Tuesday 29 June 2010

Before There Were Blogs…

…people wrote diaries – and Liz has just alerted me to the fact that BBC4 is showing “Diary Of A Nobody” for 4 nights this week. I’ve just taken a break from school preparation to catch up with Episode 1 on i-player. It was brilliantly done! [click here]

charles pooter - nobody

Hugh Bonneville was a wonderful Charles Pooter.

If you do not know this story, CP is the archetypal 'little man' =- endearing, yet obsessed with his own importance, happily married to Caroline, his long-suffering wife.

First serialised in Punch in 1888/9, and then published in book form in 1892, the diary was written by two brothers, George and Weedon Grossmith. This is a repeat of the TV series first made in 2007.

little prince Today is also the birthday of the author Antoine de St-Exupery, author of The Little Prince [Google has modified its logo in celebration] A teaching colleague noticed this and went off to the school library to find a copy, to show it to the child she was working with. She returned somewhat miffed, having been told “Oh we don’t have that, it is not modern enough” [published 1943]

There ensued much muttering about it being a children’s classic, the biggest selling French-language book and one of the best selling books around. When I left school, people were busy debating the possibility of buying two copies – one in English and the other in French!

coldcomfort farm

There is so much utter garbage being printed at the minute, whilst many of the classics of previous years collect dust on the shelf. On Sunday night I read a bit of Cold Comfort Farm as part a sermon illustration – and afterwards discovered that many of the congregation didn’t know the book. But they loved the passage [Yes, Liz, it was Amos Starkadder’s sermon – I know you enjoy that passage!]

Bob didn’t come to church on Sunday night – he had already done two services, and the hay fever had left him exhausted. We’d already agreed I’d do the evening at KMFC. He did sound a little concerned though, when I said afterwards that the congregation seemed to  like the “No Butter In Hell” extract.

“Whatever were you reading that for?” he asked. “Preaching about Hell” I said cheerfully. [Not sure he will let me out into the pulpit again…]

wolf hall But in defence of modern writers, I have just finished Wolf Hall, and loved it. A ‘best seller’, I had to get through it at breakneck speed because the library only let it out on restricted loan. I shall have to get it out again and read it at a more leisurely pace. It was full of fabulous Tudor detail and extremely well written. It richly deserved all the awards! [there’s an excellent review here]


  1. Yes, it is the old, well written books which will always pass the test of time. I read Diary when I was much younger and loved it. Also the Three men series at about the same time.
    I have just dipped into a modern 'novel' which had so many spelling errors I wondered if I was seeing correctly..ie 'She rung her hands'..

  2. This is a good read! I think that books are much like hymns and choruses, in that anything that survives over generations is trully good, and anything that seems a bit naff yet is trendy right now, is having its moment but will be forgotten in years to come.

    I've had a wonderful time reading Mansfield Park and then the fourth Twilight book, in quick succession, and loved them both. I think both will really stay in my imagination, and both have given me much food for thought.

  3. I order Cold Comfort Farm! And yes, I liked Wolf Hall too. Although I found the ending didn't feel like an ending...I wanted to read further!

  4. I think Hilary Mantel has done a sequel to Wolf Hall - I shall have to check it out...

    Floss is right above the good stuff really stands the test of time [perhaps I should try the Twilight series sometime]

    And I share ElizabethD's love of "Three Men" - the passage describing the sinister tin of pineapple chunks has me in hysterics every time I read it!

  5. Oh so much to say! We have just discussed Wolf Hall at Book CLub and I was in the minority who flew through it in rapt devotion, so I am encouraged by your praise! My Petit Prince is a bi-lingual version and is out for a re-read after Google's announcement of the date yesterday! And finally I'm so glad that the boys and I started our Summer Diaries today, allowing me a little smug pat on the communal back!! Keep up the fabulous commentary, Angela! You make us all feel good!


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