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the macrae (London United Kingdom)

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Festival Express [DVD]
Festival Express [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bob Smeaton
Price: 14.02

3.0 out of 5 stars 60's on track - good times, 11 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Festival Express [DVD] (DVD)
very enjoyable and a companion to the Band's Last Concert showing how a concert tour can be a disaster and a success all at the same time


Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible
Everest - The First Ascent: The untold story of Griffith Pugh, the man who made it possible
by Harriet Tuckey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of Mountains and Memories and the Fab Fifties, 11 Jun 2014
Don't write off the 50s as deadly dull. Actually there was a lot to celebrate and enjoy and I am not just talking about the ending of sweets' rationing but the great twin celebrations of the Coronation and the ascent of Everest.. We got the day off school and were taken in buses to the pictures to celebrate that greatest of feats.. This was in addition to getting another whole day off for the Coronation. Being a New Elizabethan promised us schoolchildren a great deal and our expectations were already being met by getting all this time off school. Harriet Tuckey's book captures that time very well and makes the point that being first up Everest had become very important for Britain - we needed a triumph to reassure us that Britain was still Great - a gift to lay at the feet of the new young Queen. But the old order could not be sustained. As Harriet writes, it was a time of "swirling conflicts behind the scenes, conflicts that embodies the political, cultural and social changes that were dragging the outdated fabric of British society into the modern age." She documents very well how these conflicts played out in the career of one man - her father. It is this personal perspective that gives the book its very special quality and impact. The story is at one level a tale of snobbery and amateurism standing in the way of scientific progress and professionalism but the heart of it is a daughter coming to an understanding of who her father was. A very weird guy after a childhood from which his parents were almost totally absent which left him with zero emotional intelligence. Unsurprisingly, he lacked the political nous needed to be a successful committee man - a skill needed to progress in the world of scientific research and the hunt for reputation and money to do the work. It is easy to see how tempting it would be to leave him out of the smoothly self-congratulatory accounts of the mountaineers and their sponsors. Griffith Pugh's findings and recommendations about survival at extreme heights and temperatures, were taken on board very reluctantly by a mountaineering caste whose minds and mentality were still suffused with the ideals that mountains belonged to the pure in mind and body and where getting to the top was deserved only if it was understood that to fail gloriously - and if necessary to die in trying - was as rewarding an outcome as actually standing on the top. Better to fail than use oxygen to give you an 'unfair advantage'. And it you did use oxygen or any other of the resources dreamed up by the mad boffins you had been forced to take along, then best keep quiet about it old boy when writing the memoirs. These were attitudes that were dramatically brought back to our attention when the mummified body of George Mallory - the most golden of gentleman climbers - was found in 1999. He had died with his climbing partner Sandy Irvine attempting Everest in 1924. Wade Davis's book "Into the Silence: the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest" matches Tuckey's tale describing how that 'public school' approach and the cult of the amateur had resulted in skilled mountaineers being left out of Mallory's party while Irvine was picked in spite of having never climbed higher than 5800 feet. He was apparently pretty good with a spanner and so was put in charge of the oxygen because as Harriet Tuckey quotes ' he was rather good with his hands'.. Just as this outlook on life had to be swept away in favour of evidence-based techniques not just about oxygen but food, tent and clothing materials, boot construction and above all the importance of drinking lots and lots of fluid, so too on the personal front, Harriet had to abandon her view of her father as a uncaring brute, uninterested in his children and unfaithful to his wife. It is not that these things were untrue but as her knowledge deepened of this complex man, the roots of his often appalling behaviour could be in part understood and some connection made with the human being underneath. Harriet wept at the funeral but "my tears were not tears of grief. They were tears of anger". The anger was fuelled by resentment and frustration at not knowing the man. By the end of her work on the book, her anger had gone to be replaced by satisfaction that she had been his chronicler. Most of us will never climb Everest - the queues are quite long enough - but perhaps we might have realised that achieving an understanding of our parents and the world that they lived in and why they made the decisions they did is our own huge mountain that we have to climb. Harriet Tuckey's book helps us understand this and in its clarity and humanity is an excellent read.


Dearest Jane...: My Father's Life and Letters
Dearest Jane...: My Father's Life and Letters
by Roger Mortimer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Life in Letters, 1 April 2014
This book - which some might carelessly catalogue as a romp through the delights of a Home Counties posh family history - is much more than that. The initial impression is of a lightly written jolly chronicle of life amongst the toffs afloat on a sea of gin. But once you get into the book. it becomes all the more powerful - underneath the surface, the feelings are present and all the more moving because they are hidden and controlled in the best tradition of the class and the lives it chronicles. The way the book is written, sets the extracts in context - more so than the other books Jane's siblings have written using the same generous source -pater's letters. Read it straight through or as and when you choose - there is always a plum to be pulled out and enjoyed. I look forward to the Omnibus edition.


The Great Beauty [Blu-ray]
The Great Beauty [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Toni Servillo
Price: 10.23

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fills the eye, 16 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
had seen this film in the cinema already so bought the DVD because I thought i would watch it again and again.


Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure
by Artemis Cooper
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 17.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Peter Pan and Never Never Land, 27 May 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
PLF had a childhood without parents or siblings which he came to idealise as part of a time remembered as 'pure unalloyed bliss'. He never developed a loving relationship with either his mother or father. His biographer resists the temptation to stray into modern pyschotherapeutic territory, no facile theorising for her that sees Paddy Leigh Fermor as Peter Pan. Did he find it impossible to write the last instalment of his pre-war travels because it would show that Never Never Land and the people who lived there were dead and gone and what was he doing still alive? What was left to him except to dreaming of a Greece that perhaps never existed or if it did, was well gone. Were people only real if they were shepherds speaking some unknown language and living in a wigwam? The only novel he wrote was of an island that suddenly blew up and ceased to be, leaving one survivor.

It seems a stylistic choice - and very possibly the right one - by Artemis Cooper to stay detached and reflect the emotional style of her hero and his friends where to be amusing and interesting was the highest goal. No one was a more enthusiastic imitator of that aristocratic style than the middle class Paddy. His biographer brings to the table her experience as a chronicler of the last great flourish of upper class fun and nonchalance in the face of danger - everyone who was anyone was in Cairo in WW2 from Elizabeth David to Countess Ranfurly. What made it special was the threat of death - Cairo in the war was great fun (for officers at least). It was just that not everybody returned from the front to buy another round of drinks or an ice-cream at Groppi's. The menace of Captain Hook and man-eating crocodiles were real. War is made for people who make themselves up like Paddy Leigh Fermor who turned his back on an England where he could not make himself a living and found himself a fantasy life in what was his Never Never Land of Romanian/Moldavian/Hungarian counts and countesses,lovers and scholars, retainers and castles. An experience that can never be repeated because the way of life has been destroyed like the volcanic island as were many of the men and women he loved. His genius was to write many years after his walk what are not travel stories but fairy tales.

Ms Cooper does not appear to do anything as tasteless as to break sweat as she unfurls this long life - she does occasionally hint at a hinterland of despair and emotional dislocation but she treads very carefully and avoids being a rude and disruptive presence that might shatter reputation. I wanted to know about the man - I knew the work and the reputation (based on a dreadful film). This account was more meringue than meat pie and left me hungry for more. PFH's legacy is not as fragile as this author makes out.


The Last Burrah Sahibs
The Last Burrah Sahibs
by Max Scratchmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Box Wallah Memories, 30 Dec 2012
This review is from: The Last Burrah Sahibs (Paperback)
They are a dwindling band now with fewer and fewer attending their golf days at places like Elie - the old Dundee Calcutta jute wallahs. This book commemorates them without sentiment and a lot of humour at a time when few traces of the jute industry remain in Dundee - a framed shred of the last cargo landed on display in the Dundee Arts Centre and a factory museum. Max catches the dying moments (for Dundonians at least) with humour and energy and He manages to cover both the experiences and enthusiasms of the school child with a hint of what was going on in a wider world with a war to come that created a new nation from East Pakistan. A read for the other children of the jute trade like me, herded onto and closely restrained on the summer BOAC flights, being chauffered in their cars to the Swimming Club, living in the big houses next to the mill, whose first emotional relationships were with the ayahs and servants deputed to look after them. Students of a neglected part of the economic history of Empire will enjoy the rest Max gives them from the debate around the deeds of Empire - exploitation or development?


AT THE KREMLIN GATES: A Historical Portrait of Moscow
AT THE KREMLIN GATES: A Historical Portrait of Moscow
by Gerald R. Skinner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moscow Mysteries Unveiled, 1 Jan 2012
Moscow for a long time was for me just where the bad guys lived - a city that had fought off Napoleon and the Germans (they were the good guys then) to become the centre of the cold war enemy - for a while,the real life Mordor of our time. Gerald Skinner has used his knowledge of Russian gained by living and working in that citadel city to show us behind the fortifications and the secrets to show us what he calls 'its many pasts' as well as its new glitzy oligarch-ridden present with appalling traffic. A city is the people in it as much as the wood and stones of its walls and roofs and Gerry as a Canadian ex-diplomat writes lightly and well of the Russians themselves and his survival strategies as student and diplomat - see his advice on not getting trapped in a lift in the older and shoddier tower blocks. It was in a lift that the murderers of the radical journalist Anna Politovskaya dumped her body. Moscow is not all death and war - it has a very important spiritual history. For me the key point is how Communism and Communists are linked to the long spiritual past of Moscow. That dogma can be seen as the latest manifestation of the religious and political culture going back to the first contacts between Moscow and Byzantium in 860AD. Not necessarily a book to read right through all at once but it will remain an essential source of knowledge and looking at it before a visit to the city for work or play would add a great deal to the interest of your stay. Take it with you and talk about it with a Moscovite perhaps?


Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories
Orchards in the Oasis: Recipes, Travels & Memories
by Josceline Dimbleby
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Positively Proustian, 7 Oct 2010
Do you think people who compulsively catalogue their life are a bit weird? Obsessive egotists bound up in the minutiae of a life that no one is in slightest bit interested in except themselves and perhaps the judges in a Bore of the Century competition? Well you have to make at least one exception now.

Josceline Dimbleby tells us that she has kept photos and diaries from when she was eight or so and has put them to stunningly good use in this fabulous pudding of a book - a plum everytime you stick in your thumb. I skipped the recipes to read the story of a life astonishingly well lived by some one who should be about 40 stone by now judging by her weakness for the sweetest of puddings. The way she can invoke a journey or a destination in the sharpest focus makes Proust's madeleine dull and flavourless. Eat your heart out Marcel and so will we. For all the exotic destinations evoked here, the best bit for me was here in Britain with the stories of family holidays in Devon.


The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [DVD] [2007]
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: 2.16

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Western goes Russian, 28 Mar 2008
all that snow and the cold and the slowness - Have not seen so much snow since Dr Zhivago altho' to be fair the snow looked very much more real in this movie. It is as though Dostoevsky has been commissioned to write the screen play as we move slowly on in this tragic story with its meditations on fame and notoriety, friendship and betrayal. I saw it in the cinema at the early evening show before supper and was not prepared for the aching length of it in a cramped seat in the stalls, feeling hungry. Everyone in the group stayed to 'the end' but came out cursing the length but by the end of supper, we were beginning to think we had seen something good and interesting. See it in a comfortable seat, draw the curtains, open the door of the fridge. shoot out the fridge light and watch.


Emotionally Weird
Emotionally Weird
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bonnie Dundee?, 28 Mar 2008
This review is from: Emotionally Weird (Paperback)
Dundee is a weird place and this book has discovered the best (perhaps the only) way to write about it. Kate Atkinson catches the tone of the place in the way for example, she presents us with the two old Dundee wifies and her gift for suggesting accent and dialect while not excluding the foreign reader is superb. Dundee was my father's town and to an extent, mine and the book is a bit of a personal nostalgia binge and may indeed overdo as others have said the 'here is a bit of crap creative writing'. But for the playfulness and humour, I found my second reading even better than the first. It is a ghost story and reminds us that all our pasts are made up, our past lives largely imaginary with various versions created to suit different people and different times of our lives. Enjoy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 14, 2011 11:24 PM BST


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