Daft Yorkshire Customs – Ian McMillan & Tony Husband

This isn’t really a proper book, it’s an entertaining way to spend an odd 5 – 10 minutes when you need a pause between reading or watching something.

I decided to write it up because it was a timely reminder to me to spend some of my reading time more frivolously. A reminder to take time and giggle about silly things.

I like Ian McMillan’s writing. I buy the Yorkshire Post on a Saturday in part so I can read his column, which entertains me and makes me think. I also think he’s a very entertaining speaker; my partner and I once made a last minute decision to take his mother to see Ian and Tony Husband at an event on the outskirts of Barnsley and I can still feel the ache in my ribcage at the end of the evening from laughing so much. I’m also writing this looking at the cartoon of Archie the fruitbat as drawn by Tony on that evening – you had to be there.

As you can tell, I was always predisposed to enjoy dipping into this book and enjoy it I did.

I love the tiny seed of plausibility at the beginning of each of the ideas and watching each blossom into a wealth of preposterous silliness. After reading 2 or 3 of the customs I could happily settle back into one of my more serious books with a lightened heart.

I need to seek out more of Ian’s book and, if I can, find another opportunity to go and see him again.

Another Fine Mess; across Trumpland in a Ford Model T – Tim Moore

Those of you who know me and/or have been reading this blog for a while will know that I love Tim Moore’s books. They make me laugh out loud, scratch my head in bewilderment and educate me. This one is no different and, being in part about a classic car, piqued my interest more than usual.

The book starts out as a way to understand and explore why the population of parts of USA voted for Donald Trump. It becomes more than a derision of the “flyover states” though. Thanks to Mike the Model T people open up and talk to Moore about the terrible state of industry in mid-America. It reminded me of what we saw and heard when we drove round Virginia in summer 2016.

The book also becomes a history lesson on the Model T: how it opened up America for everyday rural populations, how Henry Ford operated and just what it is capable of.

I can’t decide whether Moore was incredibly naive or just plain daft when he started off on his trip. I know our 1922 Calthorpe and I wouldn’t dream of setting off to drive 6000 miles in her! I certainly wouldn’t entertain doing it in a car I didn’t know and with no real experience of driving a car that old. On the other hand it has inspired me to venture out a bit further when the weather improves.

I think Moore’s journey and the help and support he receives from local enthusiasts where ever he goes is a great tribute to the camaraderie of classic car enthusiasts everywhere. And I’m delighted he chose to import Mike to the UK. Hopefully we’ll come across him somewhere and get to see the car.

Overall the book was interesting and I am left saddened by the swathes of mid-Americans who seem like nice people and have been so ignored by the political mainstream that they believe Trump is the answer.

A good read if you interested in USA, politics, travel or classic vehicles.

When’s the next book out?

Click here to find out more about Ford Model T

Click here to find out more about the Model T Register GB

Do the birds still sing? – Horace Greasley

Another 99p offer on Kindle this book is an autobiography of a British POW who met a German girl and kept escaping from his work camp to spend nights with her.

I thought this was an interesting book from the point of view of finding out more about people growing up in the inter-war period and understanding more about what life was like for POWs in the Nazi regime.

My main problem with this book is that Horace Greasley comes across as an arrogant, selfish man, even before he joins the army, which means you don’t warm to him and care about what happens. There’s also an element of “poor me and what me and my mates went through” which, when you consider the atrocities carried out on other Nazi prisoners and POWs, comes across as whingeing. I’m not doubting life was hard and horrible but from a wider historical perspective British POWs came off quite lightly.

I felt sorry for Rosa, the girl Greasley leaves the camp to meet. I think she got the worst of all deals and I wanted her to survive and to have had a good life.

My other gripe about the book is the really crude language used at times. I thought it was unnecessary and crass.

Overall, it felt like a chore to read this book and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Whose Body? and Clouds of Witness – Dorothy L Sayers

Two books that I reread back to back thanks to a 99p each offer on Kindle. It must be 20 years, at least, since I last read a Peter Whimsey book. I vaguely remembered enjoying them and they were an afternoon’s read whilst enjoying the sunshine on holiday.

The first book, Whose Body?, revolves around 2 cases. In the first case a body has been found in the bath of an architect known to the Dowager Duchess of Denver. She asks her son, Lord Peter Whimsey, to investigate and to help Mr Thipps, the architect, and his mother. The second case is the death of an important London financier, being investigated by Detective Inspector Parker, Whimsey’s friend. Whimsey and Parker stitch the two cases together and solve both cases.

In the second book the Duke of Denver, Whimsey’s brother, is accused of murdering their sister’s fiancĂ©e. Again Whimsey and Parker investigate and the crime is solved at the 11th hour.

I enjoyed the fact that my recollection of the books was fairly accurate. As always with these types of crime novels I enjoyed the period detail and setting…

…but I’d forgotten what an annoying character Peter Whimsey is! My tastes have clearly move on because he annoyed the hell out of me.

I think it’s fair to say I won’t but buying any more Dorothy L Sayers books.

Tombland – CJ Sansom

This is the seventh, and latest book in CJ Sansom’s Shardlake series and I have looking forward to it coming out.

If you haven’t read any of the previous novels in the series I suggest starting at the beginning of the series to get a flavour of the period and the characters.

Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer, a man with a disability and he lives in the latter end of Henry VIII’s reign. This novel is set during the reign of his son, Edward VI.

Shardlake is asked by the Lady Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth I, to look into a case where one of her distant Boleyn relatives is accused of murdering his wife. The problem is that the case is in Norwich, in the middle of her half-sister Mary’s land and where there is great civil unrest.

This is a book full of action, full of the details of life in Tudor England and gives a really good picture of the Kett rebellion, a real event. I love novels like this that are based on little known real events and where you can feel an echo of what it might have been like to be in the midst of it.

The story also dovetailed nicely with Alison Weir’s book about Henry VIII’s children, which told a little of the story from the King/Protector’s viewpoint.

Much as I enjoyed the history aspects of the story I think the book could have done with a bit of good editing to weed out some of the detail about the rebellion that didn’t add to the story or move it along.

The other niggle I have about the book is that I never felt that Shardlake, Nick and Jack were in serious jeopardy. I always knew there would be a way out. I think perhaps because there was too much book left when things were critical for the characters for them to meet their end.

Niggles apart, I enjoyed the book enough to buy an electronic version for my Kindle so I could finish the book when I didn’t have enough luggage allowance left to take a large 3/4 read book on holiday!

Click here to find out more about the Kett rebellion

Click here to find out more about CJ Sansom’s books