Friday 18 November 2011

Tunnel Vision

You know you are living an EXTRAORDINARILY exciting existence when you are becoming gripped by questions about books about drainage pipes. I was looking at this book, Below Manchester on Amazon. Look at the bit by the publisher.

As author and publisher of ‘Below Manchester’ I take exception to the inaccurate remarks of the reviewer ‘pdc666’. The book does not repeat the information from my previous book – ‘Underground Manchester’ but as the title suggests and is made clear in the introduction that I return to sites previously covered to bring FRESH/DIFFERENT information to go deeper into the subject. If the reviewer had read the book more carefully he or she would have known that this is fresh information. ‘Below Manchester’ also deals with many other new underground sites generally not drains, cellars or sewers. The reviewer ommits to mention that every page listing the air raid shelters also include many photos and newscuttings of wartime life in the shelters. Such badly informed comments of the reviewer would unfairly and adversley influence possible sales and I am requesting this review is removed.

My first thoughts were – that doesn’t make your book sound very good mate. Or at least it definitely makes your other book, Underground Manchester, sound like a waste of time. It also seems to be a bit petty to have the book where you might be expecting something general about the book/publisher/author turn in to a very specific attack on one person’s review of his book. Of course this made me want to read the review.
Here’s the sequel to the bestselling local history book from a couple of years ago. At the price, you expect something new and something special. Don’t waste your money.
There are a few good bits such as the photos of the Guardian bunker, but they’re the exception. Many pages are simply a list of air raid shelters in BIG LETTERS to fill space. Many pages are just about ordinary cellars. Many pages are just general stuff about ordinary drains and sewers. Many pages repeat what’s in the first book.

Now I don’t want to comment on the book – I haven’t read it. But this is hardly a scathing attack on the work. It’s negative, for sure. But there are three positive reviews to counteract it. I suppose the author is just being overprotective of his work. It did make me think though..how is the reviewer, pdc666, getting it so wrong (if we are to believe author/publisher Keith Warrender)? It seems an odd thing to go around making up lies about – the content of local history books. And he certainly seems to have read the first book to be able to compare the two..someone who has read TWO books on a very similar – and let’s face it – not very interesting subject matter doesn’t seem like someone who isn’t interested in the field to enough of a level to have a valid view.

 Not for Keith Warrender though, he doesn’t think pdc666 has read the book carefully enough. I really don’t know who to believe. Maybe Keith Warrender is a fly-by-night who has just re-badged his old book and sat back laughing at the mugs shelling out for the same book again. Is it really so hard to believe someone might do that? Let me be clear, I am not saying Keith Warrender is the leader of some kind of cartel of local history book writers who just release books with heavily re-used subject matter the profits of which fund an international drug and prostitution ring. I am not saying that – I am just saying it is possible.

But then what of pdc666? Why should we believe him/her? Perhaps there is some form of grudge being worked on here. Perhaps pdc666 was working on their own book about pipes underneath Manchester and was beaten to the punch by Warrender’s opus and this is all some bloody revenge being played out on the hallowed turf of Amazon’s customer reviews section. I am not saying that pdc666 sits alone in a darkened room throwing darts at a photocopy of of the front of Underground Manchester – the copy he/she bought having disintegrated by being punctuated with thousands of sharpened tungsten missiles. I am not saying that is true at all, just that it is a possibility you have to consider. Can we really trust a reviewer using 666 as part of their reviewing handle, clearly referencing The Prince of Darkness: Satan?

I’m not sure we can. But think again, look at pdc666’s reviews, particularly the one for the Victorinox 1377300 Army Knife Handyman Red. He/she (let’s face it – this is a man) can’t help himself but provide some helpful extra information for other people, “Hint: if you look next to the base of the corkscrew you’ll see a tiny hole. There’s no mention of it in the instructions but it’s for a pin, not supplied.” That kind of unnecessary kindness nearly brings me to tears and makes me question all the Swiss Army style knives being reviewed without such extra information in the world. This really did set a new benchmark for multi-purpose knife reviews – it’s really good.

I suppose it only really matters if you already own Underground Manchester and are thinking of buying Below Manchester. I don’t fall in to this category so this has not been of any constructive use to me. And if you did fall in to this category – of which I am sure there are many – nothing was really cleared up seemingly endless suffering and fallout from what many have dubbed ‘Keith Warrender and pdc666 confrontation on Amazon’. Who knows how long it can continue..how many innocent bystanders will die. Surely the only way to sort it is for the two to exchange good honest levellers like Bez did with that bloke his wife left him for.

Training Day – The Aftermath

Oh yeah – that went ok. Wasn’t too annoying and that woman I was slighlty rude about was not annoying in any way. Typical me being a prick.  CLASSIC PHIL.
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