As mentioned in my previous post, I am doing a round up of books I have had on the go for the past few months. Sometimes I find that I dip in and out of books and then get a bit lackadaisical and get distracted and do other things, so in the last couple of weeks I have sat down and finished books I have had scattered around the flat and am now embarking on a Round Up of same.
First up, The Country Diaries, a Year in the British Countryside edited by Alan Taylor. I make no apologies for 'dipping' in and out of this book because, as the title suggests, this is in diary form throughout a calendar year and I suppose I ought to keep it by my bedside and read each month as it happens. A quick glance at January reveals quotes from Virginia Woolf, John Fowles, James Lee-Milne and Francis Kilvert. One of the best quotes though is from our Natyonal Treasure, Alan Bennett:
"Ring Mr Redhead, the coal merchant in Ingleton. 'Hello Mr Redhead, this is Alan Bennett, I'm wanting some coal' 'Goodness me, I am consorting with higher beings!'
Last time I rang Mr Redhead he said 'Well, I don't care how celebrated you are, you'll never be a patch on your dad'
This book is really quite delicious, beautifully produced and each month has a wood cut illustration which I love. I was going to pass this onto a friend, but in fact I have decided that it will stay on my bedside table to be read throughout the year. There are too many gems in here to take in all at once.
Second on the table, Seeing Things by Oliver Postgate
Though he is mainly known for this creation as well as Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog and The Clangers, it is his early life that is so fascinating. Born to North London parents, both committed socialists, Oliver came into contact with people who were involved in the forming of the early Labour movement, his maternal grandfather, George Lansbury, being one time leader of the Labour Party. When war broke out Oliver was a conscientious objector and later post-war, travelled to Germany as a driver for a relief team.
A thoughtful and gentle man with strong principles, Oliver died in December 2008. Please check out this link to the BBC obituary for this lovely kind man, and see the short video on his creations. Compared to today's sophisticated and computer generated programmes, they may appear rather crude and amateur, but they have charm and warmth and I found a tear welling up when I looked at this. It brought back so many happy memories, and those mice - they are still there!
"Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss, old fat furry cat-puss,
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring,
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light,
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing..."
And blessings upon the joys of the internet as I have discovered the full opening of Bagpuss here on You tube - do watch and reach for the tissues. Sheer magic.
Both these lovely books were sent to me by Canongate who have a marvelously eclectic mix of titles as you can see if you check out their website here. About 18 months ago they sent me a copy of Jane Austen: how she conquered the world, which was another gem and then just before Christmas last year, a thud on my doormat brought me Simon's Cat - reviewed here. Anybody who has seen these brilliant and funny cartoons on You Tube (yes them again) will need no introduction to this feline who obviously rules Simon with a paw of iron.
Read and laughed and loved, but I am sure Canongate will not mind that I passed this book onto a friend of mine. He has a cat and his name is Simon......(and you can check him out at Stuck in a Book for yes, it is he).