Archive | Books Club & Literary Work

God’s Own County Book Club selections, anecdotes, comment and literary works

The Shepherd Lord Fact or Fiction

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A Bank holiday read or a book for Fathers Day, this Faction is an interesting cross between fact and fiction. The historical embellishments are entertaining.

Product Description from Amazon
‘Young Henry Clifford, heir to vast estates in the North of England, is spirited away after the Battle of Towton for fear that the Yorkists will take his life in reprisal against his father’s actions. He is brought up as a simple shepherd boy so that his noble background does not betray his true identity. Narrated by the shepherd that raised him until it was safe to reveal his true identity and reclaim his birthright, this is a riveting tale contrasting a life on the run against an idyllic pastoral backdrop. It is a tale of identity, roots and nurture one of an unbreakable and everlasting bond that develops between two people from very different backgrounds. A true story, that has been all but ignored for centuries and is now bursting to be told.’

From the Publisher
The Shepherd Lord is a fascinating, but largely forgotten episode from medieval English history, rummaged from the shadows of two dusty poems and brought back to life. Set in the 15th century, against the backdrop of the Wars of the Roses, it is the story of Henry Clifford, the aristocrat who was raised as a shepherd.

This is a work of fiction but set on a firm basis of well-researched historical fact. The important issue in this type of novel is how well the author has rendered the tale as a dramatic adventure. The answer, in this case, is very well indeed. It’s an involving and deeply human story of danger, companionship, high emotions and all the other elements required of a gripping tale.

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More Books than Bookings for Mike Pannett

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He may have been a great copper for 20 years until he took up writing, about the police, about his life and crimes in the Yorkshire Countryside. However his books are coming to book shops thick and fast and he is likely to publish more titles than criminals he booked.

I have just taken ‘Just The Job, Lad’ from our local library and notice that ‘Up Beat and Down Dale: Life and Crimes in the Yorkshire Countryside’ by Mike Pannett will be out in Paperback on 19 Jul 2012. At least he is getting away from being a ‘Lad’ with this new title.
This new book features a night-time operation in an empty museum and the harrowing business of taking three children into care against their mother’s wishes. I am sure Mike’s loyal fans can hardly wait.
Previous titles by Mike Pannett include ‘Now Then, Lad,’ ‘You’re Coming With Me, Lad,”Not On My Patch, Lad’ and ‘Just the Job, Lad.’

Quotable Quotes from ‘Just The Job, Lad’

….three young looking lads who seemed to be wearing identical light-coloured wooly hats. ‘They look well dodgy. Lets get after ’em!’
Sommat I picked up in the Met.
They’re getting a tune out of that old banger (when chasing a stolen car)
Lissen you numpty, long-haired, idle, cack-handed pillock.

Not the Only Bobby on the Beat

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What’s Tha Up To?: Memories of a Yorkshire Bobby by Martyn Johnson

Also by the same retired copper, Martyn Johnson, are similarly entitled volumes:
What’s Tha Up To? Memories of a Sheffield Bobby
What’s Tha Up To? Memories of an Attercliff Bobby
It is great that Yorkshire has produced two literary bobbies come authors who have opted for such variety in their choice of book titles.

Fictional Heartbeat at least manages a weak pun but then tends to wear out its story lines. Still you can join our pressure group to ‘Bring Back Heartbeat’. We want to know what has happened to David, Ginna, Bernie and even Oscar.

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What is it about Scarborough and Fiction

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The Last Train to Scarborough is a Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel by Andrew Martin.

Hot on the heels of our review of the murders in Scarborough in ‘The Other Child’ by Charlotte Link is another book in Andrew Martin’s railway detective excursion into the Edwardian past. The Last Train to Scarborough has his ex-railway-worker-turned-detective Jim Stringer tackling an uncomfortable assignment from lodgings in a wet and gloomy off-season Scarborough.

Andrew Martin’s following is growing as his obvious love of the period and trains becomes clear to his loyal and new readers alike. Not everyone’s cup of tea you either fall for the books or not but give one a chance as they are worth reading on a long holiday train journey. Martin’s ability to summon up the Edwardian era provides an interesting atmosphere ‘as if you have gone back in a time machine and you are actually there’.

Some of the other titles in this 8 book series include The Blackpool Highflyer, The Necropolis Railway, Murder at Deviation Junction and The Baghdad Railway Club which is the latest Jim Stringer Steam Detective novel due to be published this week (June 2012)

The Bristolian near Woodley
Credit The Bristolian near Woodley by NH53 CC BY 2.0

Also on the Scarborough theme we shouldn’t forget Scarborough born lass Susan Hill CBE who has been riding high in the best seller lists with The Woman in Black.
Scarborough Fair by Chris Scott Wilson is a fictionalised version of the Battle of Flamborough Head explored from the American and British perspective. (not quite what I had in mind.)

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In the Shoes of J B Priestley

Bradford has a tradition when it comes to the shoe trade based around Stylo which was founded in 1935.
The Stylo business grew in the 1960’s by buying Barratts and in the 1990’s when they bought Priceless. Unfortunately that record is badly tarnished by receiverships, administrations, redundancies and liquidations. Barratts shoes, Priceless, Stylo, Shutopia and Dolcis have been ‘rationalised out of existence’.
Three times the same executive management of Michael Ziff and family have tried the shoe trade on for size. Let us hope that they are more successful this time around having just bought the latest, much reduced, business from the liquidators.

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With this as a background I found it interesting to see Bradfordian J B Priestley was being used in the Bata-ville shoe context by the folk at No Way To Make A Living. In ‘Bata in Essex and the Decline of the Third England’ they record

‘When J. B. Priestley wrote Eng­lish Jour­ney he was exer­cised by some trouble­some 1930s women: lip­sticked, dressed up to the nines to ape Hol­ly­wood glam­our on light industry wages. These were the women of the third England.

“the Eng­land of arter­ial and by-pass roads, of filling sta­tions and factor­ies that look like exhib­i­tion build­ings, of giant cinemas and dance-halls and cafes, bun­ga­lows with tiny gar­ages, cock­tail bars, Wool­worths, motor-coaches, wire­less, hik­ing, fact­ory girls look­ing like act­resses, grey­hound racing and dirt tracks, swim­ming pools, and everything given away for cigar­ette coupons.”

Priestley, J. B. (1984[1934]) Eng­lish Jour­ney, Pen­guin Books.’

These fact­ory girls were an object of con­cern and scru­tiny, troub­ling the estab­lished cat­egor­ies of class with their out­spoken, per­formed fem­in­in­ity. A new, light, indus­trial labour force destabil­ised the estab­lished under­stand­ings of gender and class. The Bata fact­ory in East Tilbury was staffed, in part, by this kind of woman: mak­ing shoes in order to pay for new shoes and hand­bags and lip­sticks. And to keep their fam­il­ies: women’s work is not all about pin money and frivolity, J. B.’
Read the full ‘Bata in Essex and the Decline of the Third England’

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J B Priestley and English Journey from Amazon

What Would J B Priestley Make of This

  • Stylo Shoes is now a sound business based in Pakistan becoming the largest selling ladies’ shoes brand in Pakistan and the largest ladies shoes retail network in the country with 57 outlets in 30 cities.
  • Bradford’s Shoe business could be three time losers with the Ziff family.
  • The ‘English Journey’ is being used in academic texts about the decline of the third England.
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Images of Yorkshire Moors & Wolds

Moor & heath

Yorkshire is blessed with dramatic and unrivaled scenery. From the East coast through Moors, Dales and Wolds there are umpteen images to catch the imagination.
You can access these images via short or long distance walks, from car windows, glossy books, old postcards or surfing the internet as you are currently doing.

On to Ilkley Moor

Roman road roam’n’ all over the place?
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‘The Yorkshire Moors and Wolds’ Book by Mark Denton

A collection of wonderful panoramic Yorkshire images of Moors and Wolds. These are two very different landscapes separated by the Vale of Pickering and encompassing forests, remote farmlands, dramatic rocky landscapes and gently rolling hills.

The Beauty of Trees. Thixendale,Yorkshire Wolds. UK.

Credits

The Beauty of Trees. Thixendale,Yorkshire Wolds. UK. by Philip Ed CC BY-NC 2.0

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Maeve Binchy 1940- 2012

Maeve Binchy the best-selling Irish author has died aged 72 after a short illness.
Ian Rankin has tweeted “Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment.” She was a great story teller who knew where she stood in the pantheon of Dublin writers.
“I was very pleased, obviously, to have outsold great writers. But I’m not insane – I do realise that I am a popular writer who people buy to take on vacation.” Maeve Binchy

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Maeve published 16 novels  Minding Frankie – was published in 2010.
Minding Frankie is about a motherless female child and a story about unconventional Dublin families and relationships which aren’t quite what they seem. Baby Frankie is born into an unusual family. Her mother is desperate to find someone to take care of her child and she doesn’t have much time. Noel doesn’t seem to be the most promising of fathers but despite everything, he could well be Frankie’s best hope.

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Other Key Maeve Binchy Works include
Light a Penny Candle, The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road, Heart and Soul and Circle of Friends.
Firefly Summer is warm, humorous, sad and happy.
Victoria Line, Central Line is a nice collection of short stories.
Many of Maeve’s books were translated into 37 languages and all told she sold more than 40 million copies worldwide

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Gore Vidal – Homosexuality & Transexuality

During the late 1940’s and early 50’s Gore Vidal was producing challenging books. This included Myra Breckinridge (sunsequently made into a film) and The City And The Pillar with a hint of autobiographical politics and homosexuality.
Gore Vidal died on 1st August 2012 age 86 with 24 books and numerous screen plays to his name.

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The City And The Pillar
‘Jim Willard, former high-school athlete and clean-cut boy-next-door-, is haunted by the memory of a romanctic adolescent encounter with his friend Bob Ford. As Jim pursues his first love, in awe of the very same masculinity he possesses himself, his progress through the secret gay world of 1940’s America unveils surreptitious Hollywood affairs, the hidden life of the military in the Second World War and the underworld bar culture of New York City.’ Amazon says Gore Vidals book based on homosexuality ‘remains not only an authentic and profoundly important social document but also a serious exploration of the nature of idealistic love.’
The publication of The City and the Pillar in 1948 shocked the American public but did not damage his personal appeal as he remained a controversial but well connected figure in US political and social life.

Myra Breckinridge
Gore Vidal novel of the same name, in which a gay man, Myron Breckinridge undergoes a sex-change operation before setting of – as Myra Breckinridge – on a mission to Hollywood to “destroy the American male in all its particulars”. A successful book that was made into a film starring Raquel Welsh, Mae West and John Huston.

‘It is a risky (and risque) business becoming ‘Woman Triumphant’ – exercising total power over men like Rusty Godowski. Rusty just wants to be a Hollywood star like everyone else at Buck Loner’s academy, but now that Buck’s niece, Myra Breckinridge, has arrived, the curriculum is taking a wildly strange turn. Willing to risk all to be superb and unique, Myra means to prove to her old friend Dr Montag that it is possible to work out in life all one’s fantasies – and survive.
‘From Myra’s fist appearance on the page she was a megastar’, explains her creator, Gore Vidal. Myra caused a second furore when she returned in Myron to battle it out with her eponymous alter ego, a drab little man fallen into marriage and a job in Chinese catering. Theirs is a contest of hormonal roulette, with glorious Myra off on time-travelling missions of mercy back to 1948 to try to change cinema history and to introduce her own radical theories of popuation control. Meanwhile Myron tries desperately to stay in the present as inconspicuously as Mrya will allow.’

Gore Vidal Selected Quotes

There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts.
It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.
The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country — and we haven’t seen them since.
Andy Warhol is the only genius I’ve ever known with an I.Q. of 60.
‘George W Bush was the stupidest man in the USA’ and Gore Vidal couldn’t be a conspiracy theorist as ‘the administration were not clever enough to pull it off.’

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Nostalgia is Bigger Than It Used To Be

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Nostalgia is big business and isn’t going to disappear anytime soon. Alan Titchmarsh has latched on to the trend with his BBC book ‘When I was a Nipper’ available from amazon as paperback or hardback.

Why Nostalgia is Getting Bigger

  • The baby boomers are enjoying life and there are a lot of them around.
  • Old music acts from the 60’s and 70’s are touring and performing in ever growing numbers. I saw one of the Dubliners on a zimmer frame at St Georges Hall Bradford last year!
  • Discretionary spending on nostalgia increases year on year. Collecting memorabilia, old pottery, and modern antiques has been promoted by lifestyle programmes on TV.
  • Family tree compilation and ancestor research has joined the list of popular hobbies.
  • Themed holidays and a greater number of museums and local attractions based on nostalgia proliferate.
  • There is a demand for nostalgia because times were good. The supply of nostalgia based products, services and media is aimed at satisfying the demand.

Yorkshire Nostalgia

    • The Railway Children is running again in a live performance at Waterloo Station

  • Heartbeat of Aidensfield fame may have ceased production but it is still running on digital TV channels and dvds. How long before we are nostalgic for analogue TV?
  • Another show that runs and runs is the Last of the Summer Wine. I can even get nostalgic for the reruns!
  • If you want to keep up with nostalgia you can do a lot worse than read The Dalesman
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Yorkshire’s Fictional Anthropologist

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I have just read ‘The Calling of the Grave’ by Yorkshire author Simon Beckett. It features Dr David Hunter a forensic expert to equal Kay Scarpetta or Kathy Reichs’ Tempe Brennan.
Not up to the standard of Pat Baker’s W.H.R. Rivers, a real anthropologist, as his fictionalized self in Regeneration. Rivers treats shell-shocked soldiers so that can be sent back to the front in the brutal First World War.
Karen Rose’s forensic pathologist Lucy Trask is bit off this track so give this Yorkshire lad’s hero a chance.

Simon Beckett grew up and still lives in Sheffield. ‘I had a fairly ordinary working class background, at a time when the city was still dominated by the steel industry. I’ve lived in other places but always gravitated back here. It tends to get a lot of bad press, but it’s a good place to live, and a lot greener than most people give it credit for – I mean that in the sense of trees and countryside rather than the ecological sense. I don’t set my novels here, because I think it’s difficult to be objective about somewhere you know well. But other writers have no problem with that, so it’s just a case of different strokes, I suppose.’ www.simonbeckett.com

His other books: ‘Where there is smoke’ Written in Bone, Whispers of the Dead and The Chemistry Of Death are now on my list of books to read.

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Quick Guide to Slow North Yorkshire

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Slow North Yorkshire: Moors, Dales & Coast, including York – Local, characterful guides to Britain’s special places from Mike Bradshaw

According to the description of this book it ‘explores the nooks and crannies of this dramatic and diverse county and takes in all the well known sights as well as regional secrets, including fossil hunting, wild food foraging and the game of quoits.
Mike Bagshaw’s unique guide to the area brings to life the landscapes and wildlife of the region and indulges his interests in crafts, architecture, local history, folklore and pubs.’

I do not think Slow North Yorkshire refers to the speed of thought of any of the residents nor their measured speech and manners. It is more an invocation to take your time traveling through or just talking to the characters in the pubs and cafes.

It may try to cram in too much with chapters on Three Peaks area, Swaledale, Wensleydale, Craven & Wharfedale, Nidderdale & Harrogate, Clevedon & Hambledon, York, Eskdale & Cleveland to say nothing of Howardian Hills and Eastern Moors Forests and Beaches. On second thoughts it can’t do justice to all these places but just offers a smorgasbord of morsels or quick reminder of places and things to try.

You will want to stay several nights to cover even a small section of the area so the accommodation from Alastair Sawday ensures a comfortable stay, helping to get the most out of a ‘slow’ visit to one of Britain’s most beautiful areas.

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