Book review: Mick Foley – Foley is Good! And how the real world is faker than wrestling

As you will see in this post I read Mick Foley’s first autobiography earlier this year and enjoyed it very much to the point that I ended up on YouTube watching old matches from the 90’s and early 00’s, reliving my younger years of playing WWF games on the PS1. Having been offered the chance to read this follow-up which covers the next year or so following the release of Have a Nice Day! and fills in any gaps I instantly accepted.

In a similar manner to his previous book Mick Foley/Mankind/Cactus Jack shares various anecdotes and opinions on the classic – and not so classic in some instances – matches he has played over his many years in professional wrestling. Further to this he also tells the reader of how he decided to not have a ghostwriter compose his book and instead sit on planes, sofas and dressing room floors, writing the entire 5-600 page book in longhand. And what a journey it appears to have been. Mick Foley’s writing is book in-depth but also funny and lighthearted and has the ability to pull in readers who take very little interest in wrestling these days. It’s also displayed that he’s very much a family man who enjoys spending time with his wife and kids and visiting theme parks. Maybe he should have instead been called “Nuclear Jack”.

The first three quarters of the book focus on Mick Foley himself and the journey towards becoming the commissioner for WWE, whereas the final quarter, which could have been a book itself, is a study on the stigma (mostly from politicians and over-protective parents’ groups) that wrestling is an extremely violent sport which could encourage viewers to attack others because they think it’s a safe thing to do. Within this study Foley makes comparisons between wrestling and kids’ films like Home Alone which is shown every Christmas and laughed at by children and adults alike. He notes that while wrestling is performed by professionals who, despite there being pain, know how to cause this pain safely, Home Alone has scenes in which the burglars step on nails, slip on ice and get whacked in the face with irons, all of which could cause significant and, sometimes, permanent damage.

The study is extremely interesting and really gives an insight into certain subjective opinions on wrestling. Even if wrestling isn’t your sort of “thing”, this study is still worth a read. And so is the book for that matter.

Book review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Since seeing the 1971 film adaptation of this 1960s novel three years ago I’d been wanting to read A Clockwork Orange. However it took me quite some time to get my hands on the book, but, finally, this year, I managed to add it to my bookshelves. 

A Clockwork Orange tells the story of narrator Alex and the antics he and his “droogs” get up to in the later hours of the night in what is apparently now a utopian world. Sitting in a milk bar they begin by having some drinks with the “babooshkas” before going out into the night and performing toe-curling acts on the innocent public, including attacking a teacher in the middle of the street and stamping on his false teeth and breaking into a house before attacking a man and raping his wife. 

After being caught, however, Alex, who refers to himself as “Your Humble Narrator”, is subjected to an intense form of video conditioning which, once finished, causes him to feel sick or throw up every time he thinks about or considers being violent towards another person or animal. 

The novel is unique and very cleverly written in that Burgess has managed to create his own Russian-inspired language of the teenagers known as “nadsat”, creating somewhat ironic or contradictory terms such as “horrorshow” (good), “starry” (dirty) and “gulliver” (head – also a nod towards the writer Jonathan Swift). At the beginning this language can cause the reader some confusion and they’ll have to read back to the translations in the introduction, but once you get going, it becomes fairly easy to understand. Furthermore, in what seems an attempt to make the narrator appear old-fashioned, the reader is “directly” spoken to by ending some sentences with “o, my brothers”.

Weird, wonderful and occasionally confusing I have a feeling A Clockwork Orange is going to be a book that will stick with me for a long time. What makes everything even better is that I visited the first boot sale of the year this morning and managed to pick up a copy of the film. Perfect timing there, stall owner.

Update: ECDP, work placements and stuff

Look at me go! Two updates in a month… I really must get myself back on the blogging bus again. Check back in a month to see whether this has been achieved.

So, what’s been happening? 

Firstly, I’ve been attending an eight week course at the ECDP (Essex Coalition of Disabled People) in Chelmsford during which in the first week we were treated to five days of intense training in building our self-everything and preparation for employment. These past 3 weeks i’d been attending a work placement at Family Mosaic, also in Chelmsford, but due to lack or organisation on their behalf, I had to leave that placement and on Monday I’ll be starting in the patient experience department of Broomfield Hospital, a place which has treated me for many injuries over the years, so I’m feeling excited about that.

In regards to books I’ve been doing a lot of reading and am currently on my 12th book of the year with a final target of 45. I realise it’s a somewhat ambitious target, but at the rate I’m going (approximately 4 books a month) I’m feeling confident it’s achievable. I just need to remember to do the washing up as soon as I get in daily to avoid any sudden distractions or obstacles. At the moment I’m reading Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (which was made into a film of the same name by Stanley Kubrick in 1971) which, although fairly short, can also be a bit challenging with the Russian-inspired language the book is narrated in. Have a viddy at the first few pages and get your glazzies and gulliver around the nadsat slovos if you want to viddy what I mean.

My writing world has been very uneventful recently apart from the beginnings of a short story and a bit of blogging for my placement which was soon stopped due to there being nothing new happening. Hopefully on Monday though that will change and I’ll have more to write about (including a script for an episode of Casualty, perhaps?)

I’ve also been doing a bit of painting and other artsy stuff and hoping to continue with the book trinket cases project I started at Christmas, so expect some info on that later on this decade.

Otherwise, that’s about it for now, check back in a few weeks for a possible new update and book reviews.

Book review: Tower by Nigel Jones

So, we’re back on that subject again – London, the city I moved away from 8 months ago after being unable to afford the bus fares. That, however, hasn’t stopped me from taking a quick look through the “London” shelves in the local library and taking out a book on part of London I hadn’t yet properly studied – the almighty Tower of London, that huge brick and mortar structure which almost defines our capital city. A construction which has seen almost a millennium of beheadings, hangings, castration and burnings, and (sigh) one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. 

I was fairly knowledgable of the Tower of London prior to reading this book, but, with many thanks to its extreme density, I now find myself somewhat more knowledgable. 

Despite having only 400 pages, meaning I would normally be able to finish the book in a week or less, it instead took me three weeks to read due to being extremely dense and packed with details of pretty much every significant event that has happened at the tower. 

Beginning with its first days in 1066 it tells the reader the stories of every prisoner (particularly the royals) and gives plentiful descriptions of the traitors who became victim to the popular hung, drawn and quartering so synonymous with the tower. It also goes on to tell the stories of some of the successful escapes which have been committed over time, including impersonating mourners and what may be considered the real Shawshank Redemption as a prisoner “crawled through a river of shit-stinking foulness I dread to imagine”.

When it comes to books about London I’d have to say this was one of the most informative and telling I’ve read to date, and I’ve read a lot as anybody who knows me can tell you. If the Tower of London is something you’re interested in knowing about I’d say this is the book to go for as, despite not reading any others on this subject, it’s quite clearly one of the best out there. 

10 mini book reviews for the lazy reader

Lorne Campbell – Satan’s Choice 

I came across this book in The Works and asked for it for Christmas. And for Christmas I got it. Co-written by a member of the Satan’s Choice bikers gang it tell of the many violent events which have taken place within and between members of the gang. A very good read for anyone who is interested in bikers gangs and what goes on when they party etc. 

William Wharton – Birdy

This one was bought for me by Lauren. It tells the tale of a boy who becomes obsessed with birds and keeping them as pets to the point of being convinced he’s a bird himself. Similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest it’s slightly weird but a good read nonetheless. 

John Cleese – So, Anyway…

Fawlty Towers, Monty Python and A Fish Called Wanda are just a few of this comic genius’s works and this autobiography tells of how John Cleese came to be the man he’s recognised as today. Filled with various anecdotes of his time at Cambridge and beyond it comes to a bit of an abrupt ending in the 1970’s so hopefully there’ll be a sequel which tells of his later years.

Simon Kernick – The Final Minute

It’s the beginning of the year which means a new Simon Kernick book which was purchased on the week of its release. As I knew it would be, this was another excellent read from my favourite author of the crime genre and possibly his best and fastest-paced yet with huge twists and turns.

Mick Foley/Mankind – Have a Nice Day

Mankind, also known as Mr. Nice Guy, is considered a bit of a legend in the wrestling world who has suffered uncountable injuries including having his ear ripped off and being thrown 12 feet off of a steel cage onto a pile of pins/thumb tacks. For someone who takes very little interest in wrestling these days I found this to be one of the best autobiographies I’ve read (possibly because it wasn’t written by a ghostwriter). On another note, I can back up the “Nice Guy’ nickname as I once met him when I was 12 on the set of Robot Wars and he seemed to be friendly and very willing to talk with us. Craig Charles, on the other hand, I won’t say much about.

Ryü Murakami – Audition 

Of all the fucked up films I’ve seen, Audition has to be right near the top, and the book of which it is based is just as toe-curling. With scenes of a man being paralysed and pierced all over with needles it makes one wonder what was going through the author’s mind when he sat at his desk. 

Leo Tolstoy – War and Peace

Possibly considered the epic of epics, telling people you’re reading War and Peace will usually result in an open-mouthed response of “Bloody hell! good luck with that.” The book was sat on my shelves and floors, travelling from house to house for three years until a few weeks ago when I took the dive and decided to make it my epic novel for 2015. 

Despite there being a new character introduced on every other page and travelling over many years, it was an excellent read and one I’d recommend to anybody interested in long books and the Napoleonic wars. It also contained a funny anecdote involving a character downing a bottle of rum (I thought the Rusiians liked vodka?) and proving to his friends that he still had balance by sitting on an open window ledge – something even I wouldn’t do when drinking, and I’ve burnt my nipples with a cigarette.

Robert Englund – Hollywood Monster

Freddie Krueger, the man of your nightmares, who hasn’t heard of him? Despite being classed as an autobiography Hollywood Monster is filled more with anecdotes of his time working on the sets of the Nightmare of Elm Street films. Although interesting to know what went on on these sets and what it was like being the man who invaded kids’ dreams, it would’ve been nice to also read about other films he’d worked on.

Oliver Sacks – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

One that’s been on my reading list for a long time, this book is an essential read for those who are interested in mental health and the human mind. Containing cases about people who believed they were still 29 and would hear music if they tipped their head to the left, it was interesting and made me want to read more books like this. Forget cases of phallic symbolism and cocaine rage, this is interesting psychology.

John Saul – Nathaniel 

Wanting to read some fiction after two non-fiction books I chose to read John Saul’s Nathaniel having already read Brainchild. Having been written in the 80s, the era of which I’d say horror fiction was at its peak, it was weird, engaging and finished in two days. A definite read for fans of authors such as Stephen King and Shaun Hutson.

Ridiculously late blog update

So, it’s three months into the new year and I haven’t provided any posts or reviews for four months and counting. And there I was, telling myself I was going to be frequent and consistent with my blog posts. It looks like that went right out the window and I ended up being “too busy” (by which I mean either sat on my bed devouring books or visiting the town centre to buy dinner for myself and Vimto bon-bons and newspapers for my mum) or just doing that whole saying I’ll do it tomorrow thing. Oh well, at least I’m finally getting round to it. I hope.

What’s been going on then? I’d say a fair bit myself – from beginning the ECDP work training course to reading my first epic novel of the year and getting back to writing. It was also Christmas and New Year’s at some point during that time.

Reading. What’s been going on here, then? After having it sat on my shelf glaring at me and daring me to read it for three years I finally gave in and picked up Leo Tolstoy’s epic Russian novel War and Peace. And it was good. “Bloody hell!” you and many other people will say, “That’s a bit of a task you’re taking on, innit?” And you’d be right, but isn’t life about challenges? [Insert ancient Greek philosophical quote here] More on this in my mini-reviews post later on. 

On the wonderful website/app that is Goodreads I set myself a challenge to read 45 books this year. So far I’m 11 books in and going strong. Go here for updates and details. However, as I’m about to embark on a work training course which will involve travelling to Colchester for 6 weeks on a work placement and working from 9 ’til 5, this little challenge may become compromised. Oh well.

Did I just say I was about to start on a training and work placement course? Yes? Okay. The course will involve training in admin work so I can have the experience in the environment I want to work in (until I become a bestselling author, obviously). Not only that, though, but I’ve been asked to provide a daily blog on what goes on which will be published on the course’s website (www.ecdp.org.uk). I don’t think it’s going to be a huge task, but it’ll get me writing again after going a bit flat for a while (née, a long time) add to my portfolio, and even better it’s being used by this year’s sponsor which is Barclay’s bank.

Anything else that needs to be put here has been forgotten right now so that’s this update over with. 

Peace out and other cool-person departing gestures.

Postscript: I’m aware that this update looks very rushed … That’s because it was.

Update: Graduation = inspiration = new book

I realise it’s been a month since I last posted any material on this blog, but I have some excuses here and there. My first is that it was Halloween on the 31st, and we all know what that means – dressing up (as a deranged doctor/surgeon) and attending the events at the local bars. My second excuse is that I’ve been catching up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen since I moved to London four years ago, and my third excuse is that I’d been preparing for and planning for my graduation on the 20th of November.

Yes, you read that right, I have fully graduated from uni and am no longer a “graduand”, but a graduate. It’s been five days since the event, but I still keep thinking to myself a random times, “I’ve actually graduated” on a natural high. The whole day was a lot of fun. We – Mum, Tyla and myself – arrived at the O2 dome in the early afternoon and as soon as we’d stepped through the door I was on double speed, first rushing to the registration desk before walking quickly ahead of the muv and bruv to collect my gown and hat (which had to held in place by hair pins) before having a few photos taken and going into the ceremony hall.

The ceremony was really enjoyable, particularly at the point which my classmate Sam received the award for her contribution to UEL’s community. Her speech received a standing ovation from both the creative writers and faculty (which has apparently never happened before) along with a huge cheer. It was a proud moment for everyone.

The night was then finished off with a few drinks with friends – both classmates. Thanks to the buildup to and after graduation I’ve had a huge blast of motivation come to me.

Two weeks ago I quickly wrote a couple of paragraphs describing what it feels like to have an epileptic fits and posted it to Facebook, receiving positive feedback. Soon after, I began writing <em>A Little Scratch</em>. I’ve been wanting to document my life as a person with epilepsy since before I returned to college, but never really put pen to paper or finger to keyboard. Now, however, I’m 4000 words in with approximately 500 being written each day. Before this, writing almost felt like a necessity, but now that I’ve started, it’s become enjoyable again and I’m really getting into it. Mum’s going to be writing out a list of dates and events soon, so things should be flowing very quickly in the near future.

As for <em>Eroticus</em>, not much has happened and much like I’ve done previously, it’s on the back burner again. And jobs? Huh. Still nothing.

And here we come to the abrupt end where I say that’s it for now and here’s a few pictures of me all clobbered up:

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