Beach of Falesa by Dylan Thomas, Robert Louis Stevenson

radio-3, play-dramatisation, spring-2014, published-1959, published-1892

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 26 to May 07, 2014

Description: World premiere of an unfilmed screenplay by Dylan Thomas, newly adapted for radio for the centenary of his birth.

Wiltshire arrives on an unnamed Pacific island hoping to trade in copra. But an encounter with rival trader Case leads to a macabre wedding. Shunned by the locals, Wiltshire sets out to uncover the secret behind Case’s mysterious hold over the islanders, and the truth in the tales of the singing devils living deep in the bush.

Dylan Thomas adapted the short story of the same title by Robert Louis Stevenson to create this screenplay but it was never filmed, despite interest from Richard Burton. So this radio adaptation for the centenary of his birth is the world premiere of a work that blends some of the wordplay of Under Milk Wood with the brooding mystery of Heart of Darkness.

Alison Hindell has previously directed for Radio 4 both Under Milk Wood (which combined the archive recording of Burton as First Voice with a new cast) and The Art of Conversation, another Thomas premiere, being a previously unbroadcast radio script written during the war.

Alison came across The Beach of Falesá when her stepdaughter moved into a new house in Sydney and found the published edition of the text amongst the remnants left behind by the previous owner.

Narrator ….. Matthew Rhys
Wiltshire ….. Matthew Gravelle
Case ….. Nicky Henson
Uma ….. Fiona Marr
Jenkins / Captain ….. Simon Armstrong
Randall ….. Stephen Critchlow
Little Jack ….. Steve Toussaint

Original music composed by Roger Goula
Sound, Nigel Lewis
Adapted for radio and directed by Alison Hindell
A BBC Cymru Wales production.

A vile yet compelling look at the cruelty of colonialism written by Stevenson long before Conrad penned The Heart of Darkness and beautifully brought to lyrical life by Thomas.

Poor Father Galoshes
Who never washes

What a shame the film never made it into being; I heard the duo of Burton and Thomas so clear in this disconcerting Stevenson story. Highly recommended and not to be missed.

The Lily and The Lion

bookshelves: published-1959, spring-2014, historical-fiction, france, film-only, medieval5c-16c, medical-eew

Read on May 04, 2014


Description from Netflix: This is the series that inspired George R.R. Martin to write A Game of Thrones. Translated from the orginal French.

“This is historical fiction based on, and starting with, the final years of the 14th century Philip The Fair of France. He is famous to this day for crushing the rich and powerful Knights Templars in a well-coordinated attack on Friday 13 1307 (this is why we consider Friday 13th to be ill-omened and unlucky). By brutally murdering the Knights Templars, Phillip The Fair gained both their considerable power and enormous wealth. As the Grand Master of the Knights Templars, Jacques de Molay, was burnt to death, he cursed the king and his future generations:

“Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation!”

Thus providing the title for this series of books: The Accursed Kings.” – Imperator11

The novels take place during the reigns of the last five Direct Capetian kings and the first two Valois kings, from Philip the Fair to John II. The plot revolves around the attempts of Robert of Artois to reclaim the county of Artois from his aunt Mahaut.

Prologue, The Iron King:

AT the beginning of the fourteenth century, Philip IV, a king of legendary personal beauty, reigned over France as absolute master. He had defeated the warrior pride of the great barons, the rebellious Flemings, the English in Aquitaine, and even the Papacy which he had proceeded to install at Avignon. Parliaments obeyed his orders and councils were in his pay.He had three adult sons to ensure his line.

His daughter was married to King Edward II of England. He numbered six other kings among his vassals, and the web of his alliances extended as far as Russia.He left no source of wealth untapped. He had in turn taxed the riches of the Church, despoiled the Jews, and made extortionate demands from the community of Lombard bankers. To meet the needs of the Treasury he debased the coinage. From day to day the gold piece weighed less and was worth more. Taxes were crushing: the police multiplied. Economic crises led to ruin and famine which, in turn, caused uprisings which were bloodily put down. Rioting ended upon the forks of the gibbet.

Everyone must accept the royal authority and obey it or be broken by it. This, cruel and dispassionate prince was concerned with the ideal of the nation. Under his reign France was great and the French wretched. One power alone had dared stand up to him: the Sovereign Order of the Knights Templar. This huge organisation, at once military, religious and commercial, had acquired its fame and its wealth from the Crusades. Philip the Fair was concerned at the Templars’ independence, while their immense wealth excited his greed. He brought against them the greatest prosecution in recorded history, since there were nearly fifteen thousand accused. It lasted seven years, and during its course every possible infamy was committed.

What is that Chinese curse again? Something like ‘I hope you live in interesting times’. Well these times were remarkably interesting.

Sad to be at the end of this wonderful series even if some of the women rode astride and the sets looked as if they came from an early TV sci-fi series that sold off the props at bargain basement prices.

Robert d’Artois

Edward III

4* The Iron King
4* The Strangled Queen
4* The Poisoned Crown
5* The She-Wolf of France
5* The Lily and the Lion

The She-Wolf of France by Maurice Druon

bookshelves: spring-2014, film-only, france, historical-fiction, medieval5c-16c, published-1959, series, poison, families

Read on May 03, 2014


Description: “This is the original Game of Thrones.” George R.R. Martin.

Charles IV is now king of France and his sister is Edward II of England’s Queen. Having been imprisoned by Edward as leader of the rebellious English barons, Roger Mortimer escapes to France, where he joins the war against the English Aquitaine. But it is his love affair with Isabella, the ‘She-Wolf of France’, who has come seemingly to negotiate a treaty of peace that seals his fate…

4* The Iron King
4* The Strangled Queen
4* The Poisoned Crown
CR The She-Wolf of France
TR The Lily and the Lion

Absolute Beginners

published-1959, london, lifestyles-deathstyles, britain-england, winter-20132014, racism, radio-4, fradio, cults-societies-brotherhoods, music, recreational-drugs, art-forms, prostitution, gangsters, glbt, under-500-ratings, young-adult, casual-violence, period-piece, bullies

Read from January 12 to 19, 2014



Colin MacInnes’s cult classic about teenagers, style and racial tension in 1950s London.

Description: London, 1958. “I swore by Elvis and all the saints that this last teenage year of mine was going to be a real rave.” The eighteen-year-old narrator of Colin MacInnes’ cult classic is determined to declare his independence from earlier generations, as he roams the city with his camera and a sharp eye for the stylish and the subversive. In the smoky jazz clubs of Soho, the coffee bars of Notting Hill and the cheap rooms of Pimlico the young and the restless – the absolute beginners – are revolutionising youth culture and forging a new carefree lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Meanwhile the Teddy Boy gangs are staging internecine battles, and a generation of Black immigrants is struggling to make a life in a hostile city. The definitive account of London life in the 1950s and what it means to be a teenager, this account of a young man’s coming of age captures the spirit of a generation and the changing face of London in the era of the first race riots and the lead up to the swinging Sixties.

Read by Joel MacCormack Abridged and produced by Sara Davies.

Theme tune: Laurie London – He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands – 1958

1. Last year as a teenage for our protagonist, and in Notting Hill too.

2. Mr Cool reports trouble brewing on the streets, the Fabulous Hoplite brings news of a party at Dido Lament’s, and Suzette won’t be persuaded out of her impending marriage.

3. The teenage narrator of Colin MacInnes’s cult classic sets about making some serious money in an attempt to win back the love of his life, and there’s a worrying visit from Mr Cool.

4. The teenage narrator is still shocked by Suzette’s marriage to Henley. Determined to try and woo her back, he takes the opportunity of a boat trip up the Thames to pay her a visit.

5. The teenage narrator finds himself caught up along with his friends in the violence that erupts on the streets of his home patch in Notting Hill.

Unsuprisingly, because of the parentage, MacInnes is at home with his subject matter and the writing is accomplished.