I am reading rather a good one at present, called "Speak for Britain!", published earlier this year, by Martin Pugh. Very readable, which too many historians are not. He makes the amusing point that the Labour Party tends to reinvent its senior figures as something they have never been. Clem Attlee might have been a bit dull but he gave us the welfare state, they clamour. Actually Clem was arse as a prime minister and gave away the next election, after the triumph of 1945. Barbara Castle was a great feminist, the sisters cry. Actually she wasn't, and Germaine Greer for one loathed her for it. Fiona Mactaggart MP, who is not daft, even spoke about Barbara's feminism at the 2008 party conference when Barbara had spent most of her life avoiding it. Neil Kinnock started the reform of the party which made Labour electable again, they enthuse. No he didn't (though he did other good things) - the 1987 manifesto was actually more extreme than the 1983 one, but let's not let the facts get in the way of a good soundbite, eh Kaufman?
I have just been on holiday and I took quite a few books with me, including the above, on my Sony book reader, which I like using very much, although the process of loading books on to it is not exactly user friendly. I got it at the beginning of last year, and will carry on using it until I am obliged to have an iPad - which we must all have, sooner or later. Last year I got myself a Mac laptop (MacBook Pro) and after some anguish at the accommodations required of a PC user of many years, I grew to like it and to enjoy the access it gives without having to become proficient in the technology, as well as fab things like GarageBand and iphotos. While I was blind in one eye back last month, before I had the cataract operation and threw my glasses away, I reached for a cup of coffee while I was using the laptop, missed the cup and poured the hot coffee into the keyboard. The whole thing promptly died and I was told by those nice people at fnac (excellent shop, there is nothing like it in the UK) that it would cost more than a thousand euros to repair, ie it would be cheaper to get a new one, also that an accident was not covered by the guarantee (I had had the thing for less than six months at the time) and my delightful home insurance people tell me that the laptop is not covered because I did it myself, even though by accident. Chiz. So now what? We have a clunky ancient PC at home that I cannot bear, and also I cannot get my ipod to talk to it although I have downloaded itunes on to it, so how do I even get more music? I really really want an ipad for technoporn reasons, and I would really really like to have my reading and books and music and so on all in one place and portable for travelling. But as I have got to pay for it myself I can't afford an iPad and a laptop. Perhaps techno-expert readers can advise. Also on the replacement for the home PC, which is becoming urgent. Significant other does not mind reading a book while he waits for his emails to load, but I do. Do we get a new PC? Do we get a laptop PC for home, so we can use it with the TV as well? Or what?