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More Fool Me

mfm_book

After enjoying the first two instalments of Mr Fry’s biographies, and the dashed naughty cliff hanger he left at the end of the second one, I was eagerly waiting with anticipation and some degree of expectation the next thrilling missive.  When it first came out I rushed to Amazon and then headed away again, some stupidly picked price was asked, I’ll leave it on my wish list until it is well into single pounds thank you very much.

Thus Kindle told me it was what I deemed affordable and I downloaded it, fully aware of some of the non-favourable reviews I had read.  Many complained that the first 100 pages were a repeated what had been told in the first two, well that is the thing with a continuing series, if your first read is book three then you need telling the snapshot of books 1 and 2, this also helps if it has been some considerable time between reading the volumes, but if you have read them back to back or have an exceedingly good memory, the yes, the stories of expulsion, imprisonment and the anecdote of PoW and Princess Di popping round for tea, are repetitive.  And Stephen addresses this rather amusingly himself as he writes, telling the reader to move it to the —> for the new stuff.

So to the ‘new’ stuff.  This can be split into three areas.  The lecture on the history of, access to and effects of cocaine.  This was more tedious than the re-review of past books.  Okay so I did learn the origins of the word coca-cola [bet you didn’t know that the leaves of the coca plant contain cocaine, an original ingredient of said drink].  But in truth there was nothing in this section that gave insight into why this drug became a popular habit.

This was followed by an ‘extract’ from Stephen’s diary, it covered a considerable chunk of the book and seemed to be an endless stream of going to voice over recordings, writing scripts/sketches/books, bouts of filming or book signings, with smatterings of premiers and first nights attendances, before cabbing with a group of ‘names’ to some swanky eatery or heading to the Groucho Club to score some charlie, play snooker or perudo [dice game] and generally drink, drink and drink before falling into beddybies at something o clock of the wee hours.

The final section, not more than a reasonable chapter in length, seemed to be more of a musing of how he feels about himself, self loathing and undeserving, how life makes a fool of him.

The read was disappointing, but will not put me off reading the next one [if/when there is one] because it occurred to me as I was waiting for morpheus to take over, that we all have periods in our lives where we just ‘are’.  Previous to this Stephen was telling of his childhood and how his life lessons were learnt, his adolescence and forays into adulthood, his educational/talented achievements that produced a target.  This book was more about having reached the target, the maintenance and the absolute change in life style.  The diary entries were/are how it was, when your skills are in demand and your social circle are at the same level.  For many people this is the period of their lives where partners and found and ceremonies cemented before the patter of tiny feet and responsibilities change, Stephen  experienced this vicariously because it was his brother and sister and friends who were having those changes.

In all the book was not bad, it was not as expected, but it seemed to have fallen short of its potential. Of course there is also the possibility that the subject means I expected more than there was to give.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2015 in Books, Review

 

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Hurry up and panic

time-poor

Things are starting to gear up a notch and the calendar turned into its final home stretch.  The cards are done, some with short letters and photos.  I have not started the wrapping yet, mainly because I do not now where to start! I need to crack at it tomorrow because on Monday it is final city shop, so those last needs have to be gotten.  

We try and get done early because getting around with the wheelchair when the world is out makes life hard.  As a joke a friend persuaded me to buy a dogs squeaks cracker toy, as a sort of “mind me, shift your butt, thats me you’re about to fall over” alarm thang.  If you hear of riots and swat teams closing a city centre, it is likely me and my squeak causing civil disturbance.

Sad news, a family friend died last Sunday, I had known him all my life.  Bob had a calm patient aura, he was so amusing with his anecdotes and could have you in fits.  When it came to describing all things engineering his vocal sound effect were mastery itself.  I remember a story of when he and my father were off in France on a Veteran Car Club jolly, they were staying at a rather posh hotel and as the dessert plates were removed the waiter placed a thimble sized coffee cup before each person.  Bob lifted and looked at the cup, and then called the waiter over, he asked to see a breakfast cup, the waiter duly went of, slightly perplexed, and returned with something akin to a cup more like a small bowl.  Bob turned the thimble cup upside down on its saucer and placed that in the centre of the table, taking the bowl cup he placed that in front of him and said “You can serve the coffee now” with such a gentlemanly smile that the waiter did indeed fill the breakfast cup up with strong espresso coffee.  I wish I had had more opportunities and ability to visit more often.  He taught me fractions and I remember the sensation of the penny dropping as it all made sense.

I got side tracked last weekend by a new crochet project, those of you on facebook will have seen the evidence.  I am now on the round rows, 180 stitches around, does fair strain my elbow and shoulder, so I must be strict with myself and just do one row otherwise the arm is not so effective with the important stuff like, getting stood up.

To my pals and cohorts in Our-Place, I am working on a poem and I have some amusing carols for you.  I’ll likely post the poem sometime next week, BCUK permitting [keep getting ‘post does not exist’ thing every time I post anywhere – tedious].

Books – I have kind of gotten bored with writing reviews, you can only say “enjoyable, well placed, sensible plot, well written, good read’ so many ways before you feel you are repeating yourself.  Anyway, I have read Diary of a Nobody [very amusing], Hedda Gabler [mildly disappointing], Death By Deceit [interesting twist and herrings], The One You Really Want [fun, light, situation comedy style], Skeleton’s In The Closet [a bit slow, a tad silly, but well paced plot].  Still averaging about one a week, although I will soon be starting a book book, one of them eco-friendly, hard copy,non-electronic things [lol].  It takes me longer to read a paperback book as I cannot hold it as comfortably nor for as long as I can with the Kindle.

Right then, off to do my row and watch a spot of Harry Potter.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Secrets Of The NoteBook – Eve Haas

Secrets Notebook

This is a true story of one womans curiosity about the contents of a notebook placed in her hands by her father on her sixteenth birthday, that her mother kept hidden and refused to pass to her, because no one was ever supposed to look deeper into its pages.

When Eve’s mother died the first thing she sought to find from the dressing table was the notebook. Within its pages was the snips and hints of a royal marriage that has been almost removed from every historical record [even wikipedia doesn’t mention it!], across some thirty years Eve and her husband slowly and with bravado and determination sought out more.  But this would not be easy, it was the 1970’s, they were Jews, born in Eastern Germany but by luck and skill had left before all avenues were closed, but not all did.  Eve’s own beloved grandmother “I’m really a duchess you know shhhh” was taken by the SS in Prague sadly dying of age, neglect and exhaustion enroute to Auschwitz, never knowing that the contents of the notebook would have saved her life.  Returning during the height of the cold war and communist paranoia, where at any moment they could be imprisoned without recourse to diplomatic assistance – quickly discovering their every move and word was being followed.

The inscription delicately written on the first page read “The beautiful owner of this book is dearer to me than my life – August your protector”.  August was Prince August of Prussia [1779-1843], she was thought to be Emilie Grottschalk.  It was not until their incredible luck in gaining access to the archive papers housed in the imposing Castle at Mersburg, East Germany that an incredible tale of love, persecution, social disobedience and morganatic marriage that truth is revealed.

It was a lovely read of tenacity and strength, how yet again convention and power dictated the behaviour of many, to the point that for the safety of an innocent child, incomprehensible steps were taken to hide her, that three generations later, so well hidden ancestors would be murdered.

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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Tess of the d’Urbervilles – T.Hardy

Tess

This is one of those books [along with Lorna Doone, Jamaca Inn, Mill On the Floss, etc] that a reader feels they should read, I can recall them being on suggested reading lists at school when we had book reports to do as term homework.  This digitised form from the original was soon winged to my Kindle for my delights.  How glad I am to have read it now and not when I was a teen, the language alone would have bewildered me.

Tess Durbeyfield is the eldest daughter of an impoverished man who in passing discovers he is the descendant from the extinct nobled family of d’Urberville’s and is referred to as Sir John, but the drunken poverty and hand to mouth existence in rural wessex barely keeps his roof leak free.  Tess is sent on a path to find an ancestor in a hope that some good fortune may come their way, whether by association or marriage.  The story really highlights the utter hypocracy of the self righteous rigidity of the social morality at that time.  A man can chase, woe, seduce or take any woman he wishes and is seen as a strong man, a manly protective fellow, but if a woman is chased, seduced and/or taken before that band of gold is on her finger she is branded for life as wicked, immoral and a blght upon the character of any man who subsequently takes to her; and that it was her fault for causing the men to do so to her.

Wronged by a man who she innocently trusted, and thrown into heart wrenching tragedy, she seeks solace, an escape somewhere where she is not known, in hard work.  Here she happens upon a better man who quickly adores her and in gentlemanly fashion courts her, she finding herself in the midst of true love relents to marry him, fretful and fearful what her past secrets would do to this pure delicate emotion.  Her salvation is hard lived, and a mix of misunderstandings, pride, undeservedness part them and the hardest of labours eek out a dire existence for Tess.  Things get worse when the fearful figure from her past reappears and twists her mind, wears down her resolve and convinces her of things he has no knowledge of.  The climax is ultimate and leaves the reader in reflection of what might have been, if only …..

The pace of the book was even until the last three or four chapters which seemed hasty, almost as if Hardy was not sure how the book would end but when he decided hurried to get there, maybe there was a publishers deadline.  Several times I felt myself wanting to scream at the focused character “Just say …..”, but as with other works, pride, fear, conventionality gag the person from speaking the truth and makes for gripping reading.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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Literally Literary London

LLL

A friend posted this on Facebook, 250 novels were used in its construction and more info can be found at this link Literary London.

Things like this blow my mind, the detailing, the time and effort taken in the research, let alone the construction, the patience of the artist.

Ptretty Damn fine.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The White Princess

White Princess
This book covers the time from Richard III’s slaughter on the Battle field of Bosworth and Henry VII’s difficult grasp on the thrones, many believed him a usurper and believed that one of the princes of York had escaped death in the Tower of London [which historians now believe to be true] and was set to return and claim his throne.
Elizabeth, eldest daughter of The White Queen was betrothed purely as a means to strengthen Henry’s claim, to mix her York blood with his [his Mother The Red Queen, although never a Queen, was a Lancastrian] in a hopes that the Lord and people of the land would accept him.  But she is trapped, untrusted, disbelieved at every turn.  She cannot ‘know’ anything of her own family, not even her Mother can openly talk with her, for fear Henry will announce her a traitor and behead her.  she is surrounded by spies for Henry, for his Mother, incase word is sent to her of plot, rising, invasion, or ‘the boy’.
Although quite a slower read than the others of the series, merely because Elizabeth cannot be ‘involved’ with any of the politics of the time, the book did detail well the fear of the Tudors at a Yorkist overthrowing them [as he had done to R III] and when the boy is found many years later and captured, Henry’s writhing anger that no matter what he attempts to conjure, persuade and decree about this charming handsome golden haired cultivated boy the world still sees him as a York Prince, even if declaring so risks their head, lands and fortune.
The ‘curse’ that Phillipa has woven into both The White Queen and The White Princess is quite marvellous and when you put the historical facts in place, curse of karma, makes you wonder.
Many of us have been enamoured by the Tudor period, the gregariousness of Henry VIII, the jostling for positions and the need for a son; the differences and divisions between his daughters and the puppeting of Lady Jane Grey.  From Henry VII’s claim to the crown until Elizabeth I’s barren death, this period must be one of the bloodiest, the most paranoid, perilous times of in-fighting there has even been in England’s history, aside from the battle between catholicism and protestantism that continued for another century.
 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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Clouded Rainbow – Jonathan Sturak

cloudedrainbow

The book starts out describing the succesful life of Roger and the wife he is besotted with Lois, a young couple with high earning and stressed jobs, living in the upmarket suburb and driving the expensive status SUV.  But their idyllic world crumbles when on a dark and stormy night they are involved in a horrific car crash as they are crossing the bridge.  The impact send Lois into the swollen river, but Robert is still belted in his mangled vehicle.

Essentially the tale is about the 24/36 hours after Roger wakes up in hospital, concussed with temporary amnesia about what has happened and his strive, almost obsessed need to find his wife, but he does not do the one thing you think you would do in that situation – ask someone!  Lois is in a different hospital, south of the city, in a coma, only the Detective assigned to find out who this Jane Doe is knows the connections.  Miscommunication and a hasty conclusions results in Roger being hunted by the police.

I did not like the ending, it was too ‘hollywoodised’ and I could think of several others that might have been just as dramatic, emotional and effective.  I felt as I read there were things about Roger the reader needed to know, such as what caused his nauseated phobia of hospitals; and there were things I could not decide whether they were just natural yearning or a more sinister controlling arrogance.  Sometimes I was not sure whether Roger’s need to find Lois was to cover up some deep dark secret, or just panic at being separated and not knowing where she was, or how she was.

I flip between a ** rating and a **** rating.  Still cannot decide.

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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The Garden – Gillian Linscott

thegarden

This was a read recommended to me by a fellow blogger – and an excellent read it was too. The author gently guided you through the story of the making of the garden for the family with secrets and tragedies, whilst some you got an early inkling of, others kept you guessing until the end.

Beginning in the early decade of the 1900’s, Isabelle had inherited her families welsh coal mines, her husband was a philandering artist, resentful of his wife’s wealth and control; annoyed at the recent public scandal she brings her family to the home from the past.  Her project now is to have a beautiful garden and she knows just who to help her, the dashing besotted Phillip Cordell.  With the gardner/groundskeeper and his family the only other people for what feels like miles the two families become close.  As the garden takes its shape the youngest child becomes racked with night terrors and fear, her father no where to be found presumed to have returned to London. War brings changes to the home, especially as the doting mother does what she can to prevent her only son being called up by positioning him with the coal mining company.  After the war, with attitudes changing, the miners strikes, demonstrations, fights and protests come right to the door of Isabelle destroying more than her beloved garden.

In 2001 Colin and Kim are camping illegally in a corner of the grounds, excavating the area, trying to piece together what was where in the garden, their only reference is an article from an old gardening magazine [think The Lady or Country life].  Colin discovers bones, knuckle bones and then larger tibia, they surely must be human and what is their story.  One night they see a light coming from the terrace, they are not the only trespassers, what does this other person want here?

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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Sisters Of Mercy – A Puckett

Sisters of Mercy

Andrew Puckett weaved and tangled a worrying web in this thriller.  Set in a modern day hospital just outside Birmingham, the ITU attached to a Cardiac Unit is experiencing some unexpected but not unexplainable deaths.  There is nothing suspicious, after all patients are recovering from major surgery or major cardiac events and these things can happen.  Sister Josephine is not suspicious but feels something more than coincidence and a blip in statistics is the reason for some deaths.

She sets about gathering her information but her immediate superior does not see her concerns over these natural, sudden, regrettable but understandable demises.  The Police do not see the evidence of foul play.  But when a Home Office investigator knocks on her door, like Josephine, he feels something does not add up.

The two peruse their suspicions and take us mere mortals down the perilous route of plausibility, believability and wonder.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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My Life Above The Carousel

Carousel

When Papa Jones sent the funds for his family to join him from Rhode Island all the way to Santa Monica, California, the three girls and one boy were the only ones who didn’t know just where their Father had found them to live.

This is a lovely sweet reminiscence [minus sentiment] of ‘Laney’ and her family when their artistic father got the job of repainting the famous carousel on the Santa Monica Pier in the early part of 1946 and on the floor above this unique attraction were apartments, one of which the English borne Jones Clan would call home for over eight years.  Laney is mortified, who wants to admit they live above such a place!  The beach life was wonderful, at the beach everyone was equal, surfing was the new thing, there was swimming, paddle boarding, fishing, clam digging. The Muscle Beach with Moe Forrest [before it relocated to Venice Beach] with gymnastics.  Life outside was full of fun, laughter and adventure, life at school was bearable but having the admit where she lived was a perpetual nightmare.

This is a lovely piece of social history walking a young girl into her awkward teen years, the changing times and changes in needs following the end of War.  The majority of things she did would cause a modern day aperplexi not to mention numerous degrees of litigation.  The stars and star-stand-ins that crossed her path are names sadly being forgotten.  The innocence of childhood and youth.  All excellently woven into a delightful two day read by Elaine Stephenson.

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2014 in Books, Review

 

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