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Roger Risborough (Richmond)

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That Close
That Close
Price: £3.49

3.0 out of 5 stars One or two steps not far enough, 24 Aug 2014
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This review is from: That Close (Kindle Edition)
Structurally, this is a strange book. It starts as a conventional autobiography, then loses its chronological thread to become a memoir, and ends-up as a sort of collagey scrap-book of essays about family, friends and holidays. So quite off-beat, a bit like Suggs himself, who goes out of his way to avoid revealing too much about the true dynamics of Madness and its various members. I'm sure this would have been a very different book if it had been written in Madness's wilderness years (1987 to 1992), when perhaps some of the inevitable tensions in a seven man band would have been revealed, but instead it's been written in the golden glow of the Madness revival, when Suggs can't afford to offend his fellow band members as they all make the most of our nostalgia for the nutty boys, and Suggs himself has become a national institution. National institutions, of course, rely on maintaining the status quo, but I may be straying into one of Suggs's anecdotes about Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi's stage gear being the same as their street gear. And that's about as revealing as this book gets.


A Street Cat Named Bob
A Street Cat Named Bob
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars It has, I do, it is., 23 Aug 2014
Any (audio)book that makes you think differently about people (and animals), has got to be worth 5 stars, hasn't it?
It has, I do, and it is.


Downhill [DVD] [2014]
Downhill [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ Karl Theobald, Jeremy Swift, Ned Dennehy Richard Lumsden
Offered by Rambling Road Entertainment LTD
Price: £11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars West to East up North, 15 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Downhill [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Loved it. A well-worn footpath, maybe, (former college-mates reunion, rambling west to east up north), but a wonderful walk in heart-warming company.


The Presidentís Hat
The Presidentís Hat
Price: £0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's New Hat, 15 Aug 2014
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The logical thing to do on finishing this book would be to leave it on a bench in the park for a random stranger to pick up and let it improve their life. In the age of Kindle, that's not really a practical solution, but having read the book, I'm not desperate to keep hold of it. By it's own admission, this is a fairy tale, telling the story of how accidental temporary possession of Francois Mitterrand's hat can lead to new-found confidence, reawakened creativity, self-determination, and, well, health, wealth and happiness. And it's as simple as that. Not so much The President's Hat as The Emperor's New Clothes.


10 for 10: Hedley Verity and the Story of Cricket's Greatest Bowling Feat
10 for 10: Hedley Verity and the Story of Cricket's Greatest Bowling Feat
Price: £5.66

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 out of 10. An Elegy and a Eulogy, 4 Aug 2014
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This is both an extended eulogy to the greatness of Hedley Verity as a cricketer and a man, and a wistful elegy to a lost era of English cricket before the Second World War. It is Monday 11 July 1932. Donald Bradman is the undisputed king of world cricket and Yorkshire are the kings of the English game. Europe is poised between emerging from the Great Depression and descending into brutal conflagration, and cricket is at its own pivot between its Golden Age and the acrimony of the Bodyline series, which is just a few months away. At Headingley, it is pouring with rain, and in an age of uncovered wickets when most spinners would be licking their lips, Hedley Verity is expecting "some fun" but regretting that his work will be too easy the next day. In fact it was going to be easier than for any bowler before or since, as he made hay on a drying pitch to pinch all ten Nottinghamshire second innings wickets for exactly ten runs. The perfection of the figures is beautiful and appropriate, and has never been matched or bettered. Chris Waters takes us forensically through the background, the build-up, the match itself, and the shocking aftermath, and if this sometimes feels like a small subject spun-out into a book-sized delivery, the power of the Hedley Verity story makes this a compelling read all the way through to the close. For me, born in 1960 (and in Lancashire), names like Verity, Leyland, Sutcliffe and Rhodes, were always known (along with their records), but what "10 for 10" does most effectively is to bring these long-gone heroes back to life, and allows us all to wallow in a Golden Age, long ago.


Such a Long Journey
Such a Long Journey
Price: £4.79

4.0 out of 5 stars Noble Obligations, 30 July 2014
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This is a book about transitions. Set in Bombay in 1971, the Indian Sub-Continent is again sub-dividing with the creation of Bangladesh amidst the fall-out of India and Pakistan going to war with each other. There are battles going on too, in the life of our central character, Gustad Noble, whose children are growing up and growing away, as he becomes increasingly aware of his own generation's transition towards the dying of the light. As a Parsi bank worker, Gustad is a perfect vehicle for exploring India's complex pluralist theologies and the emergence of the new middle classes. Whilst Gustad never questions his religion, his faith in family, friends and mankind in general is tested throughout this journey. There are resonances and lessons here that stretch out universally beyond India, and will movingly touch all of us who are flawed fathers trying to make the best of our obligations, noble or other wise.


French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France
French Revolutions: Cycling the Tour de France
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tour de Force, 24 July 2014
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I've just finished this whilst on holiday in France and watching The Tour de France on TV, and Tim Moore's book was the perfect accompaniment to all that. I much preferred French Revolutions to his later Spanish Steps - things happen faster on a bike than alongside a donkey, and the history of the Tour was (to me) much more interesting than the history of the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, although the annual Gallic bike ride seems to engender just as much (if not more) reverential hysteria. The usual Moore preoccupations all line up with him at the start of his one-man circuit of France (self-deprecation, being generally out of his depth, unfriendly interchanges with the natives, problems with language, equipment, accommodation and family) but what sustains him most as he covers over 3,000 km (genuinely impressive) is his trade-mark wry bemusement and deep respect for the real riders who have gone before.


Last Days of the Bus Club
Last Days of the Bus Club
Price: £2.99

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Squeezing The Last Pips From The Lemons, 14 July 2014
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I hesitate to give this book its lowest star rating so far, if only to avoid the good kicking that normally leads to in "unhelpful" votes from friends, family (I'm sure that won't be the case here), and die-hard fans who hand-out 5 star reviews unquestioningly . . .
Leaving Amazon politics to one side, I was seduced into reading this after hearing the author on the radio, and had always meant to read one of his books. Maybe it was unfair to start with the fourth (and last?) part of the trilogy (author's joke), because this book refers back constantly to the earlier books, and Chris Stewart's story is no longer that of the outsider struggling with an unfamiliar culture, landscape and property, he is now the recognised local celebrity bogged-down by signing books, opening the local fiesta and judging tuna competitions. So there's a general absence of jeopardy, save for some torrential rain, a few lost sheep and impenetrable Spanish bureaucracy. Most disconcerting for the new reader though, is the way each chapter just sort of fizzles out rather than arriving at the expected punchline that defines this genre of book. Once you have come to terms with this though, you can relax into the amiable descriptions of landscape, family and friends - the people, in fact, who are probably right now reaching for the "unhelpful" button.


The Deaths
The Deaths
Price: £3.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Build My Gallows High, 22 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Deaths (Kindle Edition)
The "Deaths" of the title are revealed in the second chapter of this novel - but what is not apparent until late-on, is who has actually died. The murderer, though, is obvious from page one - It's Mark Lawson himself, who unflinchingly stabs-in-the-back the conspicuously-consumerist home-counties middle-classes as they struggle to come to terms with the recent recession. Our main protagonists, "The Eight" (as they self-refer) are four couples living in near-identical grand houses in a fictional village somewhere between Milton Keynes and the M40. Membership of "The Eight" dictates their social lives (endless dinner parties with the same guest list), their households (matching numbers/ages of children, nannies, pets and cars), their family ties (serial cross-god-parenting), the husbands' journeys to work (sharing a "four" in 1st class), business overlaps (a non-execship here, a scratched-back there), school choices (expensive) and their vices (pride, greed, avarice, adultery, in fact all of them). So they are all inextricably tied together in a claustrophobic noose of competition (all four families could easily have been called "The Jones'"), self-importance, entitlement and dismissal of the outside world. In short they need each other to bench-mark themselves, but the noose starts to tighten as the fall-out from the recession starts to bite - and fault-lines (previously glossed-over with alcohol, credit and excess spending) crack wide open as health. wealth and happiness all come under threat. Critics will dismiss the main characters as caricatures - they are, but they are wonderfully realistic caricatures, and first class carriages and private school parents' evenings are stuffed full of people like "The Eight". Mark Lawson must have ransacked his own social life for many of the all-too-accurate traits and trends, and it's ironic that the impending doom he builds up for "The Eight" is not dissimilar to what he has himself experienced at The BBC recently. This is clearly a salutary tale - not just of the Recession, but a reminder that while we all convince ourselves that we're busy building "Happy Families", we may just be building a giant gallows that it is impossible to come down from in one piece.


Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life
Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life
Price: £2.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dear Nina . . ., 11 Jun 2014
This is fresh and fun, and very much in the rhythm of "Dear Lupin", with the whole book comprising one half of a postal correspondence from years ago. In Dear Lupin, that correspondence was between errant son and forgiving father - here it's sister-in-the-sticks and sister-in the-bright-lights-of-literati-London. Our writer and heroine, Nina ("Stibbe") escapes small-town Lincolnshire to be billeted as a nanny in Gloucester Terrace in the eighties. Her employer is the editor of the London Review of Books, and immediate neighbours include Alan Bennett, Claire Tomalin and Michael Frayn. So there's name dropping on every page, along with cultural reminders from down the years (remember when people didn't know whether to keep balsamic vinegar in the bathroom or the kitchen?). There's a small repertory cast of characters that pop-up in Nina's daily life and hence are mentioned/critiqued in her letters to her sister. Everyone will have their own favourites - mine was fellow student Stella, she of the failed hair-dye and the postman-boyfriend who seemed to have stopped delivering. This is the tale of the nanny and childhood that none of us ever had (apart from the two quick-witted Frears boys) - and after reading this, it feels like we've all missed out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 7, 2014 3:52 AM BST


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