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Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks [Paperback]

John Betjeman , Stephen Games
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
Price: £7.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

14 Jun 2007

Eccentric, sentimental and homespun, John Betjeman's passions were mostly self-taught. He saw his country being devastated by war and progress and he waged a private war to save it. His only weapons were words - the poetry for which he is best known and, even more influential, the radio talks that first made him a phenomenon.

From fervent pleas for provincial preservation to humoresques on eccentric vicars and his own personal demons, Betjeman's talks combined wit, nostalgia and criticism in a way that touched the soul of his listeners from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Now collected in book form for the first time, his broadcasts represent one of the most compelling archives of twentieth-century broadcasting, reawakening the modern reader to Betjeman's unique perspective and the compelling magic of the golden age of wireless.


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Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks + Tennis Whites and Teacakes + Betjeman's England
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; Reprint edition (14 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0719561272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719561276
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A real treat ... A lovely, lovely anthology' (Daily Mail, Val Hennessy, Critic's Choice)

'Games... has produced a volume which no Betjemaniac will be without.' (Evening Standard: A.N. Wilson)

'What a joy' (Sunday Herald Magazine)

'Beautifully produced... Betjeman was evidently a comic writer of the highest class' (Guardian)

'Excellent' (Spectator)

'Informative and entertaining' (Scotsman)

'In Trains and Buttered Toast Betjeman's voice is gloriously new again' (The Times)

'Stephen Games has made a useful, entertaining selection of Betjeman's radio talks' (Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

Betjeman's infectious enthusiasms have made him a keystone of England's common culture.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essence of Betjeman 26 May 2006
By William
Format:Hardcover
This is a terrific selection of Betjeman's radio broadcasts. And it seems to be get to heart of the man's passions, prejudices and, of course, humour. The talk on Tennyson made me laugh out loud. But it's Betj's love of English architecture and way of life that come through so strongly in this collection. Reading the pieces you can almost hear that familiar voice one minute quietly serious and passionate, the next gently poking fun. What a remarkable man he was.
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90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new landmark in Betjeman studies 24 Aug 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is the most enjoyable Betjeman book I've ever read - a book that's so good, it ought to be part of the English Literature curriculum. More than that: it ought to be read by everyone applying for British citizenship! In the course of 360 pages, Betjeman plunges you into what he regarded as the major issues of English identity - issues of aesthetics, civic duty, relations with authority, and individuality.

I suppose that all these ideas are contained in Betjeman's poetry, but there one tends to get distracted into noticing rhythm and metre and scansion. And Betjeman's poetic ideas are smaller. Here, although the writing is often lyrical, he addresses topics in a much more direct way. He cares that unvalued townscapes are being destroyed, that there might be collusion between commercial interests and public officials, that the recent past and the middle brow are ignored by modern taste-makers. Especially in his earlier essays, he writes about these issues with passion and yet with a lightness of touch that engages the reader completely. Read this, and you cannot fail to agree that Betjeman stands as one of the foremost spokesmen of the twentieth century.

"Trains and Buttered Toast" (with its beautful cover design by Duff Tollemache) also shows that Betjeman was fascinated by individuals and individuality. He is correspondingly cruel about English stereotypes - the lumpen proletariat who, in the late 1940s, listened to popular music on car radios or went on holiday in luxury coaches. His point, however, is to criticise people's failure to open their eyes, ask original questions and discover fresh beauties - something he sees as the public's sheep instinct.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discovering Englishness 20 July 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a most enjoyable read for anyone interested in John Betjman or indeed anyone longing to go back to the times when trains had windows that would open! Stephen Games has skilfully edited talks given out on the BBC during a period of 40+ years. The range of topics, clearly indicating the diversity of the broadcaster, poet and architectual buff (self-taught) range from the wit of Tennyson to the lament of modernism encroaching on metropolitan and rural life, with many interesting talks covered in between. Anyone interest in "how we lived then" should buy this book now.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of Englishness 26 Jun 2007
Format:Paperback
This is the most enjoyable Betjeman book I've ever read - a book that's so good, it ought to be part of the English Literature curriculum. More than that: it ought to be read by everyone applying for British citizenship! In the course of 360 pages, Betjeman plunges you into what he regarded as the major issues of English identity - issues of aesthetics, civic duty, relations with authority, and individuality.

I suppose that all these ideas are contained in Betjeman's poetry, but there one tends to get distracted into noticing rhythm and metre and scansion. And Betjeman's poetic ideas are smaller. Here, although the writing is often lyrical, he addresses topics in a much more direct way. He cares that unvalued townscapes are being destroyed, that there might be collusion between commercial interests and public officials, that the recent past and the middle brow are ignored by modern taste-makers. Especially in his earlier essays, he writes about these issues with passion and yet with a lightness of touch that engages the reader completely. Read this, and you cannot fail to agree that Betjeman stands as one of the foremost spokesmen of the twentieth century.

"Trains and Buttered Toast" (with its beautful cover design by Duff Tollemache) also shows that Betjeman was fascinated by individuals and individuality. He is correspondingly cruel about English stereotypes - the lumpen proletariat who, in the late 1940s, listened to popular music on car radios or went on holiday in luxury coaches. His point, however, is to criticise people's failure to open their eyes, ask original questions and discover fresh beauties - something he sees as the public's sheep instinct.
Read more ›
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betjeman Revisited 21 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
This is a really warm and fond look at British life, taken from Betjeman's radio broadcasts. My favourite was the Eccentrics section, which made me laugh out loud. It reminded me of Bill Bryson's travel guides: Warm, funny and you always learn something new!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wallowing in nostalgia 19 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback
It's a great book. Eccentric and opinionated. Quite amazing that someone 70+ yrs ago thought about England exactly what many people think of it today - over-crowded, poor infrastructure, incongruous architecture, bad planning.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful collection.
A wonderful collection of John Betjeman's radio talks.
Published 7 days ago by Peter Hart
5.0 out of 5 stars not disappointed by this book
Knowing Betjeman very well indeed I was, of course, not disappointed by this book. It's a treasure, an delivery waas smooth and fast.
Published 29 days ago by Sven Jahnsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy
It is beautifully written and easy to pick up and put down - you can read as much or as little as you like but you are never disappointed.
Published 6 months ago by Ms D.
1.0 out of 5 stars SELLER MARY47102
BOOK ARRIVED PROMPTLY BUT WAS CARELESSLY WRAPPED IN OLD TISSUE PAPER AND A RE-USED PLASTIC ENVELOPE. BOOK WAS DESCRIBED AS NEW, PERFECT CONDITION, UNREAD. Read more
Published 9 months ago by COMPACTG
4.0 out of 5 stars The joys of a mature and donnish man.
Ideal journeying down memory lane for the over 60s and some useful insights for the young. Memory jogging and thought provoking.
Published 16 months ago by REVD W B BEER
5.0 out of 5 stars Trains and Buttered Toast, John Betjeman
Both I and my mother have this book and have loved it... Good for those who wish to remember England as it was...
Published 16 months ago by Elspeth Vanessa LESLIE
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't know
It was bought on behalf of someone else. x x x x x x x x x x x x
Published 22 months ago by Wousie
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia with a capital N
Wonderful - I can hear Betjeman's voice as I read it bringing back an age gone by
Published on 9 Oct 2010 by rachel
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