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Tony Howard

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Bal De Danse
Bal De Danse
Price: 13.70

3.0 out of 5 stars Not Very French, and Disappointingly Clunky in Places, 31 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bal De Danse (Audio CD)
I bought this as part of my mother's birthday present - she lived in Paris before the war and wanted some CDs of Bal Musette type music. I realised these chaps were German before I bought the album, but was assured that they did a nice job on the Cafe de Paris thing. Hmmm. I had a couple of exploratory listens, and have decided to buy something else for my mum instead, and write it off to experience. The band excels in what might be described as Central European Tangos - familiar to all passengers on overnight North Sea ferry services - but the French stuff is not convincing, and - most importantly - the accordionist struggles badly on anything resembling a swing tempo. Stiff. There are a couple of strange moments in the second track which I felt I must have misheard, but - no - they are traffic accidents, right enough. The result is that anything with other than a straight-eighth-note tempo is lumpy and awkward, and I am very disappointed.

You might enjoy this, I really have no idea, but i would not recommend it. It's well recorded, which is more than you can say about genuine 1930s Bal Musette, but the band is not comfortable in their chosen French genre, and they certainly managed to spread their discomfort to this listener.

Battle Of Ocana (Great Battles of First Empire) (Great Battles of the First Empire)
Battle Of Ocana (Great Battles of First Empire) (Great Battles of the First Empire)
by Pierre Juhel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 30.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, but nobody proof-reads the translated editions, 14 Mar 2014
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As ever with this series, the book is beautiful, and the artwork and uniform plates splendid. Also as ever with this series, the English translated edition is a disgrace - it's not just the odd mistake of language - factual information is lost, changed, transposed, distorted - too many examples to list. If any proof-reading at all is carried out (which I doubt) then it was done by someone who had so little understanding of the subject matter that the whole production is badly compromised. I have a number of books from this series - Wagram, 1814 campaign and a couple of others - in each case, the French editions are vastly superior.

The good news is that this book covers a rare subject, and covers it well (if you double check the translated English - the translator, for example, cannot distinguish between a division, a regiment or a battalion) - buy it, and enjoy it, but be warned!

Lines of Wellington [2012] [Import]
Lines of Wellington [2012] [Import]
Dvd ~ John Malkovich
Offered by uniqueplace-uk
Price: 15.72

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Good - Military Soap, 31 Jan 2014
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This film is a depiction of the retreat of the Anglo-Hanoverian-Portuguese army's retreat to the Lines of Torres Vedras in 1811, during the Peninsular War. Interesting in an off-beat sort of way. Well filmed, but the historical authenticity is very patchy. A good measure of gratuitous nudity, to keep everyone awake. The Portuguese actor who plays the upper class English officer is absolutely hysterical - right out of the Fast Show - why didn't someone tell them this was a really bad idea? The film is made in multiple languages - the French speak French. the Portuguese speak Portuguese and the Brits speak English, and the narrator speaks Portuguese. Subtitles on my copy of the DVD are in a choice of French or Dutch, though the film is listed on Amazon as in English with subtitles. I don't think a change of language would have had much effect on my enjoyment. Many strange bits - some parts give the impression that they made it up as they went along. John Malkovich is a very odd Wellington, and at one point he is heard instructing someone in the correct recipe for (and I guessed correctly) Beef Wellington. The director missed out on a good opportunity to balance this by having the French staff discuss frogs' legs, but no matter.

I wouldn't bother watching this - certainly do not buy it.

Jim Dunlop  Lok Strap
Jim Dunlop Lok Strap
Offered by Bridport Music
Price: 1.64

3.0 out of 5 stars Good Enough Product, but Silly Me!, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Jim Dunlop Lok Strap
These things are very useful - I've used them for years - cheap and effective, and they are simple to use and won't damage either strap or instrument. I needed some new ones. I got caught out by not reading the ad properly - the marketplace seller (Bridport Music) sells these things SINGLY. That makes sense for a guitar strap with only one end, of course. Since I have only been aware of them being sold in (more sensible) pairs in the past, I fell right into the elephant trap. I ordered 3, which - as I now realise - turned out to be 3 single strap locks rather than 3 pairs. Not to worry - these items are cheap enough, so I've ordered another couple of PAIRS from ANOTHER marketplace seller. My fault - I should have read the ad properly. Quite amusing really - I'll have to be very careful to check next time I buy coffee beans, or shoes, or peanuts, in case they are priced singly as well. In the meantime, i have a perfect set of strap locks for attaching to the ends of a bolas, or maybe a Martian guitar strap - a useful conversation piece, you'll agree.

Mira Response 411.23 Clamp Shower Bracket 1.411.23.3.0
Mira Response 411.23 Clamp Shower Bracket 1.411.23.3.0
Offered by Plumbing Supermarket
Price: 19.14

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flimsy Product, but nothing else fits, 8 Dec 2013
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I keep buying these, and every time we have a house guest who doesn't wear their reading glasses in the shower (imagine!...), the clamp gets broken. The assembly is held together at the bottom by a little plastic ring with very flimsy lugs. If you try to move the shower by pulling on the shower head the lugs snap. I wish they would improve the design.

Bosch ART26LI Cordless Grass Trimmer
Bosch ART26LI Cordless Grass Trimmer

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Very Cheap, but Definitely Nasty, 25 April 2013
Over the years, as my gardening has come to take up a bigger portion of my spare time, I've gradually replaced a lot of cheap hardware with better quality stuff. It always pays off. Typically, I've replaced Black & Decker kit with heavier-duty Bosch. In this case, I needed a replacement for a big rechargeable strimmer which finally gave up the ghost when the motor blew. I already have a petrol brushcutter/strimmer, but that is far too heavy and awkward to do gentle stuff like lawn edging, so I was persuaded by the man at B&Q to get one of these units - the supposed simplicity of the plastic blades and the freedom from fitting strimmer reels are attractive.

Not good. It is disappointingly low on power, though it manages to destroy or throw away the plastic blades at a horrifying rate, and it is very difficult and fiddly to adjust to trim at the right length. The blurb says it will do 1000 metres on one charge - I doubt if mine did 100. It was always a poor fit on the charger unit, so that it took a lot of levering and swearing to connect it or disconnect. After two years of fairly light use and careful battery management it will not hold enough charge to run - just gives up when I try to trim something. I'm going to replace it tomorrow.

Don't get one of these - this is the first Bosch garden product that has let me down, and it has rather shaken my faith!

The Battle Of Marston Moor - The Scots March South [DVD]
The Battle Of Marston Moor - The Scots March South [DVD]
Dvd ~ Terry Molloy
Offered by Not2day Media
Price: 4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good General Introduction - Sincere rather than Polished, 23 April 2013
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One of the earlier Cromwell Productions' films about the English Civil War. It's important not to underestimate the history credentials of the team behind this - Stuart Reid and Bob Carruthers are thoroughgoing professionals and know their subject well. The film presents a good, factual overview of the campaign and battle, and the very slightly home-made feel adds a certain sincere charm. The structure and the scoping are sensible and can't really be faulted, and the narration is deadpan but effective (though Leven, as in Lord Leven, should be pronounced "leeven" rather than "layven" throughout).

Since this disk is not part of an explicit series, some 10 minutes is taken up in explaining the origins of the ECW, which is a bit of an overhead in a 55 minute film, but you can understand why it is necessary. The Cromwell standard production style is in evidence, with copious action film of re-enactors - which is fun, but they are obviously trying not to hurt each other! The area which I find hardest to take seriously is in the casting of the principal personalities - in particular, they have a young, fairly chubby Charles I, with the dodgiest fake whiskers you will see this side of Allied Carpets. A pity, really, because it's so funny it is something of a distraction.

I feel that 4 stars is probably a bit generous, but it's a decent film, I'm a big fan of Stuart Reid, and there's nothing else like this on the market. I bought it for a bargain price on Amazon, at which it is excellent value.

Gettysburg (Ridley Scott's) [DVD]
Gettysburg (Ridley Scott's) [DVD]
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 10.81

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what they were trying to do, 12 Aug 2012
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Well, I finally decided to buy the movie, and have now watched it. I don't think I could sit through it again.

It's done on an ambitious scale - it looks like what it claims to be, a presentation of small elements of a major battle, and it gives an overview of the battle which is of wider scope than anything I've seen before. Photography is excellent, as you would expect, though I became fatigued by the relentless slo-mo close ups of exploding bullet wounds.

I'm really not certain why I found that it grated. I was not offended by anything as important as the cap badges(!), but the technique of switching between the accounts of the personal view (the selected individuals used to illustrate the story) and the high-level grand plan view leaves a gap in the middle which makes it hard to follow - I would have liked to see more of a narrative at divisional level as well. The blood and gore is probably over-done - we get the idea very quickly that war is horribly brutal, and the constant focus on this aspect gets uncomfortably close to obsession at times. The talking heads were not particularly interesting - they could have been anyone, and most of what they added was well known or obvious anyway. I think mostly it is the over-earnestness of the commentary - moronically explaining "he is now in terrible danger" and so forth - yes, we had sort of picked up on that as well.

I'm left unsure what the film was trying to do, if only to justify the big budget. I don't think it said anything new about Gettysburg, I dont think the micro vs macro view idea works very well, and the gory presentation tells us that war is not pleasant, and then explains it over and over again for the benefit of slower viewers. It didn't really make it as education, and as entertainment it is very much inferior to the Gettysburg film from the Gods & Generals trilogy. I was disappointed - I wanted it to be better than that.

Charging Against Wellington: The French Cavalry in the Peninsular War, 1807-1814
Charging Against Wellington: The French Cavalry in the Peninsular War, 1807-1814
by Robert Burnham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.97

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous - a unique resource, 18 Oct 2011
I waited a while for this to come into stock, and it is well worth the wait. This book is - specifically and very deliberately - not another general narrative of the Peninsular War - goodness knows there are sufficient of those around. It is a very detailed account of the organisation and engagements of the French cavalry in the Peninsula - every regiment, every general is here - where, when, how many, who they reported to, how the organisation changed during the period. Provisional regiments, escadrons de marche and foreign regiments are all covered - though not King Joseph's Spanish troops.

It is important to be clear what this book represents - it is very specific, detailed material which will be invaluable to wargamers and military history enthusiasts as a supplement to the general histories by (say) Oman and Esdaile, but a newcomer to the Peninsular War might well find it to be too specialised. Used as intended, this book is marvellous, and unrivalled - in the strict sense that there is no equivalent work - certainly not in English and probably not in French either.

History of the War in the Peninsula, Under Napoleon, Volume 1
History of the War in the Peninsula, Under Napoleon, Volume 1
by Maximilien Foy
Edition: Paperback
Price: 21.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Half-hearted reproduction of an invaluable book, 24 April 2011
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I can't really offer a worthwhile critique of General Foy's history, other than to say that as an eye-witness and participant, with magnificent powers of recall and description, he has left us something to be treasured. It is sad that the narrative cuts off around the Convention of Cintra - Foy's early death prevented the full fruition of his project.

The prospective purchaser should be warned about the quality of the publication - I bought both volumes. It is a facsimile taken from an electronic scan of the original 1827 translation, which is in itself no bad thing, but it is sloppily done. There are pages missing from the scan - a feature which the publisher claims adds authenticity (it doesn't - it just means that the scan was badly done) - and the title on the spine of Vol.1 is absent. The front cover of Vol.2 is dominated by a glaring typo. I am fortunate to also have an electronic scan of the work which is complete, so I can add the missing pages. I obtained the electronic version, free of charge, from Google Books website, which is exactly what anyone interested in this book should do, rather than buying the incomplete, unchecked, half-baked Nabu edition.

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