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Michael Furey "thefurey" (England)
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The Midnight Court
The Midnight Court
by Brian Merriman
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Irish Romp, 21 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: The Midnight Court (Paperback)
I had to buy this, for my own well-used copy has gone astray on me; probably lent to some friend who felt their need was greater than mine. I've loved The Midnight Court for decades, my only regret is that my Irish is totally inadequate to read it in its original form. This masterly poem is good to read; even better to say out loud. It cries out against the neglect of women's needs in 18th century Ireland and, sometimes, in modern Ireland. It's frank and outspoken about carnal desire, commonly referred to as "all that sex and filth", even today. The repression of the 19th century stifled honest discussion of sexual desire and needs, surely the most basic part of human nature. It's only lately that the people of Ireland have given the finger to the dead hand of clerical censorship, so maybe sex can be as openly talked about as it once was.
The Midnight Court is a rollicking poem, almost as good as a romp in the hay, the bed or anywhere else sex can be enjoyed as it should be.


An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth
by Chris Hadfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars A Guide to Life, 21 Dec. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I suspect that I'm not the only one to have taken a liking to Chris Hadfield after his performance of 'Space Oddity'. Enough to say that this book is about much more than playing and singing in space. It's hard to fit it into any particular category; not an autobiography, though he describes his life before space; not a physics-laden guide to all things involved with space travel and work. Definitely not easy to fit into any category.

Hadfield is entertaining in his views on the space community. And it is a community, brought together and maintained by those involved in all the many disciplines needed to get people out there. He has a light touch, whether writing about his fellow-astronauts, the 'rear echelon' people who get the machinery into space or those who train and sustain them. He writes about the strains on his family, the dangers of becoming obsessive his job, and the ways in which they react to his absence.

All in all, his book is a new look at the whole process of International Space Station Life. The technical aspects are described in enough detail to help us understand them. The impact on all of the people involved are honestly described, without stooping to a scandal-hunting paparazzi view. It certainly helped me to understand the whole aspect of space work on one man. And he stresses that he's not a hero, just another 'guy-next-door' Canadian doing his best to do his job. All through the book, he says that he's doing a job he's been trained for. That's not mock-modesty, Hadfield's whole approach to life, the universe and everything (Sorry; I couldn't help that).

I will read Hadfield's book again and again. I'm as sure of that as I am that it's worth re-reading many times.


Accurist Men's Chronograph Watch MB936BG
Accurist Men's Chronograph Watch MB936BG
Price: £200.00

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as described by Accurist, 19 Dec. 2011
I was pleased to find a watch with a tachometer for such a handy price. However, now that I've used it, I'm surprised and dismayed that Accurist have marketed it in such a manner. Be advised, the outer bezel does not function as a tachometer. Such a function requires a sweep seconds hand that can be stopped and started; in other words, functions as a stopwatch. This model doesn't have such a seconds hand, so calculating speed is not possible.

After trying every which way to work out how to use this function, I contacted Accurist's helpline because the user's manual doesn't say a word about it. After 10 frustrating minutes on the phone, with their rep trying to explain something he didn't know anything about, he offered to send me some info that his buddy had found on a website. While I waited for it to arrive, I checked the website ('my digital life, how to use tachymeter function'). It was plain from this that there's no chance of the watch functioning as a tachometer; the printout merely confirmed this.

So if you want a watch that has a tachometer, this ain't it. I don't know why a company as reputable as Accurist acts in this way. The specification plainly states that the bezel is a tachometer but that's just not true.

I'm returning it for refund. Can I say more than that?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 24, 2011 5:17 PM GMT


Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
by S.C. Gwynne
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kings of the Southwestern Plains, 7 Sept. 2011
This is the most comprehensive history of the Comanche people that I've seen. The author pulls no punches in explaining the source of their rise to be the most powerful tribe in the region. He explains that they were brutal and deadly, only interested in warfare. He dispels the myth of the 'noble savage'; the Comanche weren't noble, merely savage in their treatment of others. They occasionally joined forces with the Kiowa but only to suit their own purposes as the dominant tribe. They had no interest in peace, not even on their own terms, their whole existence was based on domination by warfare. The book explains the origins of the Comanches, their gradual migration to the Southwest and their continual battle for supremacy.

The story of Quanah Parker, half-breed war-chief in the 1870s, has been told before but never as honestly as here. Many books and articles have featured his mother, Cynthia Ann Parker, and her abduction and marriage to Peta Nocona. Rarely have they been in as much depth and honesty as here; too often they've been either brutalised or romanticised until the truth has been hard to find. The author gives footnotes to all of his sources, and they are many.

As a history of the savage centuries when the Comanche ruled the Southwest, this is the best example ever.


The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart
by Glenn Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cunnilinguist tells his life story, 2 May 2011
'Trenchmouth...' opens as he's interviewed as the oldest person, 108, in Virginia. Since he's just sewn up his mouth with heavy-duty fishing line, it sounds difficult. But don't believe it, this old man is tough. To survive from 1903 to 2010, he had to be. Without giving away the plot and ruining your enjoyment, he's a woodsman, killer, cunnilinguist, journalist and musician.

One of the blurbs on the jacket says it a page-turner; that's putting it mildly. When I'd finished it, I felt like starting over again. It's a strange book with a lot of odd humour, sadness and anger; I've already read it twice and I'm about ready to start again. If you have any wish for a run through the history of the (sorry-arsed) state of Virginia in the 20th century, this is a good start. I bought two copies because I know it won't return home if I lend it out. That's probably the best recommendation I can make.


No Title Available

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Handy portable floor lamp, 10 Feb. 2011
I've seen complaints about this lamp's battery life so I wasn't surprised when it drained batteries quite quickly. When the first alkaline batteries ran down, I replaced them with 1300 mAh rechargeables. The difference was amazing; the light output was much brighter, and replacement time was much longer. So I'd advise that only high mAh rechargeable batteries be used from the start. Then you won't be changing them nearly as often and the batteries will soon repay their initial higher cost. Isn't that better than running to the filling station all the time?


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Spot-on laser, 15 Sept. 2010
This is a simple but effective penlight laser, short enough for a shirt pocket. I haven't fully tested its maximum range, but it performed well over 20 metres outdoors at night. (Only assassins need anything more than that, and they won't be buying from Amazon)

I've seen reviews that complain that the switch needs to be held down but I quickly found a simple solution to that. All you need do is slide the pocket clip down so that the tip is over the switch button. This usually allows you to click on the clip to hold the switch down. You might need to bend the centre of the clip upwards slightly to give it more of a spring action but that's only a moment's work. To switch off, simply slide the clip to one side of the body.

The only slight drawback is that a more squared-off section would have made its use easier for my purposes, but that's not reason enough to deny it the fifth star. For such a low price, this is ideal for most uses.


Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
by Ben Gadd
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only book you need, 13 May 2010
Since I've had this book, I've tried to find something in the Canadian Rockies that Ben Gadd doesn't cover. A book of this depth is usually a compilation by authors from different disciplines. But Gadd can just as easily take you in close to a flower as up a rock face or across a glacier. And this isn't a dry-as-dust work; Gadd's sense of humour had me laughing out loud throughout. He even advises you to trim the page corners so the book doesn't become dog-eared from living in your rucksack. Not that it would spend much time buried in a rucksack; it needs to be close to hand so that you can refer to it as often as I intend to do on my next trip. I may leave it in Canada for use by my family. Only may; I haven't read every one of it's 800+ pages.

I wouldn't say it's the only book about the Canadian Rockies that you should buy; there are plenty of other fine books out there. I will say that it's the one book you should definitely buy. And don't lend it out; let them buy their own!


No Title Available

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I have got an Opinel, 29 Mar. 2010
For years, I've been grumbling about not being able to keep an edge on knives that didn't cost a small fortune. Stainless steel looks good, doesn't tarnish, but you'd need to have a sharpening steel in your other hand to keep an edge. I bought the Opinel for a carbon steel blade that sharpens up easily to a good edge. More to the point, it keeps its edge long enough for most of the work I wanted it to do; shaping irregular wedges to secure fence panels. The knife is well balanced, the long handle feels secure in my hand and the simple twist-lock ensures that the blade won't close unexpectedly. The blade has a good thickness that gives stability in use.
I've only one small grumble; the curve of the blade doesn't sharpen up as easily as the straight edge nor hold its edge as long. It's not long at failing the paper-cutting test. This is a common fault with curved blades that only expensive makes seem to have corrected.
For a good, workmanlike tool, the Opinel is first-class. Only the blade curve's reluctance to sharpen stops me giving it 5 stars.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2012 12:06 AM BST


No Ordinary Woman: The Story of Mary Schaffer Warren
No Ordinary Woman: The Story of Mary Schaffer Warren
by Janice Sanford Beck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Ordinary Story, 8 Mar. 2010
I fisrt came across the story of Mary Schaffer Warren in one of Graeme Pole's Altitude Guides to the Canadian Rockies. Gradually, I became more interested in this extraordinary woman until I bought her own book, 'Hunter of Peace'. That's her account of her wild land travels 100 years ago through almost trackless country. It's a great account but leaves out a lot of the background of this remarkable woman.
Janice Sandford Beck has revealed a lot of that background by her trawls through Schaffer Warren's articles, diaries and letters. She reveals a complex woman, rather held back by the strictures of her background, upbriniging and contemporary society. I'd detected a slight touch of condescension in Schaffer Warren's writing about the 'lower orders'; Beck calls it plain snobbery from her past. But this isn't a hatchet job; Beck's admiration for her subject glows throughout the book. She makes the point that Schaffer Warren went to places that women wouldn't normally have visited, and so encouraged them to think beyond their imposed limitations. Schaffer Warren may not have reached the pinnacle of being a feminist heroine but she ought to have been held up as one. And, for the record, I'm male and sometimes inclined to chauvinism. But I'll stand over Schaffer Warren's rightful place in feminist history.
This is definitely the best companion book to 'Hunter of Peace'; it explains a lot that's left unsaid in that wonderful book. If you want to know more about the drive behind Schaffer warren, this will tell you.


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