I increasingly find politics a bore, even in relation to health and economic policy. Timmins’s Never Again? precludes my usual reaction, providing a lucid and engaging narrative. The story guides us through the Act’s conception, rejection, amendment and assent, identifying the key players from academia and Westminster along the way. The book enables you to leave your political inclinations at the door, and at times I found myself sympathising with Lansley! It also provides a nice overview of the ultimate nature of the Act at the end of its tumultuous journey; something I struggled to figure out at the time.
On this collection of unreleased or otherwise-unnoticed songs, Sundials demonstrate that 90s-rock-influenced punk bands needn’t be boring. The band exhibits less of their indie college rock influence and instead brings the pop-punk; the homage to Alkaline Trio extending beyond the cover art. Their last album didn’t do much for me, so I’m surprised how much I appreciate ‘Always Whatever’. You’ll find the tracks worming their way into your head and providing the soundtrack to your day. Predictably the record doesn’t flow as an album, but the tracks will be brightening up playlists for years to come.
Society condemns the poor. But people can rise above their means and be vindicated by society. The premise of Les Misérables will never expire. The social ills of today differ only marginally from those of Hugo’s epoch, and the story’s pertinence will never wane. Hugo’s writing is inspiring and poetic throughout. The descriptions of love – for one’s child, one’s sweetheart, one’s freedom, one’s country – are incredibly moving. Confronted with these 531,000 words, it certainly helps to be a bit of a Francophile with a general interest in history. Nevertheless, I challenge anyone not to be enlightened by this extraordinary book.