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Hello Elaine, good to read some balanced criticism of a radio station that I too have enjoyed greatly since it started, albeit more at some times others. Those critical of broadcasting single movements might care to remember that the BBC also used to do this on programmes like "Your 100 Best Tunes" and Richard Baker's music programmes for Radio 4. Outside Radio 3's more populist shows (and I mean "populist" in very relative terms here), the Beeb do not really do that kind of thing any more, perhaps acknowledging that this style of output is now available elsewhere twenty four hours a day. I too enjoy both Classic FM and Radio 3, not because they are the same - although they may be more similar than in R3's age of peak pomposity (to which you allude) - but depending on what I am in the mood for at any given point in time. The Classic FM Hall of Fame is easy to mock. I saw one tweet (no doubt there were many) that used #travesty to describe it, on account of the inclusion of movie scores (didn't Walton write some of them?) and "fake opera singers". The latter is an erroneous criticism of the poll itself, since it places works not performances/recordings, but that is by the by. Given that it seems an impossible task to rate Beethoven and Mozart against one another, let alone against contemporary composers (acclaimed or popular - the two still seldom go together), I think it is better not to take the whole thing too seriously and just enjoy it as a bit of fun, which I did.
According to The Readers podcast, there is a new Wallander book out in the autumn. Mankell is taking a cue from Endeavour and writing about his detective as a younger man.
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2014 on Serial Detectives Redux at Random Jottings
I've been reading Katie Fforde too (an older title in my case): I have enjoyed one Wimsey book, and a couple on Radio 4 Extra, and have also enjoyed Jill Paton Walsh's detective series featuring a college nurse in Cambridge, so I would like to read The Late Scholar, but I feel as though I should read all the original Wimsey books first and that might take some time. Have a good trip to the Metropolis.
Toggle Commented Feb 20, 2014 on Review round up at Random Jottings
I hope you have also put the radio on to keep him entertained. I know you are a big Radio 3 fan, but I suspect he may prefer the Gnome Service! Yesterday I was in one of my 'maybe the internet wasn't such a great idea after all' sort of moods, having made the mistake of scrolling through the comments on the a national newspaper webpage - never a good idea, but I thought I was on safe ground with a piece about archaeology. Thanks for reaffirming my belief in the positive side of online communication, with this charming, light-hearted post.
Toggle Commented Apr 21, 2012 on Weekend Ramblings with a Gnome at Random Jottings
Thank you for highlighting this article. I think it is important to judge people on the facts and not be swayed by hysterical newspapers or assumptions based on class-prejudice. To be too willing too assume that a peer of the realm would bribe his way to safety is no better than assuming that passengers in steerage would take the opportunity for a bit of looting.
Today I'm enjoying sunshine rather than ice in north west England. In contrast to last year, the word is that the record temperature for Christmas Day in Britain, set in Leith near Edinburgh in the late nineteenth century, could be broken this year. The previous record was something like 14 degrees celsius. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
Toggle Commented Dec 22, 2011 on Midwinter gallimaufry at a gallimaufry
I second everything you say about Susan Hill. Mozart was also prolific, yet he is, rightly, hailed as a genius.
Toggle Commented Oct 27, 2011 on More 'teckery at Random Jottings
Tomalin is on my birthday wish list. Today I've started the latest in the Simon Serrailler series, to which you also refer. It is as you say "brilliant". Even though it tackles some big and difficult issues, I find that I am racing through it with ease, unlike my previous read which was a hard slog. As I say in my Librarything 'review' of that previous book ( "I often struggle to pinpoint exactly what it is about a book that is problematic for me." So it is a joy to get back to a book where that dilemma does not arise. I don't know what to recommend for your next read. I hope you find something suitable. Susan Hill is a tough act to follow, so perhaps a bit of non-fiction is called for? I notice you have Lyn's 'I Prefer Reading' blog on your 'Places to Visit' list, her recent post on the Trollope autobiography ( may have you getting that one off the shelf again.
Toggle Commented Oct 20, 2011 on Thursday Ramblings at Random Jottings
I voted for "A Tale of Two Cities". My other favourites are either doing very well (Bleak House and David Copperfield), or struggling for support (Nicholas Nickleby). I wasn't surprised to find that one of my least favourites, Great Expectations, is currently leading the poll. Yes, it is highly original, but just too cruel for my tastes. I prefer the historical realism and noble motives ("It is a far, far better thing, etc...) of Two Cities, the clever early crime-fiction of Bleak House, and the triumph over adversity of Nickleby and Copperfield; even if I find the latter's first wife Dora almost as unsympathetic as the very different, utterly cold Estella. The latest Dickens-themed edition of the Guardian Books Podcast is well worth a listen too. It includes an interview with Claire Tomalin, whose Dickens biography is about to be released. I was pleased to hear that she has chosen to open her book with a dramatic incident from her subject's life, since she acknowledges that many readers can find it rather tedious wading through the ancestry and birth opening dictated by the traditional biography form. It seems especially appropriate to employ a more creative structure when writing about someone as inventive as Dickens.
Toggle Commented Sep 25, 2011 on All Things Dickens at Random Jottings
It's interesting how opinions differ about McCall Smith's various series. The same people who rave about one series are very often lukewarm or even hostile to one of the others. I've never read anything of his that I would describe myself as being hostile towards, although there was a book of short stories based around 'heavenly dates' that came close. Personally, I love Scotland Street and Dalhousie in equal measure. With regard to thrillers, if you like the idea of historically-informed novels with lots of twists and turns, and you have not yet read any Robert Goddard, then you might like to add him to your list of possibilities. I recently finished his 2010 release, "Long Time Coming" which combines Anglo-Irish relations, the Second World War, espionage and art fraud. There's even a bit of cricket, which I know you rather like. By comparison, I was less enthused by his 2011 book "Blood Count" in which a surgeon who carried out a life-saving operation on a Balkan war criminal finds his past coming back to haunt him. Enjoy your Suffolk-sojourn.
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2011 on Thriller binge at Random Jottings
I picked up "Snowdrops" from the library last week, so that's at least one on the list I will have read. I didn't get along brilliantly with the only D. J. Taylor novel I have read to date, but your enthuasiasm for his work has registered at the back of my mind and now been brought to front courtesy of the Booker Prize panel.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2011 on Booker's dozen at Cornflower Books
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By way of thanks for this lovely blog post, here is a link to where you can download any episode in the current series of Ramblings that takes your fancy:
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I am a historian by education. I much prefer exploring the past than trying to predict the future. Having said that, I'm interested by the many varying predictions concerning the future of the book. I was struck by your prediction that print on demand has a big future, because personally I think that is the least likely to thrive. I would have thought the market will divide between electronic texts (of various kinds) for speed and diversity, and well-produced books as gifts, luxury items and room-furnishings - the latter being something that you also seem to predict. That said, historians are generally no better at predicting the future than anybody else, and probably worse in many cases! I shall be adding your blog to my feed reader.
With regards to the adverts question, a few years back ads for the Abbey (former building society) might have been appropriate. Santander would not work in quite the same way! I fully understand the news avoidance thing. I seem to be remarkably well informed for someone who seldom catches more than a three minute radio news bulletin these days, but then news - or what passes for it - is now so ubiquitous that it is difficult to avoid altogether. BBC Radio's 'From Our Own Correspondent' is a great way of keeping up to date with the wider world. It digs beneath the headlines and it is also beautifully written, which is something of a rare treat in our visually obsessed world. Less I come across as fogeyish at the age of 37, I should also add that is available as a podcast to listen to where and when you want.
Toggle Commented May 2, 2011 on Odd ramble at Random Jottings
Falling Angels, to confirm the title, was the one that sprung to my mind too. I enjoyed Quinn's first novel, set against the Second World War, so his latest is definitely another one for the 'would like to read' list.
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I didn't see all these programmes, but I did enjoy "If Walls Could Talk". I also enjoyed Margaret's duster comment. Personally, I don't think it would be much of a tragedy for any of those rather sickly Victorian ornaments to get damaged. I may be keen on nineteenth century history but less so on their domestic figurines. How refreshing that the custodian of the house felt able to admit he didn't like the room very much either.
Toggle Commented Apr 15, 2011 on An Evening at Home at Random Jottings
I read "The Devil's Star" first because it was the first to be translated into English and I mistakenly assumed that meant it was the first in the series. This is a little irritating, because I much prefer to read series in order but c'est la vie. I had previously been put off Nesbo because of the comparisons with Larsson. I've not actually read any of the latter, but I have read sufficient assessments by people I trust to conclude that they are not for me. I understand why the book trade uses simple comparisons between authors. Such comparisons can backfire but I suspect they more often disappoint the reader rather than bookseller. As for an author who finds himself compared to a million seller, I suspect he would be unlikely to complain, whatever he might think of the author with which he is associated. "The Devil's Star" certainly caught and held my attention. It was at times a little too gruesome and candid for my taste, and I don't think I warmed to Harry quite as much as you did. My impression was that I had seen all this before: a maverick cop with a drink problem and an inability to sustain relationships, without some of the added depth you get from Rankin/Rebus or Mankell/Wallander. I don't want to sound completely negative; I was given four of the books, and will almost certainly reader another. I'm just not so bowled over as to be in a great hurry to do so. Ironically perhaps, having complained about the violence in Nesbo, I am now enjoying the first of Bernard Cornwell's Anglo-Saxon series, which has so far featured numerous beheadings and someone having his eye taken out!
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2011 on Jo Nesbo at Random Jottings
David Ashton has also adapted these stories for radio, or perhaps the radio plays came first? I'm not sure. Ashton even features in the plays himself in the part of McLevy's superior officer Lieutenant Roach. I have certainly enjoyed the radio version starring Brian Cox. Series 7 was on Radio 4 recently, with previous series getting fairly frequent re-runs on what is now Radio 4 Extra (formerly Radio 7). I've only listened to half of the latest series so far. I like to keep the recordings saved up as a treat. I would definitely recommend the series to anyone with an interest in detective fiction and the nineteenth century.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2011 on A Trick of the Light at Cornflower Books
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David73277 is now following The History of England
Mar 20, 2011
I'm getting a bit behind with this series, but enjoying it still. I'm here at part 7. I was interested by your comments regarding the usefulness of well-researched historical novels. Generally I prefer historical novels in which real historical characters are in the background, such as Sansom's Shardlake series, to those in which real people from the past take centre stage. Having said that, Bernard Cornwell is very good at what he does, and the less known information there is about a figure from history the greater the need to employ the historical imagination. Where evidence is in short supply even the most cautious academics, some of whom may be critical of their novelist counterparts, are forced to fall back on informed speculation. I will keep an eye out for Cornwell's Saxon series. On the subject of research, would it be possible to add a list of your key sources to the site? It is always useful to know where writers get their facts from and what might have influenced their opinions.
What a font of all knowledge you are. Sorry, I can never resist a pun! Garfield is quite a diverse writer. I liked his book about the tragic death of William Huskisson MP on the opening day of the Liverpool-Manchester Railway. He has also written about the Mass Observation project and a history of Radio 1. It would be difficult to guess what he will write next. I suppose one of the potential benefits of ebooks is that readers might get to choose which font to read a book in? On this issue of serif or sans serif, I was told that a serif font is better for training manuals because it is an easier font to read and can help the reader to better absorb the content.
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Thanks for reminding me about the Leeds Library. I've never been in, but I do remember passing it when I was a student in the city. Fortunately I found the excellent university library, the Brotherton, provided me with the books I needed and a great place to study. Nevertheless, its interesting to note that the subscription fee is significantly lower than that for the capital's most famous subscription library. By capital I mean London. I would be wary of starting a debate about which city is the capital of Yorkshire!
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2010 on Raiding the libraries of Yorkshire at Juxtabook
Fascinating. Aside from the main point of this tale, I feel slightly uneasy about a violin being worth $3.5 million. At least it is being used for the purpose for which it was intended. I would be even more uneasy about a violin sitting unused in a bank vault because it is valued so highly. Perhaps another interesting experiment would be for Mr Bell to perform the same piece on several different instruments and discover if an audience that was not aware of the change responded differently to the music as a result?
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2010 on Perception: A True Story at Harriet Devine's Blog
David73277 is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 12, 2010