Diddly Squat – A Year on the Farm by Jeremy Clarkson

Diddly Squat – Jeremy Clarkson

(Four and a half out of five stars)

If you’ve had a look at the other reviews on this blog, you’ll by now know that I am a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson’s writings. Having recently just finished ‘Can You Make this Thing Go Faster?’ I decided to go straight to this, his latest book, written about the first year of actually ‘working’ his farm. I did so because at two hundred and seven pages, and with larger writing, only around two hundred and fifty words to page, it was likely to be a quick read.

It was. Even quicker than I anticipated because the gap between chapters often amounts to between three and five pages, albeit there are minimalist sketches on the otherwise blank pages. (This accounts for the deduction of half a star in my rating.)

(This is being petty, I know. But it didn’t happen in any other of his books that were awarded five stars, so had to be reflected some way.)

That aside, ‘Diddly Squat‘ is vintage Clarkson, though I feel he has somewhat mellowed in his time away from high performance cars and racing across continents in old banged-up jallopies.

The wit is still acerbic but perhaps tempered by an appreciation for how much graft farmers put into twenty-four hours, together with his appreciation for the countryside in which he lives and works.

Jeremy is often much maligned by those who don’t quite ‘get’ him, but hopefully those who do so will, upon reading this book, have their eyes opened by what he is doing to help re-establish the equilibrium in the environment.

So yeah, in a nutshell, ‘Diddly Squat‘ is funny, sarcastic, wicked, self-deprecating while also highlighting the serious issues faced by the UK farming community in this day and age.

Once again – another great read.

FREE BOOK … IN EXCHANGE FOR HONEST REVIEW!

Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee – the humorous & compassionate book about the life of a dog walker.

I have two copies of the Victor Publishing produced edition of ‘Damp Dogs & Rabbit Wee’ available, post paid and free to any UK address, in exchange for an honest review on Amazon / book sites & blogs.

These particular copies are from the first ‘proof’ batch of six that have two spelling errors on the back cover. Just think, with good reviews, and resultant healthy sales, these ‘giveaway books’ will become Collectors’ Editions and worth ££££thousands! Perhaps.

If you’d like one of these two copies to review, then please e-mail me at:

ceeteejackson@gmail.com

The two lucky winners will be drawn and notified on Friday 11th February.

Please be assured your address will be used solely for the purpose of posting the book and not retained thereafter. You’re e-mail address will not be used for any spamming / unsolicited messages.

‘Lifted Over the Turnstiles’ by Steve Finan

‘Lifted Over the Turnstiles – Scotland’s Football Grounds in the Black & White Era.’

(***** Five out of five stars.)

For football fans of a certain age, this book is a ‘must.’ Indeed for football fans of ALL ages, this book is a ‘must.’

The book’s subtitle, ‘Scotland’s Football Grounds in the Black & White Era,’ perfectly sums up what to expect in the two hundred and fifty-seven pages. These photos were taken when football grounds had character and individuality. Sure, they were pretty run down and verging on dilapidated when I first attended matches in the late Sixties. But they were happy and exciting times for me, and judging by the crowds drawn to matches not involving either Rangers or Celtic, a great many others felt the same way.

Many of the photos contained in this book actually pre-date my first visits, but I can still identify where I stood / sat in many of the images.

Yeah – time moves on, and health and safety of spectators is paramount, but I do miss these old football grounds.

This is a book I will pick up time and time again and drift back to a more colourful, if only black and white, time for Scottish football.

‘Jack’s Game’ by Andrew Chapman

(*****Five out of Five Stars)

I’d seen this mentioned on social media and though Horror books are not my normal reading material, I thought i’d give it a go.

Firstly, if ‘gaming’ floats your boat, then you’re off to a great start with ‘Jack’s Game,’ as the story revolves around the development of a Nineties computer game. Don’t worry though, there’s not so much geek talk as to put the philistine reader (like me) off. But I can imagine some who are into this scene will be purring and sighing at the nostalgia.

This is a read that’s ‘easy on the eye.’ Good use is made of conversation to paint the picture and there are some genuinely spine chilling moments. I also liked the way the author brought the tale to a conclusion … I will say no more.

For some reason, it took me a while to get it into my head this story was not set in USA, but UK. I guess that’s the power of movies, an how they influence your subconscious..

But yeah – and enjoyable read and well portrayed, I’d say.

‘Back Next Year!: The Story of Following Stockport County and the 20/21 season’ by Stewart Taylor

(***** Five out of Five Stars)

The book opens with the author attending Edgeley Park for the first time on returning to live in the country, and looking for something different to his Grandfather instilled Man United allegiance. Coincidentally, it was only a few months after this I attended my first County match, having moved down to the area from Scotland.

I can completely identify with the way the Club grabs the fan! I didn’t get to as many games as I’d have liked – Friday nights in those Yuppie years were for staff socialising in the Manchester bars – but I fell in love with the club, standing mainly Pop Side in crowds of @ 1500

I don’t get to see the team live much now I’ve moved back North, but retained my support, and the one ‘good’ thing about Lockdown in 2020 was the fact that all the County matches were streamed.

I didn’t quite make the same number as Stewart did – I missed two due to my own sporting commitments – but it was great to read about and identify with all those matches again.

Very enjoyable read.

‘The Gospel According to Blindboy’ by Blindboy Boatclub.

(***** Five out of Five Stars)

Just such a surreal book! Hysterically funny in bits, but also enlightening and sad in places when talking of mental illness.
Overall though, it’s the completely darkly bonkers imagination of Blindboy that sets this book apart.

It’s hard to say why I found this book so interesting without giving the game away with spoilers. Suffice to say, if you have a bit of a warped sense of humour and aren’t easily offended – then go get this book … or indeed check out his podcasts.

‘Get Those Sheep Off the Pitch!: A Life in Non-league Football’ by Phil Staley

(***Three out of Five Stars)

As a non-league fan and fan of grassroots football, I was really looking forward to this one. It’s interesting and easy read and on a football front, it gave a good feel for what it must be like working in a sporting environment a million miles away from the Premier league.

I don’t think fans of the ‘big’ clubs can ever appreciate the time and effort that goes into running a club like those mentioned in this book – and for miniscule, if any, financial reward. There are many hilarious moments / situations in which the author finds himself, but regrettably the attempt at humour didn’t always come across in a good light, hence the three stars.
However, I’d still recommend this one for any fan of Non-League football.

‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder’ by Kent Nerburn

(*****Five out of Five Stars)

I’m always wary of books that have been raved about, but this didn’t disappoint. I’m also wary of reviewing this book in a way that Dan would disapprove, neither wishing to patronise nor treat the circumstances with unnecessary sympathy. This book is about neither. It’s about ‘understanding.’

Which maybe makes ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog’ sound like a heavy read. It’s anything but.

The writing is colourful, and the conversations between Dan and Nerburn are thought provoking.
And though this is about American Indians, the book could also relate to the manner in which other races are perceived, even to this day, by ‘the white man.’

‘Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues’ by Donn Rogosin

(*** Three out of Five Stars)

Much as I love baseball (I both played and administered the sport) the fascination for stats can become a little overwhelming. For me, at least.

And this was reflected in the writing style of ‘Invisible Men.’ Numerical stats weren’t the issue, but the sheer amount of names dropped in made it hard to follow for someone trying to learn about the history of the sport.

Still interesting enough, and I’m not sure how it could have been presented differently, but it just didn’t read very well in my opinion.

‘The Hard Way: Adapt, Survive and Win’ by Mark ‘Billy Billingham

(*****Five out of Five Stars)
This was the fourth of the former ‘SAS – Who Dares Wins’ DS autobiographies I have read, and as with those by Jason Fox, Ollie Ollerton and Ant Middleton, this one didn’t disappoint.

I have the utmost respect for these guys and their colleagues and find it fascinating to see what type of person actually wants to put them through the situations they find themselves in. Their backstory is always interesting.

I’m way too old now, and certainly not brave or daft enough to have ever wanted to join up, but I always enjoy the physical challenge of training – just for sport in my case. So to read what these guys do is mind blowing. I would have loved to have been able to give that aspect of being an SAS operative a try.

It’s a little frustrating, but obviously understandable that Billy couldn’t include details of any specific battle situations in which he found himself. But there are some general references, so the reader is left in no doubt as to the stress our soldiers had to deal with.

An excellent and ‘easy’ read