Posted by: billpurdue | December 4, 2011

A special sort of railway book

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s very rare for a website to be set up just to sell one title – unless you are talking about The Bible or The Koran perhaps. This is just what has been done to market a recent book of railway photography called On Parallel Lines [On Parallel Lines Publishing £19.99 978-0956769008]. The website in question is http://on-parallel-lines.co.uk/

According to the website, this book has taken 5 years to compile as it involved sorting through an enormous pile of negatives taken between 1960 and 1968 in various locations around the North of England. The photographers were Ken Horan, a former locomotive fireman and Ted Parker, a professional photographer. The book has been favourably reviewed in the enthusiasts’ magazines. I was going to say that it can be obtained from the website, but the website states that currently the book is out of stock and Amazon don’t have any copies either, but you may be able to pick one up at one of several retail outlets, listed on the website, which are scattered around northern England. They include Bill Hudson Transport Books at Matlock, Peak Rail at Darley Dale or Hudsons Music in Chesterfield.

Were you a fan of the BBC TV sitcom “Only Fools and Horses”? I wasn’t particularly sold on it, but I must be in a minority, as it is reckoned to be Britain’s most-watched and best-loved sitcom. Well fans of the series can now indulge themselves in Only Fools and Horses: the untold story of Britain’s favourite comedy by Graham McCann [Canongate £20 978-0857860545] Read the full story of this comedy, with lots of behind the scenes information and contributions from the actors, the scriptwriters, and the producers.

Simon Hoggart, the Guardian’s political sketchwriter, has a new book out – Send up the Clowns [Guardian Books £8.99 9780852652435], which is a collection of some of his parliamentary sketches from 2007-11 which spans the period from the last days of the Blair premiership, through what are termed the “shadow filled” days  of Gordon Brown (“the grumpiest prime minister in recent history”) and ending with the “comedy double act” of Clegg and Cameron. The book follows on from Hands of History, a similar collection covering the decade of Tony Blair as prime minister.

Grumpy Old Man?

Well, I seem to have caused a very minor stir last time with my comments about libraries scoring own goals by introducing self service issuing systems and using an automated phone system to inform people that the book(s) they requested is/are now available for collection.

I haven’t changed my mind about these innovations, but I think I should point out that I am not against new technology in itself, but perhaps the way new technology is being introduced in libraries. I’ll just make two more points: first if the introduction of these devices is the only way that some libraries will be able to remain open because of the financial situation, then I suppose we will have to get to like them in the long run. Second, when self service issuing systems are introduced, perhaps some libraries should be told that that doesn’t mean that they can do away with staff all together. It seems to be a common complaint that if you need help with the self service machine, there is never anyone around to help.

Next time: Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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