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  • My Year in Books


    It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and therefore you'll be expecting the end of year lists to start clogging up your news feeds and I have never been one to disappoint a hungry public. This year though in a break from the norm I will add a new list to that of my singles and albums of the year, this time around I will share with you all the books that I have read this year. My 2014 New Years Resolution was to read more and for once I actually fulfilled it, I have read more books this year than I have in just about the rest of my life combined. So without further ado here is my list;



    1. George Orwell - 1984

    The book that started my resurgence into the world of literature was a true classic. I had thought that if there was ever to be a piece of fiction to get me out of my slump that it would be this and I was right. I loved it, surprisingly enough I didn't really know the plot before I read it despite its classic status, yes I knew all the buzz phrases; Room 101, Big Brother, et al. but only through reading it did I really understand its importance. The first book this year and probably my favourite.

    2. Nicco Machiavelli - The Princeprince.jpg

    In truth this is a book that I really should have read previously considering it was one of the core books of my first year Politics degree but back then I just cleverly took passages that I knew would be relevant rather than reading it cover to cover. In doing so this year I discovered it a fairly harrowing read and for something originally penned in the 16th Century it is clearly still relevant to today's world. At just over 100 pages it should have been a fairly quick read but some parts I felt I had to go over couple of times for it to really sink in. A very interesting book indeed.

    brave new world.jpg3. Aldous Huxley - A Brave New World

    A Christmas present from my little sister this kept to my short lived desire to read Dystopian fiction and did not disappoint. Another classic by all accounts but, due to my embarrassingly limited knowledge of literature, a book I had not previously heard of. In reading it there are obvious comparisons with 1984 and it is easy to see in hindsight why they are the two leading lights in the field. On the whole I really enjoyed Brave New World even if I thought the last chapter was entirely unnecessary. 

    4. Karl Marx & Frederick Engels - The Communist Manifestocommunist manifesto.jpg

    Another shorty, I cheated really in my path to greater numbers, this is another that probably would have significantly enhanced my chances of getting a better mark at University but why live in regret when I can get the benefit of the knowledge 5 years later. The reading of this 'pamphlet' also coincided with the London Marx Walk that I took part in earlier this year, which as it sounds was a walk around some of the landmarks in central London that are significant in the life of Marx. Essential reading for any left leaner and still thoroughly relevant.

    shane macgowan.jpg5. Victoria Mary Clarke & Shane MacGowan - A Drink With Shane MacGowan

    This the first of the years biography section, this book was written as a question and answer session over the course of a couple of months between Shane and his wife Victoria. He comes across very much as I expected as a genius who is thoroughly out of his mind. Equal parts brilliant philosophical thought and drunken ramblings. Both give you a wonderful insight into the life of one of my favourite musicians. Quite a long read but then he has had quite an eventful life.

    6. Yevgeny Zamyatin - We we.jpg

    Another Dystopian fantasy, this one although a classic not quite as famed as the previous two. Again I had no previous knowledge of this book and only found it by searching for books in a similar vein to 1984 and Brave New World. For a short book it took me a while to get into it but when I did I found it as enjoyable a read as the others. Similar themes as expected but told in a different way, We is written as a diary of a man losing his mind/freeing himself from the state oppression. This book gained reputation across Europe far before it did in Zamyatin's native Russia, where the book was banned until relatively recently as anti-state propaganda, their loss though was the rest of the worlds gain.

    republic.jpg7. Plato - The Republic

    This one again, from my University reading list was the first book this year that I really struggled to finish. This is not to say that it isn't very interesting, it is just written in a way that is not particularly easy to read and considering that the original was written more than 2000 years ago I guess it is not too surprising. I hate to repeat or sound cliche but again this book is remarkably relevant for something that was written so long ago and some practices of a perfect democracy I would gladly see put in place today. Written as a conversation between intellectuals, the book tries to discover the ultimate good. Although not an easy read it is probably one of the more memorable books of the year.

    8. Flann O'Brien - The Third Policemanthird policeman.jpg

    It is hard to remember exactly why I chose to read this book, I bought it on the cheap off the internet, I THINK it was a recommendation from Shane MacGowan in his book. If it was I don't think I will listen to any more of his advice (On literature that is, his musical recommendations are exquisite). I found this book the hardest to read of the entire year, not that it was particularly difficult I just didn't enjoy it and I only finished it through sheer stubbornness. On the whole I am a fan of the 'weird' of this world but this seemed unnecessarily so and the ending was just the kind of ending I hate. I won't be reading any more of Mr. O'Brien's work in a hurry

    animal farm.jpg9. George Orwell - Animal Farm

    After the disappointment that was the Third Policeman I went for something that I knew I was going to enjoy and that would be short and easy to read. Having read Animal Farm previously as part of a school project I knew that it would be all of these things. Little did I know just how easy it would be, I finished it in two bus journeys in just the one day. It was just what I needed to get my year of reading back on track.

    10. George Orwell - Keep the Aspidistra Flyingkeep the aspidistra.jpg

    I had bought this and Animal Farm very cheaply in a second hand book shop in Wimbledon and after my previous two trips down Orwell way I thought this would be another delight. I'm going to be honest, I didn't love it. Not an awful lot happens throughout the book, just the decay of a privileged man. I understand the point of it but it did not capture me in the same way as 1984 or Animal Farm. Maybe it is that I prefer the political messages rather than despair at humanity angle that he has gone for in this encounter. This was another book that slowed down my reading for this same reason that I just didn't particularly enjoy the subject matter.

    how not to be.jpg11. Paul Merson - How Not to be a Professional Footballer

    This book was the easiest book that I read all year, despite being well over 300 pages I managed to polish it off in a three or four days. It isn't at all well written and not even remotely insightful, it was just some light relief. Merson's autobiography is a real gossip mag of a book concentrating on his descent into drink, drugs and gambling addiction and a small amount on his career as a professional footballer. It was a fun read and with chapter title's such as 'Do Not Shit on David Seaman's Balcony' you know what you are getting.

    12. Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451farenheit 451.jpg

    My last foray into Dystopian fiction for the year and this time the tale of futuristic firemen who rather than putting out fires are instructed to burn all books that are found in the city. It is the tale of a Fireman who after an encounter with a free spirited young lady questions his whole being. Out of the 4 Dystopian novels that I read this year this was my least favourite but it was still good. I have very much discovered this year that these not too impossible versions of future realities I find fascinating and I will be looking into reading more of them next year. 

    libertines.jpg13. Pete Welsh - Kids in the Riot: High and Low with the Libertines

    A book that I have read half way before but didn't get around to finishing back in the days when literature was not my forte. Not that you can call Pete Welsh's account of boozy nights and obscene amounts of drug abuse high literature. The Libertines being my all time favourite band I can now say that I know far more about their beginnings and what was their inevitable end back in 2004. And I can't say that given me the greatest hope that this years reunion is going to be altogether successful in the long run. Another very easy read that I finished quickly. 

     14. Jad Adams - Tony Benn: A Biographytony benn.jpg

    A bit of a cheat really this one being on the list as I am only half way through it but at over 500 pages of particularly small print I have decided that it will very likely be the book that will see out my 2014. Reading about a great politician and a wonderful man who sadly passed away earlier this year seems a fitting way to end the year. As of now I am only into his early career but it is already amazing and for bonus points it taught me the word 'Recalcitrant'. If you don't know it, look it up, its a cracker!

    And so there it is, my year in books. I have thoroughly enjoyed this new chapter in my life (excuse the pun.. or don't, its your choice), and am planning on replicating it for next year and have already collected a number of titles that I am raring to read. If you lovely readers, any recommendations would be greatly received but if I don't like them I will go on at you about it. Just being honest. In the coming weeks expect my usual best of music lists for singles and albums. See y'all


  • Gregory J. Draper

    For those that don't know, this is my brother, he is 3 years older than me (26) and is heavily disabled. Gregory has been afflicted since birth with CHARGE syndrome which is very complex but the obvious symptoms you will see in him is deafblindness as well as not talking. 


    This weekend, 3rd & 4th December 2011 was the first time tat Gregory has come home since mum died back in February. Don't get me wrong we have seen him plenty of times at his home near Guildford but through a mixture of fear and disorganisation he hasn't been here. So this weekend was always going to be a tough one but it was necessary as we hope to have him home for Christmas. 

    A number of things have happened since the last time Gregory was here barring the obvious mentioned above; I have got my new job caring for people with disabilities and Gregory has progressed a lot at his home since his giving up of musical toys. I will start with the latter and move backwards. 

    Gregory, from a young age has been obsessed with children's musical toys, the kind that play a generic, repetitive tune. Gregs would play with them all day and all night... greg2.jpgand then all of the next day... and all of the next night, you get the idea. Being family we only saw the positives of this, that they were bringing him immediate joy and not the side affects that they were causing him to wind himself up and get agitated. It took a number of years but this was noticed at his home and they slowly started phasing out his toy usage and sure as anything his behaviour improved drastically. Over the course of the last year this affect has continued to show with his sleeping and eating improving as well has his attitude towards doing outside activities, he now does things such as bowling, boating and even archery. 

    Onto my 'new' job, I invert that due to the fact that I have now been in the position for over 5 months and thus it probably doesn't constitute new anymore although I am still within my probation period until December 27th. My official title is a Support Worker and I get to do all sorts of things from serving food to people with disabilities to taking them out to exciting places such as bowling alleys, parks, restaurants, cinemas etc. It is a very rewarding job and one that is nothing like anything I have done before. Through this job I have gone on training courses to learn the likes of first aid and food hygiene as well as how to protect vulnerable people. All of this training has definitely affected how I treat my brother now though. I still see him through family eyes as before but rather than just pandering to his every desire as I would have in the past I now can see that some things can be done to benefit him better in the long term.


    Anyway back to this weekend and how the above has come into play. When Gregory first got home he seemed confused about where he was but within 10-15 minutes he seemed to remember everything about the house which is astonishing considering his lack of vision. At first Dad and I were pandering to him and gave him chocolate bar after chocolate bar but soon even Gregory grew tired of that and so we made him some real food which he ate happily. Soon after Gregory went upstairs and was looking for his toys. greg1.jpgNow, even as the home were phasing out the toys there were always some here at our house but not any more... Gregory felt around the room for a while but to no avail and this is where my instincts from my job kicked in. I found a radio, turned it on and gave it to him. In bygone times he would have destroyed it in seconds but his improved behaviour meant that he patiently listened to it and because, unlike his old toys it wasn't a repetitive pattern he wasn't working himself up. A perfect solution! Furthermore though I started to notice a pattern in his behaviour towards individual songs on the radio, to some he noticeably was dancing to some he was fiddling with the buttons (on the toys pressing buttons would change the tune). I found this intriguing for the first time ever I could actually see and define my brother's taste in music, some of it I approve of he took a real shine to Vampire Weekend's 'Holiday' but unfortunately he did also seem to enjoy Olly Murs which I can't say I agree with. 

    We listened to music in his room for a couple of hours before Gregs decided to go downstairs for a bit and try and raid the cupboards for some more chocolate. I was having none of it now though and I convinced him that it would make him feel sick. Family and friends came to see him and then left and it was getting towards midnight with him just relaxing downstairs. He had a few angry shouts throughout the evening but nothing major, a definite improvement on his behaviour of old. One behaviour really hasn't changed though and that is his lack of sleep, even when both he and I know he is tired he fights it and tries to stay awake and so here I am at 3:30 in the morning watching over him and writing this blog. He has settled down though so fingers crossed I won't have to stay up too much longer!



  • Bored at Work


    It was only last week that I emailed hasbro, the board games company, whilst at work. I was curious to know if the reasoning behind the rule where you role 3 doubles in a row in monopoly and go to jail is because this represents speeding down the streets of London. I did get a courtesy email in reply saying that my email had been forwarded on to the necessary people but since that, nothing which is a shame.


    Before that, just after the world cup I emailed the sea life centre in Germany where paul the octopus was being kept. I asked them if I could challenge the psychic cephalopod to a game of heads and tails. All I asked is that I flick a coin 7 times and if the octopus got it correct I would happily admit it was psychic. Unfortunately on that occasion I didn't even get a reply.


    So today I got a chance to email a member of my HR team for a genuine reason. The company had put out its quarterly news letter and right at the back there was a competition to guess the weight of a fish caught by a member of the HR team on her recent holiday.

    Oh how I excited I was, this would be the most fun I had all day. So as soon as I got back to my computer I searched the internet for a rough estimate at the weight of the fish and then I sent me an email. It read as follows:


    "To: 'Pam.Chapman@serco.com'

    Subject: Marion has been up to something fishy

    I would like to guess the weight of the carp. Using my limited knowledge of the fishing trade I will guess that the fish weighs 26.7lbs.

    Thanks for what I think has been a great competition.

     Anthony Draper

    Super Duper Cleansing Trooper"


    Notice my 'hilarious' sign off, again I point out I get bored at work. This though wasn't enough for me and after a long discussion about fish with a colleague of mine we decided that we should include more fish puns in his email. The subject line read "I CARP believe Marion caught such a big fish" again how we laughed but still this wasn't enough for me and so eventually I decided to send the HR department another email to thank them for the great competition:


    "To: 'Pam.Chapman@serco.com'

    Subject: Fish Competition

    The sole porpoise of this email is to thank you for the opportunaty to win the twenty five squid voucher. I have had a whale of a time and I am now breaming with confidence

    Bassically that is it, although I am a bit Pirahnoid that you might think my time has been eel spent taking part in this competition.

    Best Fishes

    Anthony Draper

    Super Duper Cleansing Trooper"


    I count no less than 10 fishy puns within that email and tomorrow I will see if the HR department within serco enjoy bad humour as much as my colleague and I. If not then well.. who knows.




    It turns out HR do have a sense of humour, who would have thought. They are now my favourite people in the company



    To: Draper Anthony

    Cc: Marion Eynon

    Subject: RE: Fish Competition

    We must congratulate you on what a dab hand you are at writing such a brill amount of flounder regarding fish.  We just haddock to reply.

    You caused a great deal of snorkelling this morning which was like a ray of sunshine but not very tunaful.

    Once we winkle out a few of the sprats we will weever our way through the shoals of entries to find the supreme snapper.

    Plaice accept our apologies for not roaching your standards but your barbel was well received!

    Pam-eel-a  and  Marlin-ion

    from the Hook office