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Old Scot in France "beecluff" (France)

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Brideshead Revisited: The Complete Collection (30th Anniversary Remastered Edition) [DVD] [1981]
Brideshead Revisited: The Complete Collection (30th Anniversary Remastered Edition) [DVD] [1981]
Dvd ~ Jeremy Irons
Price: £9.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A faithfully portrayed and wonderfully acted series, 31 Oct 2014
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Having suffered some extremely poor screen portrayals of superb novels of which I know the text very well I was wary about getting this one. And when I did get it and played the opening episode I very nearly didn't bother to look at the rest because of a silly mistake in which Captain Charles Ryder adresses his Colour Sergeant (three stripes and a crown on his upper sleeve) as 'Sergeant Major' because Company Sergeant Majors have a large crown at the wrist-end of the sleeve. I thought : well, if that's the attention to detail to be expected in the rest of this thing, then I won't bother.

But I was wrong --- totally wrong --- and when I did get round to watching the rest, I could hardly stop. This is a wonderful series. John Mortimer, the adapter who is given credit for the transformation from book to screen, would have deserved much credit -- if he had indeed been the adapter, because in fact it was all done by Derek Granger and director Charles Sturridge who get little if any kudos for their brilliance (along with a most skilled team, I hasten to add).

If you don't know the story -- look at this series of videos. If you DO know the story --- look at this series of videos.

Perhaps it's the lesser characters who come out best, in fact, although Irons, Andrews, Bloom and Quick are marvellous. The portrayals of Ryder's father by Gielgud and of Lord Marchmain by Olivier are truly marvellous. They teeter on the verge of comedy but -- just as one would expect of such geniuses -- bring their characters back to believability and drama just before you think they might be falling into caricature.

Charles Keating's acting as Rex Mottram is astonishingly accurate, and I suppose I single that one out because I considered it the most difficult of all to represent on the screen. The Paris restaurant scene with Charles Ryder is especially good. Exactly to the book -- well, all of it is ; but this one must have been especially difficult to adapt, act and produce, because it isn't dramatic, but explanatory. Always a tricky thing to do.

Then there's the more or less cameo part of Father Mowbray in which John le Mesurier is made to measure. I wonder who on earth could have been cast in that tiny but splendid part if he hadn't taken it. Then there are Simon Jones, Phoebe Nicholls, Jeremy Sinden, Nickolas Grace, Jane Asher . . . they're all marvellous. Nanny by Mona Washbourne . . . she was made for the part.

The whole thing is splendid. I could go on and on about the sensitivity of the acting by all of the players, and it's wrong to select individuals, because there isn't one single character who isn't represented absolutely faithfully -- apart from that poor Staff Sergeant.

I first read Brideshead over fifty years ago. Indeed I wrote a thesis on its relevance to Catholicism of the period and so on and so on, most pompously, and thought I knew it from cover to cover. Well maybe I did : but I know it better, now.


Pathe Collection -A Year To Remember - The 1950s [DVD]
Pathe Collection -A Year To Remember - The 1950s [DVD]
Price: £24.99

5.0 out of 5 stars History, Real History, 20 Sep 2014
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Absolutely marvellous. If you remember the 50s -- as I do, when at school -- then you'll find yourself really relating to what went on. It was a life-changing decade for the British people, and perhaps it jiggled us into more self-doubt about where we stood in the world. This seemed to be lower and lower, alas -- and although the decline was gradual it was pretty undignified.

Poor old Eden. He was in the shadow of the Great Man for so long, then overshadowed by events that he misread so catastrophically. But at least we kept our heads high for a bit longer. The Pathe collection is superb, and although it's naturally patriotic, in the best sense of the word, the reports are really down to earth. It's the even-handedness that is so impressive. Real history. Great stuff.


Bad Banks: Greed, Incompetence and the Next Global Crisis
Bad Banks: Greed, Incompetence and the Next Global Crisis
by Alex Brummer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Horrible People : Great Book, 20 Sep 2014
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Never at a loss for a cliche I can say sincerely that he tells it like it is. Brummer knows what he's writing about and puts complicated financial drivel into understandable prose. The greed and incompetence are described with style and pretty mercilessly. But then, none of these bad bankers deserve any mercy. The vexing thing is that so many of them escaped with so much to show for their deliberate, well thought-out and extremely effective campaigns of deceit and deception. As for the next crisis : well, read 'Bad Banks', because Brummer has got it all in a nutshell.


Forged in the Furnace of Battle: The War History of 26 Cavalry Chhamb Operations 1971
Forged in the Furnace of Battle: The War History of 26 Cavalry Chhamb Operations 1971
by Major General Syed Ali Hamid
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written and Superbly Produced Book, 20 Sep 2014
Heaven knows why this book is priced the way it is on Amazon. I've never understood why books that you can get for twenty dollars, euros or pounds in a shop are suddenly away up in the hundreds on the Amazon site. But anyway, it is really well worth reading, and here's my review:

This book about Pakistan’s 26 Cavalry Regiment in the 1971 war against India is not only well-written, with a plethora of fascinating detail, it is superbly produced by Sang-e-Meel Publications of Lahore in Pakistan. The (very many) photographs are splendid and the maps and sketches convey information without being fussy or over-detailed. They are all very well presented by the publisher.

The author, retired Major General Syed Ali Hamid, knows what he is writing about, because he was adjutant of 26 Cavalry—The Mustangs—and recorded its daily affairs in the War Diary which he says “should have been followed up with a more comprehensive narrative while events were fresh in the minds of the participants.” But he has now followed up, and done an excellent job of describing the unit’s formation (in 1968), training and eventual committal to battle.

As you read you really get the feel of battle, and, of equal importance, can understand the feelings experienced by those taking part who, as the author so rightly remarks, “sometimes knew little of what was going on elsewhere in the division.” War is like that : soldiers live in a very tight world, and the rest of the battlefield, outside their immediate area, is generally quite unknown. After many battles it is not at all uncommon that when you ask people what went on to their flank their only—quite understandable—answer is “I don’t know.” Of course they don’t, because they were too busy concentrating on dealing with the enemy in their immediate area. But the author puts it all together for us, and his descriptions are vivid and to the point.

If you want to enjoy a good read about a gallant regiment, then get hold of ‘Forged in the Furnace’. — Mind you, when I first heard about 26 Cavalry in Pakistan I was told that they were known as “the Regiment that knows how to party.” Well, they knew how to fight, too.


Nokia Lumia 520, 8 GB, Sim-Free Windows Smartphone - Black
Nokia Lumia 520, 8 GB, Sim-Free Windows Smartphone - Black
Offered by Electronic_ stuff
Price: £99.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Lumia 520 for the Bin, 20 Sep 2014
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What a lousy product. I'm not surprised the price has come down. It's not just me -- an old untechnical relic -- who found this phone to be a disaster: I have just this minute had a fifteen year-old give me a rather more expert opinion.

The battery life is dismal and navigation is extremely tedious. The entire purpose seems to be to get cash from apps and have all your address lists' details spread everywhere. Access to email looks great (and I have to say that the display is excellent: very clear & easily-readable text) -- but you can't get details of previous correspondence.

Transferring data from a former phone by Bluetooth sounded great -- except when it went ahead. Sure, it was a seamless transfer, normal Bluetooth -- but accessing names to determine email addresses and telephone numbers was impossible. I'm not asking for my money back. I'll get another phone and take the greatest pleasure in chucking this one into the rubbish bin.


Command and Control
Command and Control
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Commanding Read. Don't Miss It., 23 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Command and Control (Paperback)
This is one of the most gripping and informative books I have ever read.

It's not just an enthralling history of the development of nuclear weapons, it's a deeply researched and most evocative account of a serious nuclear accident that could well have been an enormous disaster. The scenes evoked are vivid and sometimes frightening. The tales of sheer courage, moral and physical, on the part of those involved in the big picture and in the nuclear accident, which is so well described, are humbling, to put it mildly.

And the tales of those involved in the big picture of nuclear weapons' development who were moral cowards, fools, liars, bigots and pompous humbugs are no less illuminating. What were we all living with, in these awful days? ---- and what might we be living with, right now, in this new age of confrontation?

I served in a nuclear missile regiment in Germany, a long time ago. Little did I know I was living a lie.


A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections
A History of the Pakistan Army: Wars and Insurrections
by Brian Cloughley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £29.44

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There's a much better edition being published by Skyhorse New York at the ..., 19 Aug 2014
I am Brian Cloughley, author of this book.

My advice is : Don't buy it.

There's a much better edition being published by Skyhorse New York at the end of 2014.


From Kutch to Tashkent: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
From Kutch to Tashkent: The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
by Farooq Bajwa
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £22.28

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells it like it was, 9 Nov 2013
This is an outstanding book about an intriguing period in the history of the sub-continent. The 1965 war was a grave mistake, and, unfortunately, few lessons were learned by either Pakistan or India concerning the most suitable way ahead to peace and prosperity. Farooq Bajwa brings considerable research and writing skills to bear on what is a complex story that he tells well. It is an elegantly presented book, and, really, a must-read for anyone who seeks to try to understand the tangle of the sub-continent.


Toshiba Satellite Professional C850 15.6-inch Laptop (Intel Core i3 3120M 2.5GHz Processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVD RW, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Professional)
Toshiba Satellite Professional C850 15.6-inch Laptop (Intel Core i3 3120M 2.5GHz Processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD, DVD RW, LAN, WLAN, BT, Webcam, Integrated Graphics, Windows 7 Professional)

5.0 out of 5 stars It is great value, 5 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have to agree with all the positive reviewers --- this laptop is excellent value for money, and works very well indeed.

I've had Toshibas for a few years now, and have (touch wood) never had a problem. This one is Good. I mean Good. I'm an old codger, self-taught in computer operation, and really welcome systems that even I can understand. This computer was delivered in France on time -- even earlier than advertised, in fact -- and practically came out of its packaging itself. Things got even better from there.

I had thought I had better get the computer whiz in the village to help me, but am happy to report that even I could set the thing up. It couldn't have been more simple. Connecting to the net was the most important thing -- and it took about three minutes via the Livebox. Then the other steps were so easy.

It comes with a disc for Windows 8, but who wants that? It's so clunky. The installed 7 is very good, and the Word version is really excellent, even if the photo part has been left out. Why? It would have been easy to include it.

It is a great machine. A good buy.


TARGET BRITAIN: a political thriller
TARGET BRITAIN: a political thriller
Price: £2.94

5.0 out of 5 stars Knows his stuff, 7 May 2013
Owen B-J knows Pakistan very well indeed, and my only complaint is that he hasn't written a novel before now. Simply: it's well-written, interesting, informative and gripping. A great read.


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