Friday, 2 December 2011

Some recent pleasures

A documentary shown on one of our television channels the other evening proved fascinating. It covered a team of archeologists as they searched the remains of Stalag Luft III for the tunnels dug by POWs. Remember The Great Escape? This was where it took place and tunnels Dick and George were what the archeologists were hoping to find. Dick was the tunnel used in the escape and George was dug later but never completed. The team found George and the remains of some of the escape equipment but, sadly, Harry eluded them.

Good old Auntie Beeb comes in for a fair bit of stick but, to give her her due, she does make superb natural history programmes. David Attenborough's Frozen Plant has been running for several weeks - there is just one more episode next week - and has not disappointed. Magnificent scenic photography and wonderful close-ups, the penguin who turned to crime being especially memorable. The series is likely to be sold around the world so do watch it if you get the chance.

I seem to have taken less pleasure of late in my reading. Somehow the majority of the books I have borrowed from the library have not proved un-put-downable and it has been taking me over a week to read just one. Some have stretched out over a fortnight. However, there have been exceptions. Months ago I bought, with vouchers given as birthday presents, secondhand copies of John Master's trilogy, Loss of Eden. This is an epic work which, in my opinion, deserved much greater recognition than it received. It covers the lives of families of different classes caught up in the madness that was the First World War, the action being in both England and France. I have re-read the first of the volumes with much pleasure and am looking forward to enjoying the second and third, perhaps when we are in France ourselves in a couple of week's time.

More recently I have read books by two authors new to me. Andrea Badenoch's Loving Geordie is set in Newcastle in 1960. It describes the demolition of the slums and brings to vivid life some of the occupants of those slums: the Jew who escaped from Vienna, the war widow who turns to drugs and is an inadequate mother to her two sons, one of whom (Geordie) is autistic and loved and cared for by his elder brother.

I have not yet finished The First Casualty by Ben Elton. I had always thought of Elton as a stand-up comedian and had not realised he has written several books. If this one is typical, I shall be looking for more.


Buck said...

Good old Auntie Beeb comes in for a fair bit of stick...

The Beeb is one of the things I miss most about England. I do get BBC America but the programming is but a shadow of what they produce for the home audience. About the only thing that falls in my "never miss" category is Top Gear coz I simply LOVE Clarkson. Hell, I wanna BE Clarkson! (or at least possess a fraction of his wit)

We also get some BBC series on Discovery, NatGeo, and the History Channel, as well.

Stephen Hayes said...

These programs sound interesting. I'll check them out if they make it to Oregon.