A.A. Gill, British Journalist

AA Gill

The Angry Island (2005) AA Gill is Away (2000), Previous Convictions(2006)
Nancy Pearl, Book Lust to Go, recommended him as a Scottish author of merit. I immediately took these books out of the Library!  From the Jacket: “AA Gill was born in Edinburgh but has lived as a refugee in London for most of his life. His cover is so deep now that few would be able to tell he wasn’t a native. He is a critic and features writer for the Sunday Times (London), contributing editor to GQ, Vanity Fair and Australian Gourmet Traveler. He lives in London and spends as much time abroad for obvious reasons.”

Words that immediately come to mind upon reading: astute, entertaining, invective, splenetic, rapier wit, a  “literary terror”, well read, well written, informative, interesting.

I have to purchase these books – I want to mark up the copies, write down the wit, re-enjoy the insight, revel in the language, laugh at myself, but also feel intensely the imagery – the English, the pubs, the deer stalking, Stonehenge, golf, queueing, his daughter, his father’s Alzheimer’s, his portrait, his mockery, his abrasiveness. There is a great deal of praise, humour, historical interest as well. Discovered all three on Kindle, but there is a fourth on Amazon that I haven’t read!

He was born in Scotland but moved away at 11 months. He acknowledges that he speaks with a perfect BBC English accent: He is a foreigner in England. He reminds me so much of Clive James, although more biting, sarcastic, cranky but still with perception, history and understanding. I would love to have dinner with him. Anywhere in the world! I am so grateful that the Library had these copies – and SO wish more people knew him, read him, circulate the books!
A few classic phrases:
“The English, left on their own, are some of the most objectionable people you could wish to avoid. They have a unique national habit of bringing out the worst in each other….England and Englishness are not a matter of geography or weather, or fortuitous position in the Atlantic, they are genetic Marmite – a little bit of them goes an awful long way.”

His friends and colleagues “should not be tarred with the responsibility for the opinions here – they are all mine alone and you’re welcome to them”.

I really wanted to copy a line from each page of each book!

Naked vs nude (defined, the haggis stomach)

RGS – geography is a journey, not a destination. (Royal Geographical Society, London)

Brazil – second hand passports! 20% of the world’s supply of water (with 50% of the world’s supply already polluted – he understands the message: Brazil has it, California wants it).

Pakistan – Kipling’s most famous line was written about these people “east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet” but the full stanza is never quoted and qualifies/changes those meanings “Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho’ they come from the ends of the Earth!”

I need to read more, a statement that will surely raise eyebrows amongst my friends 😉


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