READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 05 Jan 2018, 05:13

I've just started Norman's take on Eire..... This is going to be interesting!
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by plaques » 05 Jan 2018, 10:02

Finished Vince Cable's 'The Storm.' Written in 2010 after the banking collapse so in one sense we are in a better position to judge on the outcomes than he was. Slightly disappointed that he didn't make any predictions but listed all the problems that we may run into. One comment that stuck in my mind was a statement that the banks would have survived the American housing collapse had it not been for the fact that they had sliced and diced all the bad loans so that nobody knew who owned them and then and called them assets to make bigger leveraged loans and so on ad infinitum. Which makes you think the banks are prepared to let personal credit run as long as they think they can cover piecemeal failures.

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 06 Jan 2018, 05:22

But in the long run crap is crap! They don't do 'long run', just immediate gain.
Norman on Eire is brilliant. I now have a much better overview of the history and he has cleared up many aspects that have puzzled me for years. Very rewarding reading......
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 08 Jan 2018, 05:24

I finished Norman's book on Vanished Kingdoms yesterday. I have been learning all the way thorough but he finished by giving a brilliant explanation of the Irish Question that tidied up my thinking on the subject and then addressed the dissolution of the CCCP. He makes distinctions between different causes of failure. In the case of the CCCP he says it was a vacuum at the centre caused by incompetence, sclerotic systems and the failure of the leadership to realise the consequences of their actions. His last chapter analyses the differences and it became clear to me why he believes that the United Kingdom is in the throes of an inevitable break up. He wrote this before 2011 and it struck me that everything he was saying was becoming reality. I think it's fair to regard our current leadership strategies as being a governmental vacuum, they are fire-fighting all the time. suffering from the consequences of failed and mistaken policies and in addition have to contend with Cameron's Catastrophe. This being the case they are steering a course which logically leads to a shrinkage, if not a dissolution of the United Kingdom. It all makes sense!
I shall start on his latest book on Global History today, only 700 pages.......
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 09 Jan 2018, 03:48

Started Norman's latest, 'Beneath Another Sky'.
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 10 Jan 2018, 06:10

I'm getting the flavour of Norman's new book. It's actually a very good travel guide laced with good history. I'm enjoying it particularly as the genealogical history is far less dense!
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 13 Jan 2018, 06:31

Norman is going well. Yesterday he gave me the full shameful history of the Fall of Singapore in WW2. Today we are heading for Australia......
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Wendyf » 14 Jan 2018, 10:25

I'm reading books again after banishing my Samsung tablet from the bedroom!
Simon Armitage's "Walking Away", about his long distance walk on the South West Coast path, which has been sat half finished on my bedside table since the summer, has been completed. That was enjoyable, but not as much as his earlier "Walking Home" about his trek North to South down the Pennine Way.
Next on the waiting pile was my friend Margaret's biography of her great aunt Joan "Wilkie" Wilkinson from Foulridge, who played cricket for England in the 1940's and early 1950's. It started out as just a record of Joan's achievements for the family to enjoy but turned into a self published book of over 200 pages. Quite a remarkable lady, born in 1909 and, despite a passion for cricket, destined for a life in the mills until she joined the WAAF during ww2 and the world opened up for her.
I've just finished "The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy" by Rachel Joyce, a companion story to "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" which I read a few years back. Both delightful books that I couldn't stop reading once I had started.
I'm not sure what to take off the pile next...

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 15 Jan 2018, 04:23

Try the one on Vernacular Architecture you have on loan from the East Hill Street Library...... :biggrin2:
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Wendyf » 15 Jan 2018, 08:08

You're right Stanley, it's time I returned it to its library! I have dipped into it but no more than that.

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 16 Jan 2018, 05:04

It's a reference book Wendy. Consider getting your own.... It can be very useful, that's why I bought it, he is a good man and knew his stuff.
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Wendyf » 16 Jan 2018, 09:05

Stanley wrote:
16 Jan 2018, 05:04
It's a reference book Wendy. Consider getting your own.... It can be very useful, that's why I bought it, he is a good man and knew his stuff.
I was thinking that would be a good plan. Your copy will be returned when the weather conditions settle!

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 17 Jan 2018, 04:16

No rush Love. I have not lost any sleep.
Surprising fact from Norman on Tasmania. Did you know that Erroll Flynn was born in in Tassie?
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 23 Jan 2018, 06:25

Had an hour with Norman yesterday. We are in Texas now and it's interesting history!
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Wendyf » 23 Jan 2018, 08:23

I've just finished The Quarry, Iain Banks's final novel. It's about a man dying of cancer and his rage at the unfairness of life and the state of the world. (Banks didn't know he had terminal cancer until the book was being published.)
One to avoid if you object to swearing, but still an entertaining and thought provoking read.

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 24 Jan 2018, 04:16

I find I have to avoid books like that Wendy these days. They depress me too much. My thoughts are provoked far too much by the world around me. I know, it's pathetic, but I apply the same criteria to TV programmes as well. I had to turn the chimp programme off last night even though I like Sue Perkins' work. To much in it about the ill-treatment of animals for experimental work on HIV Aids and Hepatitis. Add nature programmes where the animals are killing each other as well....
I'm even having problems reading about the ethnic cleansing that went on in the 19th century to get the Native Americans off Texas territory and grab their land in Norman's book..... Have a look at TRAIL OF TEARS.
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 02 Feb 2018, 05:33

I've finished Norman and have started on a re-read of 'Wide Body' the story of the Boeing 747 by Clive Irving. 'Beneath Another Sky' is well worth reading. Problem is that I have found another of Norman's books I haven't read, 'Trail of Hope' the story of the Polish General Anders. I know little about him and so will have to get it!
Later.... I have found a 'like new' hardback copy of 'Trail of Hope' at a good price on Bookfinder and have ordered it. Should I be still buying books??
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Tripps » 02 Feb 2018, 09:40

Stanley wrote:
02 Feb 2018, 05:33
Should I be still buying books??
Yes indeed_of course you should. :smile:

The news today is of a painting - Hylas and the Nymphs - taken down from the Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street. In its place is an 'installation' of post it notes bearing comments from visitors. 'Not censorship' - they say - in the wake of the President Club affair, and removal of Grid Girls at Formula One events. The fact that they have withdrawn the postcard of the picture (which I just learned was a best seller), as well seems to indicate that it actually might be.

Now to the point - I used to pop in the Gallery now and then, a long time ago, and enjoyed looking at the paintings, though I don't remember that particular one. I liked 'The Hireling Shepherd' by William Holman Hunt. That will be the next to go - he actually has his arm round the girl - surely inappropriate touching, and how do we know that he had full consent. :smile:

With all that in mind back to the topic - I bought a book a few years ago called 'Pre Raphaelite Paintings from the Manchester City Art Gallery' from Abebooks, thus had a big advantage over the casual news reader yesterday. Yes - you keep on buying books - you never know when you'll need them. :smile:

Here he is - the rascal
Hirelingshepherd.jpg
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Born to be mild. . .

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 03 Feb 2018, 04:25

Like you David I am disturbed by this censorship. What do they do about 'The Rape of the Sabine Women'?
While I was in Montreal I came across a poetic reaction to a case of censorship.....

A Psalm of Montreal
By Samuel Butler (1835–1902)


From ‘The Note-Books of Samuel Butler’

THE CITY OF MONTREAL is one of the most rising and, in many respects, most agreeable on the American continent, but its inhabitants are as yet too busy with commerce to care greatly about the masterpieces of old Greek Art. In the Montreal Museum of Natural History I came upon two plaster casts, one of the Antinous and the other of the Discobolus—not the good one, but in my poem, of course, I intend the good one—banished from public view to a room where were all manner of skins, plants, snakes, insects, etc., and, in the middle of these, an old man stuffing an owl.
“Ah,” said I, “so you have some antiques here; why don’t you put them where people can see them?”
“Well, sir,” answered the custodian, “you see they are rather vulgar.”
He then talked a great deal and said his brother did all Mr. Spurgeon’s printing.
The dialogue—perhaps true, perhaps imaginary, perhaps a little of the one and a little of the other—between the writer and this old man gave rise to the lines that follow:—

Stowed away in a Montreal lumber room
The Discobolus standeth and turneth his face to the wall;
Dusty, cobweb-covered, maimed and set at naught,
Beauty crieth in an attic and no man regardeth:
O God! O Montreal! 5

Beautiful by night and day, beautiful in summer and winter,
Whole or maimed, always and alike beautiful—
He preacheth gospel of grace to the skin of owls
And to one who seasoneth the skins of Canadian owls:
O God! O Montreal! 10

When I saw him I was wroth and I said, “O Discobolus!
Beautiful Discobolus, a Prince both among gods and men!
What doest thou here, how camest thou hither, Discobolus,
Preaching gospel in vain to the skins of owls?”
O God! O Montreal! 15

And I turned to the man of skins and said unto him, “O thou man of skins,
Wherefore hast thou done thus to shame the beauty of the Discobolus?”
But the Lord had hardened the heart of the man of skins
And he answered, “My brother-in-law is haberdasher to Mr. Spurgeon.”
O God! O Montreal! 20

“The Discobolus is put here because he is vulgar—
He has neither vest nor pants with which to cover his limbs;
I, Sir, am a person of most respectable connections—
My brother-in-law is haberdasher to Mr. Spurgeon.”
O God! O Montreal! 25

Then I said, “O brother-in-law to Mr. Spurgeon’s haberdasher,
Who seasonest also the skins of Canadian owls,
Thou callest trousers ‘pants,’ whereas I call them ‘trousers,’
Therefore thou art in hell-fire and may the Lord pity thee!”
O God! O Montreal! 30

“Preferrest thou the gospel of Montreal to the gospel of Hellas,
The gospel of thy connection with Mr. Spurgeon’s haberdashery to the gospel of the Discobolus?”
Yet none the less blasphemed he beauty saying, “The Discobolus hath no gospel,
But my brother-in-law is haberdasher to Mr. Spurgeon.”
O God! O Montreal! 35
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Tripps » 03 Feb 2018, 10:28

" in the middle of these, an old man stuffing an owl."

I see your poem was first published in the Spectator in the 19th century - still going strong - in fact they used the word 'tervisergations' in yesterday's edition - made my day. :smile:

is there a genre of owl stuffing poetry? This one is my personal favourite. . .


The Owl-Critic
By James Thomas Fields (1817–1881)

A Lesson to Fault-finders

“WHO stuffed that white owl?” No one spoke in the shop:
The barber was busy, and he couldn’t stop;
The customers, waiting their turns, were all reading
The Daily, the Herald, the Post, little heeding
The young man who blurted out such a blunt question; 5
Not one raised a head or even made a suggestion;
And the barber kept on shaving.

“Don’t you see, Mister Brown,”
Cried the youth, with a frown,
“How wrong the whole thing is, 10
How preposterous each wing is,
How flattened the head is, how jammed down the neck is—
In short, the whole owl, what an ignorant wreck ’tis!
I make no apology;
I’ve learned owl-eology. 15
I’ve passed days and nights in a hundred collections,
And cannot be blinded to any deflections
Arising from unskilful fingers that fail
To stuff a bird right, from his beak to his tail.
Mister Brown! Mister Brown! 20
Do take that bird down,
Or you’ll soon be the laughing-stock all over town!”
And the barber kept on shaving.

“I’ve studied owls,
And other night fowls, 25
And I tell you
What I know to be true:
An owl cannot roost
With his limbs so unloosed;
No owl in this world 30
Ever had his claws curled,
Ever had his legs slanted,
Ever had his bill canted,
Ever had his neck screwed
Into that attitude. 35
He can’t do it, because
’Tis against all bird-laws
Anatomy teaches,
Ornithology preaches
An owl has a toe 40
That can’t turn out so!
I’ve made the white owl my study for years,
And to see such a job almost moves me to tears!
Mister Brown, I’m amazed
You should be so gone crazed 45
As to put up a bird
In that posture absurd!
To look at that owl really brings on a dizziness;
The man who stuffed him don’t half know his business!”
And the barber kept on shaving. 50

“Examine those eyes.
I’m filled with surprise
Taxidermists should pass
Off on you such poor glass;
So unnatural they seem 55
They’d make Audubon scream,
And John Burroughs laugh
To encounter such chaff.
Do take that bird down;
Have him stuffed again, Brown!” 60
And the barber kept on shaving.

“With some sawdust and bark
I would stuff in the dark
An owl better than that;
I could make an old hat 65
Look more like an owl
Than that horrid fowl,
Stuck up there so stiff like a side of coarse leather.
In fact, about him there’s not one natural feather.”

Just then, with a wink and a sly normal lurch, 70
The owl, very gravely, got down from his perch,
Walked round, and regarded his fault-finding critic
(Who thought he was stuffed) with a glance analytic,
And then fairly hooted, as if he should say:
“Your learning’s at fault this time, anyway; 75
Don’t waste it again on a live bird, I pray.
I’m an owl; you’re another. Sir Critic, good-day!”
And the barber kept on shaving.
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Tizer » 03 Feb 2018, 11:01

Last night we watched the first of Andrew Graham-Dixon's `Art, Passion & Power: The Story of the Royal Collection' LINK . Very good, but I suspect a lot of the Royal Collection would be under covers if the sensitive types got to know about them. An overdose of nudity! :laugh5:

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 04 Feb 2018, 05:00

Not necessarily Tiz. The decision to remove the offending painting has been reversed after universal outrage. The museum say they were 'just testing the water'........
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 06 Feb 2018, 06:59

I finished Irving's 'Wide Body' yesterday and expect Norman's book on General Anders to arrive today.
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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Tizer » 06 Feb 2018, 11:34

I still keep dipping into `Somerset at War' (Mac Hawkins, 1988). As well as all the obvious information about army units, home guard, airfields etc there are lots of stories you don't easily find elsewhere, mainly because you don't know to look for them. For example, in 1939 the government told Imperial Airways and British Airways Ltd to make plans to move its operations away from the south-east to a safer area. When war began in September they made the move to Whitchurch airfield near Bristol and merged to form BOAC in November. People in the Bristol area were astonished to see about 60 large aircraft (including the HP42 Heracles ) flying over them and into Whitchurch as the company moved in!

Another odd bit of information and something that would have surprised the locals at the time was seeing a 4-engined Focke Wulfe Condor flying in BOAC colours to and from Whitchurch. That must have puzzled the Observer Corps and been tempting providence! Before WW2 Germany had bypassed the regulations preventing them manufacturing bombers by building big airliners that could easily be converted to bombers. Some were sold to foreign airlines, which must have included Imperial Airways and/or British Airways. I looked on the Web and found little about this but here is a related snippet ...

"The FW Condor was indeed originally an airliner and pre-war had been purchased by several non-German airlines, including the Danish national airline. After the declaration of war but before Denmark was annexed by Germany, Condors in Danish civilian markings were still frequent visitors to British airfields ... not usually at Croydon because of wartime restrictions but at other minor civilian airfields around southern England, like Shoreham-by-Sea near Brighton. After the German occupation of Denmark one Danish Condor found itself stranded in Britain. It was duly requisitioned and was briefly repainted in BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) wartime colours, although lack of suitable parts probably curtailed its career. My father, an RAF aircraftman, was in 1942 involved in stripping down/crating up civilian aircraft for shipment overseas (to Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia etc) to be used in the Commonwealth Air Training Programme. He said he was sure he once saw a FW Condor in BOAC colours when he was at RAF Stapleford-Tawney, near Romford."
LINK

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Re: READ ANY GOOD BOOKS LATELY?

Post by Stanley » 07 Feb 2018, 06:20

Funnily enough I was reading about that Condor yesterday. My Anders book didn't turn up so I decided to follow Wide Body, the story of the 747 by reading Arthur Pearcy's magisterial book about the Douglas comany's prop airliners (Which of course includes the DC3, the Dakota). He details the early history of airliners and that's where the Condor is mentioned.
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