Watch this!’ and necked the whole thing. Temporarily, he went into convulsions and was sick. Then the hiccups started. They were the biggest hiccups I’ve ever seen. There was an element of sneeze in each hiccup, and each one possessed his entire body. It wasn’t deadly serious, but we were supposed to be onstage in twenty minutes. We went on late. I smashed a guitar and a few drums. Having destroyed backstage, Damon tore into the front of house. Dave swan-dived into the crowd and was devoured, so I finished the drums off. We hadn’t done that for a while. It is very satisfying to make a lot of noise and break stuff.</blockquote>
<blockquote>I’d done a fair bit of hobnobbing with famous people by this time. They didn’t seem to have anything in common, particularly. Famous people generally seemed like everybody else, only a bit more famous. Rich people aren’t particularly different from anyone else either. They’ve just got more money. Fame is just another kind of money. It can do things that money can’t, but it’s just a currency. No one ever loved anyone because they were rich. No one ever really loved anyone because they were famous, but it’s an attractive quality.</blockquote>
On what really matters in the end:
<blockquote>On Boxing Day I went back to London to get Tabitha and took her to a hotel where I’d always wanted to stay, in Corfe Castle in rural Dorset. Suddenly we were alone and it was very still and quiet. Immaculate. We walked to Kimmeridge, my favourite place, and I built a big bonfire. There’s absolutely nothing to do there, just fossils and shells and rock pools. It’s where you realise if you love someone or not. I felt a bit bored. It was surprising. She was possibly the most beautiful woman in the world. I thought success would be the answer to everything. I’d climbed a hill and seen a mountain in the distance. I climbed the mountain and I saw the moon. I somehow got to the moon and realised I’d left what I loved behind in another world. I missed Justine. I’d come all this way to realise I really was happiest with what I already had. It was a journey that had to be made. I wanted it all. I’d never felt I wanted to escape from Justine. I’d just lost her. I just wanted to sit and be quiet with her, listen to her thoughts and make her laugh.</blockquote>
There are some reminisces on alcohol and adventures:
<blockquote>When I woke up I was in her bedroom. I was emptying my bladder all over her dressing table. People had told me about this kind of thing. It had never happened to me before, though. She woke up and asked what I was doing. I said it looked like I’d made a big mistake. We cleaned it up. We’d only known each other a couple of hours and I don’t think anyone could have been any more drunk than I was. Usually being that drunk would make you unconscious, but with absinthe you go on expeditions. I did see her again. Some people you try and make a good impression on and nothing works, others you piss all over their make-up and they’ve decided they like you and it doesn’t seem to matter. Anyway, that was the only time I ever went to Richmond.</blockquote>
On being a tourist:
<blockquote>We live in a climate of fear, but the world is a safe place as long as you know how to behave like everybody else does. If you stand around holding a map waving a video camera with your shirt tucked into your waist-high trousers, you’re in trouble wherever you go. Millions of people live in Rio, after all, and they eat salad and have ice in their drinks and they don’t get murdered very often.</blockquote>
Wealth and no morale:
<blockquote>I’d spent about a million pounds on champagne and cocaine. It sounds ridiculous but, looking back, I don’t regret it. It was definitely the right thing to do. It was completely decadent, but I was a rock star, after all, a proper one, with a public duty to perform.</blockquote>
<blockquote>Claire was worried about me starting my new drinking campaign in January. She’d only known me sober. I assured her that I was very good at it. It was February and a nice man called Bill was saying, ‘And tell me what you remember about the party.’ ‘Well, I remember swapping shirts with the principal dancer of the Royal Ballet Company.’ ‘OK. Good. What next?’ ‘I think I snogged the dog.’ ‘Right. OK. Then what happened?’ ‘Well, I had a row with Claire and went home. I locked her out, and when she was banging on the door, I pissed on her head from the fourth-storey window.’ ‘Why did you do that?’ ‘Well, that’s what she wants to know.’ ‘Anything else happen?’ ‘No, not that night, anyway.’ Bill was kind and he listened and he helped me and I stopped drinking altogether after that and tried yoga.</blockquote>
And somehow, the feel of the book is stashed in a single sentence:
<blockquote>I sometimes found it excruciatingly funny and begged them to stop, and sometimes I just begged them to stop.</blockquote>
All in all: a really interesting tale of the love for music, but mainly on friendship, the loss of ethics and love due to alcohol and drugs, and little thoughts on life and what matters and not.
Niklas Pivic said on Jan 28, 2013, 06:09
"Mi è appena tornato in mente qualcosa di terribile che ho sentito dire a proposito dell'Italia."
Ivy si tamponò l'angolo dell'occhio con un fazzoletto in un eccesso di sentimento.
"Oh, fatico anche solo a parlarne... Ho sentito dire che in Italia bevono - fece una pausa - caffé!"
Tra ubriacature imputabili alla formaldeide, incredibili armi contro le creature soprannaturali (rigorosamente a base di aglio e basilico) e coccinelle assassine, le avventure di Alexia continuano e non deludono le aspettative.
Il solito adorabile pragmatismo stemperato da una non troppo inaspettata fragilità non possono non conquistare facendo amare la nostra preternaturale preferita sempre di più.
Scandali, incomprensioni e templari condiscono questo terzo capitolo del Protettorato del Parasole.
Divertente, irriverente, imperdibile.
kaya the fae said on Dec 21, 2012, 23:52
La serie "The parasol protectorate" è sicuramente una delle migliori che io abbia letto ultimamente.. Semplicemente geniale! E la Carriger ti fa amare tutti i personaggi indistintamente.. Sono dei miti! Il Professor Lyall è fantastico, chissà come se la caverebbe Lord Maccon senza di lui!
Scene epiche, in alcuni punti ho riso come un'indemoniata..
Una tra i tanti eredi del witticism di Wilde è senza dubbio la Carriger..!!
Madame Lefoux and I are traveling to Italy, for my low spirits, you understand."
"Oh dear, but, Alexia, you do realize" - Ivy lowered her voice to a whisper - "that Italy is where they keep Italians! [...] I understand that Italy is the place vegetables come from -all that weather. Terribly bad for the digestion - vegetables".
"I remembered that awful thing I had heard about Italy." Ivy dabbed at the corner of one eye with her handkerchief in an excess of sentiment. "What I heard... Oh, I can hardly speak of it... I heard that in Italy they drink" -she paused- "coffee".
"I mean to say, really, I am near to developing a neurosis -is there anyonearound who doesn't want to study or kill me?"
Floote raised a tentative hand.
"Ah, yes, thank you, Floote".
Serena [No rain,... said on Oct 24, 2012, 14:32
Xander Lavelle said on Mar 23, 2012, 08:19
La nostra simpatica Alexia si trova in una difficile situazione,ripudiata dal marito, costretta a tornare a casa della madre, la notizia della sua gravitanza ha fatto scandalo nella bigotta società londinese.Ma lei è decisa a saperne di più e parte per l'Italia. Naturalmente non sarà un viaggio tranquillo. Comica la figura di Lord Maccon che si ubriaca con la formaldeide. Il finale è romantico e divertente.La scrittrice mantiene alto il livello di scrittura anche con questo terzo volume e la curiosità cresce per conoscere le avventure che vivrà Alexia.
lidiag said on Feb 20, 2012, 13:19
Parasol Protectorate 大系第三集故事直接延續第二集結尾的驚變（講出來等於爆第二集的大雷，所以不可說）。女主角 Alexia Tarabotti 遭丈夫逐出家門，連娘家都待不下去（不論是主客觀因素使然），只好和不離不棄的友人群共商損害管制大計，最後決定出國遠赴義大利「尋根」，好釐清謎團。
故事就此話分兩頭：主線當然是 Alexia 偕同忠心老管家 Floote 和女同發明家 Madam Lefoux 取道法國前往佛羅倫斯的過程；途中除了陸續和法籍（好人）、德籍（無良狂熱者）科學家探究 preternatural 的生命特質，一路上還遭遇英國吸血鬼前仆後繼地追殺，甚至到了義大利，所接觸到的教廷代表──聖殿騎士團其實也沒安什麼好心眼。
而留在倫敦的狼人家族老二兼 BUR 副手 Lyall 教授也完全沒閒著。他不但要處理老大 Lord Maccon 失意失神之際所留下來的外患問題；Alexia 的吸血鬼好友 Lord Akeldama 突然無端失蹤，以及狼人與吸血鬼之間檯面下近乎內戰的對立場面幾乎也得靠他全權收拾。
在雙線主軸極為明確，世界設定也逐漸明朗的情況下，本書的表現大幅優於前作。Carriger 已經可以掌握故事發展的節奏，動腦和動手的場子分配極為恰當，不時出現的 steampunk 機關佈景和偽‧科學理論推導令人眼睛一亮，尤其後者讓我眼界大開，對於整個大系的「科學理論面」，不再像讀第二集的時候那樣想當然耳。
功能性角色的刻劃原本就是作者的強項，本集的配角群一樣保持既有水準，在引導驅動事件方面貢獻良多。不但新進角色表現突出，第二集看起來頗為科科的某些安排也在這裡發揮作用，因此也不得不佩服 Carriger 的巧思。主要角色部分，Alexia 和 Lyall 教授的表現自然不在話下；倒是 Lord Maccon 清醒前後差異甚大，不禁令人懷疑作者對他也太過厚愛。
不過換個角度想，Carriger 如此安排似乎隱含著在矯揉造作的十九世紀上流社會中偷渡女性自覺意識的可能。Madam Lefoux 的性別認同、Lord Akeldama 帶有愉虐式對旗下美少男的溺愛直接展露於外，Maccon 夫婦的互動方式更是值得玩味：在保有傳統羅曼史的既有型態之餘，女性一方還是有其強勢發揮的餘地。
基本上整個大系發展至此，應該可以穩定延續，結合 steampunk、urban fantasy、alternate history 等熱門元素的創作手段也終於收到成效。只差在主角親友團的政經掌握太過威猛，恐怕未來還得幫他們找足以匹敵的對手，就看作者 Carriger 如何繼續經營了。
DaNee said on Nov 25, 2010, 07:22
Daring, decadent and deliciously unapologetic, the bassist from one of my favourite bands tells all. A quick and thoroughly enjoyable read - late 90's Britpop era England in all its cocaine fueled excess.
M said on Jan 09, 2010, 11:30
Da zero a diecimila in 100 secondi.
L'ascesa di un gruppo di amici del college da nullità a rockstar, raccontata in prima persona da uno di loro.
James scrive bene, sa essere autoironico e divertente. Non tralascia niente. Ideale per i fan dei Blur e per tutti quelli che hanno vissuto - anche solo da lontano - l'epopea del brit pop
Colas said on Oct 12, 2009, 07:11