Posted by: billpurdue | June 4, 2008

10 – Julie Walters, Mary Whitehouse, Ptolemy Dean and more.

It’s bit of a mixed bag this time, so let’s start with something I’m sure many people watched on the telly last week – “Filth”, the play on BBC1 about the life of Mary Whitehouse. It starred Julie Walters as Mary and a very good performance she gave too. Well, as far as I’m concerned Julie Walters can hardly do any wrong, but when it comes to novel writing, perhaps the rule does not apply. Not too long ago Julie tried her hand at writing and Maggie’s Tree (1) was the result. I haven’t read it, but a friend of mine has and he didn’t think too much of it (though he told me he did read it to the end) When I say that it is written as a series of flashbacks and nightmares, I hardly need say more. So, Julie, please stick to the day job, which you do very well indeed – what do you want to start writing novels for anyway?


And while on the subject of Julie Walters, there’s already a biography of her which I think is now out of print: Julie Walters: Seriously Funny (2). However, Julie has written her autobiography which is due out in October: it’s just called The Autobiography (3) which is just what her fans are looking for I should think. Fans may also like to know that there’s a good article about her including a filmography on Wikipedia. As for Mary Whitehouse, she wrote her autobiography back in 1994, called Quite Contrary (3a). If you request it from either Notts or Derbys. libraries, you may just be lucky. There are hardly any copies left.


If you were a fan of the BBC “Restoration” series a few years ago in which viewers voted for the buildings they thought should be given money for restoration work, you’ll remember Ptolemy Dean, who, along with Marianne Suhr travelled the length and breadth of the UK visiting the buildings that were crying out for lots of TLC. During his visits, Ptolemy was sometimes filmed sketching the buildings and I was quite taken with his artistic skills. The publishers Dorling Kindersley were obviously enthusiastic about his sketches too, as they have now published a book full of them. Britain’s Buildings Places and Spaces (4) contains over a hundred of the sketches which Dean has accumulated over many years. In his introduction he explains that the sketches of buildings are as much about the spaces in between the buildings as the buildings themselves and seeks to reveal aspects of towns and villages that we might otherwise take for granted. In the sketches you will find not only beautiful buildings, but also ordinary ones too and everything in between them: sometimes parked cars, telephone boxes, road signs. There are also some interior sketches: Malmesbury Abbey and Kings Cross Station. It’s a lovely book to browse through, but somehow, putting Ptolemy Dean’s sketches into a book seems to diminish them somehow. I think I would rather go to an art gallery to look at these, or better still have one or two framed on my living room walls – but that of course would cost a lot more than the book!


Finally, John Grisham. My crime reader, Arthur, has just read his latest: The Appeal (5). A verdict has just been recorded against a chemical company accused of dumping toxic waste. In order to ensure that the appeal against the judgement goes his way, the head of the company is determined to infiltrate the Supreme Court. Arthur enjoyed the book, but his overall verdict was “nothing special”. If you’re a Grisham fan, though, it’s probably a must. John Grisham has his own special website


Next time – allotments: a new genre of non-fiction writing ?


1 Maggie’s Tree (Paperback)
by Julie Walters  
Phoenix £7.99  978-0753821732


Julie Walters: Seriously Funny – An Unauthorised Biography
by Lucy Ellis  Virgin  9780753509401 


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