Posted by: billpurdue | November 2, 2008

29 A new month and more new stuff

Bestselling non fiction


I’ve been browsing amongst the bestsellers in W H Smith and spotted one or two titles which I hadn’t come across before which I rather took a fancy to.

It was a sad day when we lost the man in the flat cap and overalls, Fred Dibnah. In fact I think it was round about the time when he was due to appear at the Palace Theatre, Mansfield when he was taken seriously ill. He has produced some very memorable programmes on the telly and some great books. I was interested to find a new book about Fred and his interest in architecture : Fred Dibnah’s Buildings of Britain [Bantam £18.99 9780593061718 ] by David Hall focuses on Fred’s passion for buildings and the ways in which they were built. It includes some examples of Fred’s superb architectural drawings. If only I could draw even half as well as that. By the way the Fred Dibnah website is a little dated, but worth a look nevertheless


Another book just published in September is Lost Crafts: Rediscovering Traditional Skills by Una McGovern [Chambers Harrap £25 9780550104267 ] which has short chapters on many of those skills in the home and the countryside which really should be preserved: skills like dry stone walling, making lemonade, catching eels (if you like that sort of thing!), navigating by the stars and even making whistles. It’s not a “how to do it manual” by any means, rather a brief description of what is involved. A fascinating book, but there’s plenty of white space on the pages and at that price, you need good value- however, there are big discounts available.


 Mystery language


The language in question is what Jack discovers inside a vellum manuscript he finds in a redundant church which he and his wife Beth are preparing to make their home. This is at the beginning of a novel by Matt Rubinstein called Vellum  [Quercus £7.99 9781847242938 ]. We are in Australia; the story is set in the present day and Jack is in the middle of his contract to provide subtitles for a Russian language film. The church they have moved into became redundant ten years previously and it was where Beth’s recently deceased father was the incumbent. After a severe storm which damages the church roof, Jack discovers a trap door leading into a kind of crypt which at first appears to be empty, but then hidden away in a crevice, he finds the manuscript, bound in vellum and written in an undecipherable script with numerous strange drawings. By browsing through some dusty archives , he soon discovers that there is a connection between the church and Cornwall via certain monk many years before. This is as far as I have got, but I don’t think I will continue; it isn’t enthralling or gripping me in any way and, by a quarter of the way through, I think it should be. Perhaps readers of the Da Vinci Code might enjoy this.


Local stuff

Those who like reading about local history (and I’m sure there are many of you around) might like to know about two titles I wouldn’t mind buying myself. The first – Industrial Derbyshire by Michael E Smith takes an overall view of Derbyshire’s industrial past covering amongst others, the mills in the Derwent Valley, the railways, the collieries and, in the 20th century, Rolls Royce and even Toyota at Derby. The second is ideal for anyone interested in Mansfield’s history: Picture the past: Mansfield by the Old Mansfield Society [Breedon Books £14.99 9781859836491]. This is a photographic album including many photos from the website called Picture the Past which was set up by the library authorities of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Derby to collect and make available old photographs of the two counties and cities. They now have some 60,000 images, of which a very small number are included in this book. That one’s definitely on my list.


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