Social History, General Interest

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Old Codgers Cookbook

David Curwen    [Publisher:  Camden  2013]    Softback    62 pages

Charming, quirky and practical, David Curwen turned his attention to the business of cooking in his early eighties and having conquered the heights of carrot soup, mashed potatoes roast chicken and even flat fish decided to write this manual for anyone else contemplating pans at a late stage in their life. This is really quite a funny book to read, on all sorts of levels, and is also a useful and refreshingly common sensical guide to its subject.

The Old Joke

Reina James    [Publisher:  Portobello Books  2010]    Softback    323 pages

This book has nothing whatever to do with railways, model railways, canals or local history, but I really enjoyed reading it and feel compelled to try and share the experience with you. It is a story about a retired actress, her husband, family and their circle of friends as they negotiate the years approaching old age. Unsentimental, perceptive, well observed and at times both funny and sad, it is a wonderful exploration of how relationships work in the longer term, how children surprise parents and also a reminder that as we grow older we can still harbour desires, hopes and a keen appetite for life. I hope the author won't mind me saying that she is the daughter of Sid James, and so actually inhabited the world of theatre and entertainment explored in this book. While I do not think any of the relationships explored necessarily reflect any experienced by the author, it seems to me that this book gives an interesting insight into aspects of show business, in addition to being a brilliant exploration of the human condition. I read quite a lot of fiction and this is one of the books that I have most enjoyed. It is the one book that has probably given me most pause for thought about my own life and the relationships in it.

Trenches To Trams The Life of a Bristol Tommie

Clive Burlton    [Publisher:  Author  2012]    Softback    192 pages

Subtitled "The George Pine Story" this book is the story of an ordinary Bristolian who experienced extraordinary times. Born in 1891, George Pine served throughout the First World War, was both injured and decorated, became a tram driver and survived several scrapes during the Bristol Blitz before retiring in 1956. Encouraged to write down his memories by his grandchildren he wrote down much of his experiences and it is this that form the basis of this book. The author has painstakingly researched the events around George's story uncovering a large amount of material in the process, all of which is very well put together and presented in this surprisingly visual book. Full of interest from numerous points of view, Military and social history, Bristol and its tramways and the later buses and the Bristol blitz, this is also a moving testament to a generation who lived through hardship and upset that it is difficult to now imagine.

Wigan Pier

John Hannavy    [Publisher:  Lightmoor  2016]    Softback    144 pages

The facts and fictions of an enduring Music Hall joke, the fantasy creation of one George Formby Senior. Coalfields, canals, modern history and even some steam engines - a very attractively produced and colourful book!