A bit about me

Hi, I’m Bill Purdue, a  retired librarian living in Nottinghamshire, UK. I wanted to put this blog on the web for The Chad, the local newspaper for Mansfield, Ashfield and surrounding areas of Notts. and east Derbys.  I want to tell people about the wealth of reading that’s on offer in bookshops, libraries and elsewhere and hopefully persuade some who don’t read that they might be missing something


  1. Hello
    In the past you have kindly mentioned my peeks at The Past/Peek books on your blog. I thought you may be interested to know I have now done a biography of a man who was a friend of Harry Houdini, made tiny models and ran a ‘House of Wonders’ museum in Castleton. here is a synopsis:

    Houdini; the Man Who Could Escape From Anything Or Anywhere; the Man Who Could Walk Through Walls and Cheat Death.And yet the stunt that helped to make Houdini a legend- escaping from a strait jacket whilst suspended hundreds of feet in the air wasn’t invented by the Master Mystifier. That honour belonged to a long forgotten Sheffield schoolboy…
    Randini-The Man Who Helped Houdini is the remarkable story of a fan who helped reinvent his hero. Modelling himself on the escape artist, collecting every picture and news item, the young Randolph Douglas lived in world almost as magical as the music halls glowing like coral reefs in the grey industrial wasteland. His pocket money bought not toys but locks, handcuffs and even straightjackets as he dreamed of future glory.
    But it wasn’t just a daydream. Somewhere along the way fantasy and reality emerged as Houdini, the man who dined with princes, the man who was more famous than anyone, came to tea and began a friendship that lasted to the end of his life. But it wasn’t just a star pandering to a wide eyed fan. What Houdini found over tea and buns was to “change the history of Magic”*

    Using unpublished material from the Magic Circle, primary sources, interviews with family and internationally respected experts, Randini is a tale of an unlikely friendship, dreams dreamed, dreams lost and then refdirected, set against a backdrop of the music hall and two World Wars.
    ‘What Douglas did next would change the course of magic’s history’ The Secret Life of Houdin William Kalush and Larry Sloman

  2. I wonder if you would be interested in, at least reading, a book of some local interest, which is at the moment, a Vanity Publication? It describes local life betwen the wars and the escapades of a Glider Pilot who lived nearby and his meeting with Tito and his partisans. If you would be inerested I would be very pleased to let you have a complimentary copy if you could provide an address.

  3. Hi Bill, thanks for the plug of book Yo’d Mek a Parson Swear! Its amazed me, I wrote it only as a means of letting my kids and grandkids know where I came from and how far I have climbed. It was to be left on my pc in the hopes of one of my lot finding and reading it on my death. A (published) friend of mine asked to read it, said it should be published and on his say so, I went ahead and did just that. I personally thought it crap and could not see how on earth anyone else would find it interesting. But I ask, not for the first time, what the hell do I know.
    I am now on my 4th to be called Oh Yo’ Do Swear Pretty! I am also working on a book of poetry. Here’s a sample:

    A weekend in the life of a 1940’s child.

    Can yo’ recall, Rum-stick-a-bum an’ other street games we’d play?
    Tharr ‘opscotch grid we’d chalked on the corsey ‘ud be there for many a day.
    Tinny lurky an’ ‘ide an’ seek, statues an’ dobby annall,
    n talent shows in somebody’s yard, the backdrop a lavatory wall.
    Them picnics we’d begged us mam’s to mek, we’d set off, babe in pram,
    an tightly wrapped in the Evening Post, bottled watter an’ bread and jam.
    On King Edwards park we’d find a spot beneath some leafy bower,
    greedily wolfin’ dahn the feast and back ‘ome in ‘alf an ‘our!
    Sat’dy we’d get up real early, wielding the dustpan and brush
    hurriedly getting our chores done to get to the threp’ny rush.
    The Perils of Pauline, Burn ’em up Barnes, not to mention Olly and Stan!
    The thunderous noise, instantly stilled the second the flicks began.
    Pauline’s tied to the railway lines, on her face the camera lingers
    showing her absolute terror, as we peeked through our fingers.
    An’ even as we’d boo and hiss, our hero rode into sight
    pulling her free with a lusty kiss, whilst putting the baddies to flight.
    And oh how we hated Sundays, Family Favourites and Sally Army
    an’ the street long stench of cabbage was enough to send us all barmy.
    Mam and dad went to their bed, thi’ said to get some rest!
    Don’t know what they did up there but we’d soon need a bigger nest!
    After dinner no noise could we utter, we could only sit out on the kerb,
    us feet placed neat in the gutter, till ‘Dum diddly dum’ we heard.
    Over doorsteps of stale bread n jam, Dick Barton and Snowy would thrill,
    followed by Orphan Annie, I can hear the theme music still.
    All through the meal we would listen, gog eyed at the Captain and Jock
    but somewhere, around about seven, mam would glance up at the clock,
    an’ announce it were time for us bed, ‘avin’ noticed by now, we were yawnin’. “Come on yo’ lot, let’s ‘ave yer…..don’t forget, yo’ve got school in the mornin’!”

  4. Hi Bill,

    Thank you very much for reviewing my book “Blood on my Hands. A Surgeon at War”. If you or any fellow readers have any questions please feel free to comment here or on my facebook page.

    Many kind regards,
    Craig Jurisevic

  5. I saw your post about Colin Gifford, one of the very greatest British railway photographers. I grew up in Mickleover, Derbyshire (born in 1956) and was a terrific railway enthusiast as a child. I live in America now but on visits to Britain I often visit the National Railway Museum in York. A few years ago they had an exhibition of Colin Gifford photographs. Magnificent! I was able to get a copy of his book _And Gone Forever_ there, but haven’t managed to find any of the others. To open that book is to be carried back instantly into the smoky, sooty, but delightful world of the steam railways that enchanted my childhood.

  6. Hello Mr Purdue
    In May, I was thrilled to learn that you were planning to read my new book ‘Poppadom Preach’. Since then, I haven’t heard anything so I’m not sure if this is bad news – i.e. you disliked it so much you decided not to post a review! – or if you just haven’t had the time to read it yet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it’s the latter…
    Best wishes, and many thanks for your entertaining and informative blogs.
    Almas Khan

    • Hi

      Many thanks for your comment and your compliments about my blog. It’s nice to know that authors are reading my blog. I’m sorry that I haven’t got round to reading your book, but I will try to get hold of a copy in the next few weeks and write about it in my blog. Unfortunately I don’t have time to read all the books I mention in the blog. Sometimes I just give them a mention because they sound interesting. I will read it, but I can’t say when at the moment.
      Thanks again for your comments
      Bill Purdue

  7. That’s great! Thanks again.

  8. Hiya Bill, we meet again 4 books later. How’re you doing?

    Joy James

  9. Hi Bill – Millside Radio is 25 next month and is keen to invite ex members to our celebrations on Friday 17th & Sat 18th Oct. If you are available it would be great to see you, we can even swap stories about life in Selston!! Please email me markunderwood@millsideradio.co.uk. Thanks

  10. Hi Bill, following on from your recent train book review I have been meaning to let you know (as you once mentioned my own effort and the difficulties I had with the hard-copy publisher going bust) that one of mine has turned up on the Oxfam website:
    So, if anybody wants to read a travel book with a difference, and perform a charitable deed to boot, here’s their chance ! Incidentally, as a keen railway traveller I could not write such a thing without mentioning train journeys in Japan, China and India.

    On another tack, we earlier this year departed Nottingham’s fair city for the far-flung clamour of what is Hong Kong and readers might be interested to learn that I am contributing an article to the cultural magazine LeftLion chronicling (on-line) the adventures of a loony Notts pair out east. Here’s the link to the first edition detailing our move from Kirkby to Hong Kong, enjoy !:

    Best regards, Ben Zabulis

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