Jay Williams

The Bleeding Edge

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This is an entertaining book. Hughes has a genuinely pleasing turn of phrase, for example: “The data explosion — how the cloud became a juggernaut”.

The book makes many interesting comments about the history of computing both in terms of software and hardware. And undoubtedly Hughes is on the right side of history and wants to explode the idea that capitalism is the most technologically dynamic system possible. However, there’s a but coming, and it is rather a long one.

Black and British: A Forgotten History

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As part of the BBC’s Black and British season, running throughout November, historian David Olusoga presents this four-part documentary on the black presence in Britain.

The programme opens with repeated images of the quintessentially green and pleasant British landscape. Olusoga’s aim is to project black presence not onto but into this scene. In a sweep from Roman Britain to the present, he describes how black and British history are intertwined.

The Collected Poems and Drawings of Stevie Smith

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Stevie Smith is best known for her poem “Not Waving but Drowning”. The metaphor in the title serves as a guide to much of her poetry:

I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

It is a theme that recurs in her poetry. For instance, in “The Reason” she states:

My life is vile
I hate it so
I’ll wait a while
And then I’ll go.

The Year of the Runaways

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The Year of the Runaways is a very timely novel depicting the lives of Indian immigrants and the dynamics which force people into risking their lives to travel to an alien society.

Sahota carefully conveys the alien nature of English society. He frequently uses Punjabi words and phrases, which will have the diligent reader researching, but also serves to highlight the difficulties of working outside of one’s native language.

The Absence of War

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David Hare’s play, written after the failure of Labour’s general election campaign of 1992, was prophetic in regard to Tony Blair’s New Labour project and it also has resonance for Ed Miliband today. After its run in Sheffield, Jeremy Herrin’s latest production is due to tour ten provincial theatres in the run-up to this year’s general election. The staging is bare and Brechtian, as in places is Hare’s writing.

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