Monday, October 27, 2014


Part the third of these diaries, the standard remains high and interesting.

The best part about reading reasonably contemporary diaries is you are reminded of recent history, tragedies, deaths and uplifting moments that take you back in time.

As with the previous two editions, Mr Palin has had remarkable success and I suppose the monetary success to go with it but he deserves it because he works so hard- he is always working, planning, looking ahead.  His work ethic is inspirational.

Love diaries ,love Palin and I assume we will get another two editions which will be great.

SO,ANYWAY - John Cleese

This is fantastic, rolls along, candid, humorous and informative.

This autobiography starts at the beginning, his relationship with his parents through to 2014.  What its doesn't do is have much on the Pythons, this is about Cleese and what a full life he has had.

Reading this taught me that he was very, very successful prior to Python; he and colleagues were just churning out the comedy for UK TV, The output was prodigious and to maintain the quality, remarkable.  The negative was in 1967 he earn't 1400 pounds and paid a staggering 83% income tax!

Recommended if a fan or a fan of the UK entertainment scene or just like a read that will make you smile a lot.

SSGB- Len Deighton

Its 1941 and Britain has surrendered, Churchill has been executed and a puppet government is in place. London and most of Britain is under Nazi rule apart from small pockets of resistance.

A routine murder attended by the Scotland Yard Murder Squad ends up as anything but routine when high ranking Nazi's arrive from Berlin to oversea the investigation headed by Detective Archer.

This alternative history type story is the first I can remember although Robert Harris and others have used the method recently.  This is a very good spy story, Deighton is historically accurate and anything he writes is always very readable.  I first read this 30 odd years ago and it was just as enjoyable this time around.

A MAN CALLED INTREPID - William Stevenson

This is the supposed story of William Stephenson,a Canadian who headed up the intelligence sector that liaised between Britain and the United Stated prior to and in the early years of the Second World War.

Although Stephenson is nothing but an out and out hero, this book is more about how President Roosevelt assisted Britain in the early war years with the risks he took, with disregard regard for his own political future; without these risks Britain would more than likely have been over run by 1941. He has to fight off appeasers , Joe Kennedy, and outright Nazi sympathisers,Charles Lindberg.

The work that was done in secret enabled supply lines to be maintained and to keep Britain in the war.

The majority of those used as agents by the intelligence services were amateurs who sacrificed everything and suffered horrid deaths just for their beliefs.  Stephenson, Churchill and Roosevelt knew they were sending these men and women to their deaths but the greater good was the plan and the agents themselves realised this.

This is a great read and another reminder why revisionist history should not be countenanced at all. The Nazis were pure evil and the world must never be allowed to forget this.


Cordelia Gray inherits a detective agency after the owner after he has a bad day.

Her first case is to investigate the suicide of a young student.  This investigation becomes more dangerous as she keeps uncovering information.

Apart from the beginning of the story as to how Ms Gray is hired, which is a bit contrived, this is a great little mystery full of suitably unlikeable people and rolls along nicely.

Baroness James is a superstar and you can never be disappointed by anything she writes. She is a lady who has not wasted one moment of her time on the planet and continues to contribute.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Paul Pennyfather has a rather bad run of luck, gets sent down from Oxford and ends up teaching at a 5th level public school.  From here disaster follows disaster.

This is very very funny along with Waugh's ability to be absolutely caustic sticking it to the British upper class at the same time.

This is Waugh's first novel, published in 1928 and for a first effort it is remarkable.

Waugh didn't write a bad word as far as I'm concerned, he is accessible to any level of reader and I just love his stuff.


This is Wodehouse so its brilliant, the use of language is superb.  This is Wodehouse so its brilliant.

DOCTOR AT SEA - Richard Gordon

The second installment in the "Doctor"series.  Our hero signs on as ships surgeon in the merchant marine and travels to South America on a tramp steamer.

I enjoyed this more than the first book. This was interesting in how a tramp steamer functioned in pre-containerization days.  The characters that make up a crew are equally fascinating.

Again no belly laughs but very amusing and interesting.

A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE - Richard Gordon

The novel which resulted in films and TV series. The story of a young doctor training in a London teaching hospital.

This is an amusing read, no belly laughs but light hearted and entertaining with enough serious information regarding medical practices in the 1940's to make it interesting. Its nothing like the British TV series that was very good but bears no resemblance to the novel.

The author, real name Gordon Ostlere is still alive and kicking aged 93.  This is the first of a series that continued until the late 1980's.