Posts from 27th November 2008

Nov 08

Don’t They Know It’s The End Of The World?

FT + The Brown Wedge13 comments • 2,046 views

With Rubicon and Persian Fire, Tom Holland proved himself a master of narrative history with a sizeable weakness for relating the ancient world to the modern. His third history blockbuster, Millennium, dials back the parallels but finds its narrative coherence threatened.

It’s still a very readable and interesting book – a thorough exploration of a relatively obscure period in European history, covering the time from the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 to the culmination of the First Crusade in 1099. Holland doesn’t dwell on either event, looking instead to less well-known – but more crucial – turning points: the victory of Otto over the Hungarians at the Battle of Lech; the rise to power of the Abbey of Cluny; the humbling of Emperor by Pope at the fortress of Canossa, which Holland contends represents the crucial division of Church and State on which Christendom was founded.


Woolworths RIP

FT17 comments • 808 views

I’m sure there’ll be a lot about Woolies on various blogs today: time here simply to note its role in the early 00s pop boom. For some value of “boom”: the singles market in the time just before downloads was a) tiny and b) dominated by Woolworths as the emerging supermarket chains mostly stuck to albums. I remember reading somewhere that 40% of all singles were sold through Woolworths in the early part of the decade, which would have made their central buyers the most important men in pop (defining pop, which nobody really did by then, as ‘what gets into the charts’). Since Woolworths worked to their OWN singles chart – determined on the Monday of release via pre-orders, market expertise, the operation of a ouija board, etc. – rather than the official one, this had a significant impact.

Woolworths downsized its singles displays a few years ago, though I think they still stocked physical singles: their closure is surely the real actual last nail in the coffin of the physical single as anything other than a specialist format (indie 7″s, dance 12″s, etc.).