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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essence of Betjeman
This is a terrific selection of Betjeman's radio broadcasts. And it seems to be get to heart of the man's passions, prejudices and, of course, humour. The talk on Tennyson made me laugh out loud. But it's Betj's love of English architecture and way of life that come through so strongly in this collection. Reading the pieces you can almost hear that familiar voice one...
Published on 26 May 2006 by William

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SELLER MARY47102
BOOK ARRIVED PROMPTLY BUT WAS CARELESSLY WRAPPED IN OLD TISSUE PAPER AND A RE-USED PLASTIC ENVELOPE. BOOK WAS DESCRIBED AS NEW, PERFECT CONDITION, UNREAD. NOT SO PERFECT CONDITION.. PRICE STICKER ON THE FRONT COVER HAD BEEN REMOVED BY SELLER, TAKING WITH IT THE SURFACE AREA WHERE STICKER HAD BEEN. BOOK COVER LOOKS SCRUFFY AND NOT AN ITEM I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED IN THAT...
Published 8 months ago by COMPACTG


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58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essence of Betjeman, 26 May 2006
By 
William (Buckinghamshire) - See all my reviews
This is a terrific selection of Betjeman's radio broadcasts. And it seems to be get to heart of the man's passions, prejudices and, of course, humour. The talk on Tennyson made me laugh out loud. But it's Betj's love of English architecture and way of life that come through so strongly in this collection. Reading the pieces you can almost hear that familiar voice one minute quietly serious and passionate, the next gently poking fun. What a remarkable man he was.
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90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new landmark in Betjeman studies, 24 Aug 2006
This is the most enjoyable Betjeman book I've ever read - a book that's so good, it ought to be part of the English Literature curriculum. More than that: it ought to be read by everyone applying for British citizenship! In the course of 360 pages, Betjeman plunges you into what he regarded as the major issues of English identity - issues of aesthetics, civic duty, relations with authority, and individuality.

I suppose that all these ideas are contained in Betjeman's poetry, but there one tends to get distracted into noticing rhythm and metre and scansion. And Betjeman's poetic ideas are smaller. Here, although the writing is often lyrical, he addresses topics in a much more direct way. He cares that unvalued townscapes are being destroyed, that there might be collusion between commercial interests and public officials, that the recent past and the middle brow are ignored by modern taste-makers. Especially in his earlier essays, he writes about these issues with passion and yet with a lightness of touch that engages the reader completely. Read this, and you cannot fail to agree that Betjeman stands as one of the foremost spokesmen of the twentieth century.

"Trains and Buttered Toast" (with its beautful cover design by Duff Tollemache) also shows that Betjeman was fascinated by individuals and individuality. He is correspondingly cruel about English stereotypes - the lumpen proletariat who, in the late 1940s, listened to popular music on car radios or went on holiday in luxury coaches. His point, however, is to criticise people's failure to open their eyes, ask original questions and discover fresh beauties - something he sees as the public's sheep instinct. The antidote, he suggests, is to look for inspiration at people who didn't go where everyone else went and who weren't damaged by commercial pressures and mass production. He finds his role models in Victoriana, an age that he regards as rich in the culture of individuality. Many of his talks explore this in its most extreme manifestation - in eccentricity and in provincialism. In fact, among the most entertaining talks in the entire book are those that look at individuals who dedicated themselves to the church. Never before Betjeman was there a literary category devoted to "West of England Victorian hymn-writing vicars". Now there is!

Spread a little happiness. Buy this book - and buy it for your friends. They'll love you for it: it's a total joy.
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Discovering Englishness, 20 July 2006
This is a most enjoyable read for anyone interested in John Betjman or indeed anyone longing to go back to the times when trains had windows that would open! Stephen Games has skilfully edited talks given out on the BBC during a period of 40+ years. The range of topics, clearly indicating the diversity of the broadcaster, poet and architectual buff (self-taught) range from the wit of Tennyson to the lament of modernism encroaching on metropolitan and rural life, with many interesting talks covered in between. Anyone interest in "how we lived then" should buy this book now.
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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betjeman Revisited, 21 Jun 2006
By 
Book Fan (London, England) - See all my reviews
This is a really warm and fond look at British life, taken from Betjeman's radio broadcasts. My favourite was the Eccentrics section, which made me laugh out loud. It reminded me of Bill Bryson's travel guides: Warm, funny and you always learn something new!
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of Englishness, 26 Jun 2007
This review is from: Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks (Paperback)
This is the most enjoyable Betjeman book I've ever read - a book that's so good, it ought to be part of the English Literature curriculum. More than that: it ought to be read by everyone applying for British citizenship! In the course of 360 pages, Betjeman plunges you into what he regarded as the major issues of English identity - issues of aesthetics, civic duty, relations with authority, and individuality.

I suppose that all these ideas are contained in Betjeman's poetry, but there one tends to get distracted into noticing rhythm and metre and scansion. And Betjeman's poetic ideas are smaller. Here, although the writing is often lyrical, he addresses topics in a much more direct way. He cares that unvalued townscapes are being destroyed, that there might be collusion between commercial interests and public officials, that the recent past and the middle brow are ignored by modern taste-makers. Especially in his earlier essays, he writes about these issues with passion and yet with a lightness of touch that engages the reader completely. Read this, and you cannot fail to agree that Betjeman stands as one of the foremost spokesmen of the twentieth century.

"Trains and Buttered Toast" (with its beautful cover design by Duff Tollemache) also shows that Betjeman was fascinated by individuals and individuality. He is correspondingly cruel about English stereotypes - the lumpen proletariat who, in the late 1940s, listened to popular music on car radios or went on holiday in luxury coaches. His point, however, is to criticise people's failure to open their eyes, ask original questions and discover fresh beauties - something he sees as the public's sheep instinct. The antidote, he suggests, is to look for inspiration at people who didn't go where everyone else went and who weren't damaged by commercial pressures and mass production. He finds his role models in Victoriana, an age that he regards as rich in the culture of individuality. Many of his talks explore this in its most extreme manifestation - in eccentricity and in provincialism. In fact, among the most entertaining talks in the entire book are those that look at individuals who dedicated themselves to the church. Never before Betjeman was there a literary category devoted to "West of England Victorian hymn-writing vicars". Now there is!

Spread a little happiness. Buy this book - and buy it for your friends. They'll love you for it: it's a total joy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wallowing in nostalgia, 19 Dec 2010
By 
Gavin L. Keeble (Sydney) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks (Paperback)
It's a great book. Eccentric and opinionated. Quite amazing that someone 70+ yrs ago thought about England exactly what many people think of it today - over-crowded, poor infrastructure, incongruous architecture, bad planning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joy, 21 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks (Paperback)
It is beautifully written and easy to pick up and put down - you can read as much or as little as you like but you are never disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The joys of a mature and donnish man., 13 May 2013
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Ideal journeying down memory lane for the over 60s and some useful insights for the young. Memory jogging and thought provoking.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trains and Buttered Toast, John Betjeman, 8 May 2013
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This review is from: Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks (Paperback)
Both I and my mother have this book and have loved it... Good for those who wish to remember England as it was...
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars SELLER MARY47102, 19 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks (Paperback)
BOOK ARRIVED PROMPTLY BUT WAS CARELESSLY WRAPPED IN OLD TISSUE PAPER AND A RE-USED PLASTIC ENVELOPE. BOOK WAS DESCRIBED AS NEW, PERFECT CONDITION, UNREAD. NOT SO PERFECT CONDITION.. PRICE STICKER ON THE FRONT COVER HAD BEEN REMOVED BY SELLER, TAKING WITH IT THE SURFACE AREA WHERE STICKER HAD BEEN. BOOK COVER LOOKS SCRUFFY AND NOT AN ITEM I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED IN THAT CONDITION FOR A PRESENT. TOO MUCH TROUBLE TO RETURN - ANOTHER ONE FOR THE CHARITY SHOP.
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Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks
Trains and Buttered Toast: Selected Radio Talks by John Betjeman (Paperback - 14 Jun 2007)
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