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Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
Whatshisname: The Life and Death of Charles Hawtrey
by Wes Butters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Odd Title - Fabulous Book, 31 Aug. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
An odd title for the book, seeing as Charles Hawtrey is one of the familiar and well loved stars of the Carry Ons - a better title would have been "Charles Hawtrey - Oh Hello!".

This is an extremely well researched and well written book, written by an author who appreciates, understands and has such a feel for his subject; but who never flinches from showing us the most unpleasant sides to Mr Hawtrey's character. On screen, Mr Hawtrey was a delight, gleefully flitting about with a mischievous wit and naughty élan few could ever approach. Off screen, we learn of the darkness, the loneliness, the demons and of how he was often far from a delight. This biography is by no means a dish the dirt biography, it is just that it does not attempt a whitewash. It is a touching, sad story of a man who gave such much to entertain others and was so loved, yet whose story was in so many ways so tragic. A man who was frequently hard to love, but who had love in his heart - the part covering the death of his little cat illustrates this.

For anyone who is a fan of the Carry Ons; those joyous unashamed pleasures, (and how could you not be?) this is an indispensable work. It is superb, filled with insight, information, sadness and laughter. Even if you were not a fan of the Carry Ons, this is a very well written account of a very complex and interesting man. We learn so much and gain such insight into the life and character of Mr Hawtrey, this is an illuminating work and one to be heartily recommended.

Now Mr Butters should write about Sid James.

Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete Third Series [DVD]
Upstairs Downstairs - The Complete Third Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Gordon Jackson

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A True Classic, 7 Mar. 2007
I remember (just about) when Upstairs Downstairs was originally shown, but I was too young to appreciate it and remember the storylines. ITV3 began showing repeats and are now in the middle of the third series - this means sadly, that the previous reviewer has spoiled a plot line for me as I am watching the episodes in order. The previous reviewer gives away a plot in series four (without giving a spoiler warning), so if you haven't watched up to this point yet, avoid reading too far in this person's review. Watching the repeats made me want to buy all the discs of the series and watch all the hours of this wonderful programme again, as I knew it would not be money wasted. This is a series that even makes me get up early on Sunday mornings instead of having a lie in! It is that good.

The cast are all faultless and the contrast between what life was like for people such as the Bellamy family and the servants is very evocatively portrayed. If one didn't appreciate modern life before watching this series, one certainly would afterwards. A true classic. Classic is an overused word, but an entirely proper one to describe this series.

A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition
A Short History of Nearly Everything: Special Illustrated Edition
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy Bill, 28 Feb. 2007
A sterling and immensely readable (as always) book from Bill Bryson. A departure from his usual travelogues, though he is more than capable of dealing with the enormity of the subject matter. He gets to grips with great thinkers such as Newton, Darwin and so on and in the process helps us get to grips with them and the massive scope of this work. Rigorously thought out but about as far from a "dry facts" book that one could get. If Bill wasn't a journalist, he would be a great teacher. You can always trust a Bryson to make you chuckle and teach you at the same time. Also as well as the fun; a serious reminder for us to look after the earth and not destroy the precious things that have evolved over the great expanse of time.

Clangers: The Complete First Series [DVD]
Clangers: The Complete First Series [DVD]
Dvd ~ Oliver Postgate
Offered by Assai-uk
Price: £7.99

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Postgate & Firmin = buy it!, 6 Feb. 2007
If anything, I love these stories now more than ever. Beautiful stories and animation from Postgate and Firmin - captivating for adults and children alike.

If you remember the Clangers from your youth, buy their DVD, if you know any children, buy them the DVD. If you have never heard of or seen the Clangers (poor you) buy this DVD.

Wonderful music also; (a CD is available and I have it of course) as well as perfect narration to go with the lovely well drawn out stories and characters.

The Complete Bagpuss [1974] [DVD]
The Complete Bagpuss [1974] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Oliver Postgate
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £10.98

109 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Saggy Old Cloth Cat Puss, 6 Feb. 2007
Sometimes one remembers the programmes with one's youth with a rosy glow but upon revisiting a programme is sadly disappointed. I remember vividly being excited at the prospect of Bagpuss coming on the television when I was a child and so I decided to invest in the DVD.I already have oodles of Bagpuss stuff (Bagpuss hot water bottle cover, singing mice etc), but wanted to see if the old programmes still held up.

They do.

Utterly brilliant as usual from Postgate and Firmin, well drawn out stories and characters and beautiful animation.

Buy it for a child of today, or just yourself.

I as well as Emily, love him.

The Complete Bod [DVD]
The Complete Bod [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Le Mesurier
Offered by Copeylad
Price: £24.85

12 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Shame, 6 Feb. 2007
This review is from: The Complete Bod [DVD] (DVD)
It is a shame I had to go and watch Bod again - I have several of the 1960s & 70s childrens TV series and this is one I wish I hadn't revisited. Don't listen to the Amazon reveiwer on this one as they do love their purple prose and do read an awful lot into simple little Bod, ironically not giving him much of a reccomendation in the process.

The story lines are not very good, the writing is poor to say the least, one never gets a good story as one does with say, that saggy old cloth cat-puss. Where the story goes is important and with the better Postgate/Firmin (they rule!) programmes one always gets an utterly brilliant story and the little ones can learn as well as be entertained.

I was having a discussion with a colleague about revisting programmes of our childhood and we agreed that this one was one we could drop off at the charity shop - but just let anyone try and separate us from our Bagpuss, Clangers or Ivor the Engine!

Wild South America: Andes to Amazon [DVD]
Wild South America: Andes to Amazon [DVD]
Price: £6.15

25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, 4 Jan. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Breathtaking (in a good way) - not the most original thing I could have said about this DVD, but I would urge you to buy it even if [...] were selling it for a much higher price. It pretty much leaves one speechless, it is truly stunning. Worth watching again and again - as if one needed reminding how precious and precarious Earth's biodiversity is.

Cube: Keep the Secret
Cube: Keep the Secret
by Annie Gottlieb
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

30 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Meant to be Taken Seriously, 4 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Cube: Keep the Secret (Paperback)
Hopefully. If you are at all interested in the psychology of illusion, being aware of what people are thinking and, especially how to manipulate that for effect; this book will be an OK read to help with insight into people's need to believe. The needier people are, the more easily they are manipulated. If people actually take this seriously then they need to be warned they are amongst the babies that people find it oh so easy to take candy from. Just ask a Psychologist or Illusionist - but quite often they are the same person. However, there are far better books on the market that will assist with human psychology, so perhaps don't buy this one if you are a serious student of human behaviour or interested in learning about illusion techniques.

This book has now made it to the recyc bin, as 1) My bookshelves creak worringly 2) It isn't really a good book and 3) Trees died for this? So as with other books I think this of I help it do its bit to save other trees.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2009 6:10 PM BST

Idiot Proof a Short History of Modern Delusions
Idiot Proof a Short History of Modern Delusions
by Francis Wheen
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wake-Up Call to Everyone's Brain, 20 July 2006
Clear thinking, well thought out and an intelligent read. The author satisfies the meaning of enlightened, clear thought and intelligence completely . I can't say that the author and I are at all alike politically etc but anyone with such a good brain is to be feted. He may have overturned somethings/everything that you have previously thought - but this is a good thing - everyone needs their brain to have a wake up call now and again. Especially people like the first reviewer (he is a good example to use to show what the author is highlighting). The way this reviewer uses the word enlightenment is rather ironic - using it for something that isn't just not enlightened, but for something that is completely unenlightened. The way he uses it and what it means ARE two mutually exclusive meanings. A bit rich and hard faced for someone like the first reviewer to use the word for something that is quite the opposite (the way he uses the word is like someone claiming that they are a maths genius when they cannot do their 2 x table). Unintelligent, irrational and making claims that have no basis in fact and yet the first reviewer is shameless enough to claim that actually this is enlightenment. It would be a risible enough claim if it wasn't enlightened, but even worse that it is completely unenlightened. This is just the sort of thing that the author shows up in this book - anyone can benefit from this book, even if one hasn't been gullible before - it is a sharp reminder that there are people out there, who may quite honestly believe what they are saying but put the gullible at risk of lapping up any claim so long as it feels good. Also a warning for the future - as it may be us emotionally vulnerable and at risk next.

If someone tried to sell you a washing machine, bike - in fact anything on the basis that the first reviewer likes to think that enlightenment means they would be prosecuted and find that the claims that have no basis in fact are not lapped up quite so easily. Sometimes previously intelligent people put their brains in a box when considering certain issues, but if you read this book you will find you are always very reluctant to switch your brain off. Woolly thinking - ie ignoring what to you is not a pretty thought & sticking with how I would like it to be as opposed to how it actually is, is just the sort of thing that the author of this book shoots down. The author is a knight in shining armour helping us to see through the crap (we might not like it though if we have to take off our rose tinted specs, but at least we would be seeing clearly). One doesn't have to agree with an opinion (evidence incontrovertible, yes) to applaud the fact of intelligent clear thought as opposed to gullibly soaking up emotional crutches and calling day night, just because that's what we like.

This book is a warning to us all - in case we are tempted to fall for a fantasy panacea - to actually switch our brains on. The people who need this book most of all are the gullible, but we can all benefit from our brains being reminded to think intelligently and clearly, so it is very worth the cover price, even if you already come equipped with a good crap filter.

It is sad that the most at risk are the gullible and vulnerable, whether for reasons of stupidity or emotional / mental health issues (I work with people with mental health issues, which is why I especially don't like the vulnerable being taken advantage of). Some people who are unable to cope with life for some reason are quite susceptible to fantasy panaceas, but instead of being encouraged in their delusions should be encouraged to seek counselling to help them discover why they need such emotional shoring up built on foundations of sand. It is sad and ironic that the ones that need to be protected most against stupid woolly theories and claims need most of all to be protected but are most at risk and the author of this book is fighting the good fight for them. Good on him! No-one should be taken advantage of, even if they are not using the brains properly that they were born with, & especially not those with coping or other mental health issues. This book is a warning and a reminder to us all that a lot of people are at risk from poorly used brains and less than rigorous thinking. Read this book as anything that strengthens your crap filter can only be a good thing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 30, 2014 8:36 AM BST

The Historian
The Historian
by Elizabeth Kostova
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nice Cover, 21 April 2006
This review is from: The Historian (Hardcover)
Yep it does have a nice cover and shamefaced I admit that is why I bought it - also in my defence I did think it sounded interesting too. My train was due and I wanted something to read on it, hence my purchase.

The author could have done so much more with this story, but she does not have the ability as an author to do that. The romances are cheesy, the characters are (sometimes especially) caricatures - she will throw in the odd "foreign" phrase to establish that yes, a character is indeed "foreign" - 'ow you say... I was really hoping for more, but if you like your fiction a bit trashy and pulpy read it, but really you deserve better. Not the best written novel I've ever read.

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