George reviews- It’s so easy…and other lies.

The good, the bad and the ugly side of rock and roll.


This is the autobiographical account of the life and times of Michael ‘Duff’ McKagan, bass guitarist with American rock band Guns ‘n’ Roses.

I first heard about the band 30 years ago visiting my mother in the West Midlands one summer. They were just a rumble then. Not the behemoth they would become.’_Roses?wprov=sfti1

Being a hotbed for rock music, G’n’R had been found early by the Midlands and I picked up in this band and bootlegs of their music. I would get the album, Appetite for Destruction for another few months.

At that time I wanted to be in a band. A rock band.

My father was VERY musically minded and can play multiple instruments. Me? Too lazy to stick at learning the guitar.

I kept trying but couldn’t get it to stick – 6 strings was clearly too many.

Now, a bass guitar, four strings, seemed easier but I could never get my hands on a bass but, for some reason, the bass guitarist in a band was always the one I wanted to be.

In G’n’R that man was Duff McKagan.

When I saw the autobiography, it was something I wanted to read. I know the band and its members had had their problems and it had all ended pretty badly but I was interested to find out how the band I’d idolised had come about and then destroyed itself.

The story starts out with the authors current day reflections on his own fatherhood and how different his own was compared to his family growing up.

It’s clear that he comes from a close, large family and this, along with friendship, is a thick vein running through the story.

It goes on to early age drug use and criminality, the move to L.A. and early band work before the band comes together.

This is interesting with all the personalities floating about and their influence on matters but the resounding feeling is of 5 young men, tight as a group and their desire to succeed.

The band eventually go on to stellar success and it’s then the cracks develop.

Learning about the personality changes, the drinking, the drugs and all other rock related problems – you wonder how he’s survived. At times it can seem a bit cliched but, as the author suggests, times and the music industry have changed.

Although the egos are still there, the industry seems fine tuned to milk the most out of the customers. A lot more controlled in order to get the most out of an artist.

There is also a major part about recovery and the unorthodox approach to cure taken by McKagan and, ultimately, finding exactly what he was looking for.

It has an happy ending which, at times, you don’t expect. It’s an interesting story and definitely worth a read if your a fan.

George reviews- The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

A nice, short scare.

Not the movie but the book by Washington Irving.

Published in 1820, this a short story about the Supernatural and an old Dutch American community.

If you’ve ever watch the film, you’d think this was the trailer for it as it beautifully describes the town, the region, the people and their idiosyncrasies.

The short story centres around the superstitious community and more so around Ichabod Crane, the nomadic teacher.

Greedy for the affections of the heiress to a local landowner, Crane come up against some love rivals and the Headless Hessian Horseman himself before becoming part of the folklore of Sleep Hollow itself.

This story is expanded upon by the movies but the Tim Burton movie seems to capture the stylings of the story the most.

A nice, short story to spook the kids with before bed.

George reviews Flash for Freedom

Flashman Book 3. Dirty work.

Flashman books can upset a lot of people.

The language. The subject matter. The character himself.!?wprov=sfti1

George McDonald Fraser does another thoroughly researched turn through some of history’s memorable moments and the 3rd Flashman is quite a divisive one.

Bottom line, this book is about slavery. It’s written in the style of a turn of the century (last century – not this) empire subject. And British at that.

Flash himself gets into some bother, as ever, and has to disappear for a bit and gets semi-pressed onto a ship bound for Africa to collect slaves bound for the Americas.

As usual, the well laid plans go awry and Flash is fighting/running/hiding for his life ending up as a slave plantation worker.

Unusually for Flash, it keeps getting worse. You get used to his ‘skin of his teeth’ escapades but this ones a little different when he ends up being seized as an actual slave.

Poetic justice you think but does put an interesting spin on the story, going from slaver to slave and, eventually coming out the other end – after being saved by Abraham Lincoln.

The account given by Flash of the slave trade and what happened in and around it is all based on fact and makes grim reading.

Don’t take this book the wrong way. It is not glorifying the business but, if it’s not too wrong, bring a lighthearted view to things at times.

George the Collie reviews National Trust Shugborough Hall

Some work to do but still a great visit.

Set in mid-Staffordshire, Shugborough Hall is the ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield

The hall and grounds have recently been taken over by the National Trust as, as you might expect, things are not fully up to speed.

Being a dog, I’m not allowed in the house so just the grounds for me but I have to say they are some of the better one I have been around.

There are (partially) defined paths to follow around and areas where dogs can run free, thankfully. They were great.

There are some beautiful sights as you amble around but my folks got lost quite quickly due to poor path marking. We all muddled through okay though and made it back to the modern world.

There are a large number of ‘follys’ (follies?) around the grounds but there used to be a lot more, 11 in fact.

The gatehouse leads you along the road to the deer/cattle grazing areas which are vast.

There is an art ‘thing’ going on around the grounds as well where you can look into these viewers, below, and watch an art house piece relating to the history of the park and the two brother that brought ‘paradise’ to the grounds in the shape these follies. Inspiration taken from their travels the area was transformed.

Unfortunately, many of these were destroyed or neglected over time leaving only a few remaining which can be found about.

The arch of Hadrian, above, is the most visible one remaining but there are still the Doric Temple, The Tower of the Winds, The Shepherd’s Monument and more to see.

We did make use of the fabulous tea room though. That clotted cream was lovely.

A nice park and well worth a visit. Not seen the house yet but we’ll go back. The grounds still have some way to go but still a nice spot.

Easily Distracted- Steve Coogan


Steve Coogan is a bit Marmite. You either like him or you don’t I think.

I find him funny and interesting, my wife is not a fan.

I first became aware of him on The Day Today comedy news show.

I next saw him as Paul/Pauline Calf and then as Alan Partridge in his various shows.

Along with a couple of films, I’d seen a fair bit of his work.

It wasn’t until I read this that I actually get to understand him more. Autobiographies are only ever as much as the author wants to show us but Coogan gives up a lot.

You learn about his family, his schooling, college and him striving to produce a polished, funny, comedy product.

The story moves through significant segments in Coogan’s life – the phone hacking, bad movies, Oscar winning movies and, ultimately the Perrier prize.

You get a real feel for the man and it feels honest.

A really good, interesting autobiography that, handily, is also very funny.

George the Collie eats….Pt.6

The cat/dog that got the cream….

So, apparently, depending on Devon style or Cornish style, you apply the clotted cream to jam or vice versa.

Which are you?

George isn’t fussed BUT he does prefer the cream. Clearly.