Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4) by Dick Francis


Read by Martin Jarvis and I like him!

Cheltenham is a lovely racecourse.

Description: It’s the third death on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day that really troubles super-sleuth Sid Halley. Last seen in 1995’s Come to Grief, former champion jockey Halley knows the perils of racing all too well-but in his day, jockeys didn’t usually reach the finishing line with three .38 rounds in the chest. But this is precisely how he finds jockey Huw Walker-who, only a few hours earlier, had won the coveted Triumph Hurdle.

Just moments before the gruesome discovery, Halley had been called upon by Lord Enstone to make discreet inquiries into why his horses appeared to be on a permanent losing streak. Are races being fixed? Are bookies taking a cut? And if so, are trainers and jockeys playing a dangerous game with stakes far higher than they are realistic?

Halley’s quest for answers draws him even deeper into the darker side of the race game, in a life-or-death power play that will push him to his very limits-both professionally and personally.

Opening: “Sadly, death at the races is not uncommon. However, three in a single afternoon was sufficiently unusual to raise more than an eyebrow. That only one of the deaths was of a horse was more than enough to bring the local constabulary hotfoot to the track.”

How lovely to find this dustying up in the storage boxes and I dive in with relish as it has been ages since an encounter with the wonderful Dick Francis.

4* Odds Against (Sid Halley, #1)
3* Whip Hand (Sid Halley, #2)
3* Come to Grief (Sid Halley, #3)
3.5* Under Orders (Sid Halley, #4)

4* Bolt (Kit Fielding, #2)

3* Proof
4* Dead Cert
4* Blood Sport
2* Shattered
3* Nerve
4* Decider
3* Straight
3* For Kicks
4* Bonecrack
3* Enquiry
3* Field of Thirteen

The Invention of Brazil by Misha Glenny

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, travel, politics, filthy-lucre, anthropology, casual-violence, environmental-issues, fradio, gangsters, slaves, under-10-ratings, true-grime, south-americas, sleazy, revolution, religion, recreational-drugs, radio-4, music, lifestyles-deathstyles, history, colonial-overlords, bullies, brazil, art-forms, architecture, adventure, plague-disease, roman-catholic, sport, suicide

Read from May 02 to 19, 2014



Description: Forget the beach volleyball, carnival, and the rest – here’s the truth about Brazil. The murder rate is among the highest in the world. The economic inequality is visible wherever you go. Behind the happy cultural imagery there lies a much darker Brazil, the result of an extremely dark colonial history when this land was little more than a giant farm worked by slaves.

Misha Glenny and producer Miles Warde travel from the favela of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro up the coast to Salvador, the first capital of Brazil, and then back to Sao Paulo, economic powerhouse of the south. On the way they meet contributors including the anthropologist Peter Fry; Americo Martins of Rede TV; historian Lilia Schwarz; and bestselling author Laurentino Gomez. Further contributions from Luciana Martins, David Brookshaw and Patrick Wilcken, author of Empire Adrift.

From the team behind The Invention of Germany and The Invention of Spain.

Salvador. Most of the slaves to Brazil landed here. At that time, Salvador was the capitol.

São Paulo is a sprawling mass and is the modern economic hub of this vast country. It was from this area that the slavers worked to capture indigneous indians. Think ‘The Mission’, Portugeuse style.

Episode 1: BBC DESCRIPTION: In The Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny traces the gaps between the image and reality, beginning with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. More slaves were transported to Brazil than anywhere else, more than the United States, more than anywhere. “There were many Africans who served as interpreters,” Joao Reis explains, “who could tell the slaves: ‘You are not going to be eaten by those whites’. And that was the African fear – that they were being brought to an unknown world by whites where they would be eaten.”

Rocinha, the biggest slum in South America.

The favela borders Gavea, one of the richest areas of the city. The contrast is stark.

Episode 2: BBC DESCRIPTION: Misha Glenny continues his exploration of the little known but extraordinary events that have shaped Brazil. This week, two unexpected events in Brazil’s path to independence. The first occurred in 1808, when the entire Portuguese court moved across the Atlantic to escape Napoleon. They lived in Rio de Janeiro, which they enjoyed so much that they stayed on for another 13 years. The second occurred in 1822 when the King of Portugal’s son, Dom Pedro, declared ‘Independence or Death’, breaking Brazil free from her European overlords. We reveal that the British were heavily involved in both events.

Episode 3: BBC DESCRIPTION: From giant factory farm for Europeans to modern BRIC economy, the story of Brazil’s transformation is captured in this final programme in the life of Getulio Vargas – moderniser, dictator, and finally democratically elected president. In the final part of the Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny explores the life of Vargas, the man who changed Brazil.

“I was struck by how short he was … the crowd went wild with adulation, an enormous mass of people. Their spontaneous shouts made me think I was in Italy, watching one of those fascist rallies.” Unnamed public official, seeing Vargas for the first time.

Vargas came to power in 1930 and proved an expert at keeping himself in power. Initially he styled himself on Mussolini – the story of why he took Brazil into the Second World War on the side of the Allies is central here. As also are the events leading up to his suicide while still in power. With contributions from anthropologist Lilia Schwarz, Professor David Brookshaw, Peter Fry, and author Ana Maria Machado whose father was arrested by Vargas several times.

“As quid pro quo for escorting the Portuguese across the Atlantic, the British ended up arm twisting the Portuguese royal court into signing a very one sided treaty, which in fact ended up giving the British more rights than the Brazilians themselves.” Patrick Wilcken, author Empire Adrift.

I enjoyed this three part documentary, however flister Laura, a Brazilian herself, rated this 2* so maybe this is not a rounded portrayal.

Gironimo!: Riding the Very Terrible 1914 Tour of Italy by Tim Moore

bookshelves: spring-2014, nonfiction, published-2014, radio-4, history, sport, autobiography-memoir, italy

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 10 to 16, 2014



Description: It is twelve years since Tim Moore, the ultimate amateur, slogged around the route of the Tour de France. At forty-eight years old, and distraught by those riders who are despoiling the heroic image of cycling, he decides it’s time to reacquaint his feet with cleats and show these soft modern-day cyclists what a real challenge is.

A brief internet search later, he discovers the 1914 Giro d’Italia, the hardest bike race in history. Eighty-one riders started and only eight finished, after enduring cataclysmic storms, roads strewn with nails and even the loss of an eye by one competitor.

Undeterred, Tim sets off to cycle all 3,200km of it. For authenticity, he decides to do it on a 100-year-old bike, which, unburdened by relevant experience, he opts to build himself. Wearing period leather goggles, a woollen jersey, and with an account of the 1914 Giro as his trusty companion, Tim sets off to tell the story of this historic race, as well as the travails of a middle-aged man cycling up a lot of large mountains on a mainly wooden bicycle.

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: Tim sets off to tell the story of this historic race, as well as the travails of a middle-aged man cycling up a lot of large mountains on a mainly wooden bicycle.

Episode 2: Milan, and searching for the start line.

Episode 3: Approaching Genoa

Episode 4: Rome

Episode 5: reat every sat-nav as a serial killer.

Not being much of a cyclist was no deterrent to the enjoyment factor of this upbeat memoir.

The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart

bookshelves: sport, published-1971

Read in April, 2008

Description: The cult classic that can still change your life… Let the dice decide! This is the philosophy that changes the life of bored psychiatrist Luke Rhinehart — and in some ways changes the world as well. Because once you hand over your life to the dice, anything can happen. Entertaining, humorous, scary, shocking, subversive, The Dice Man is one of the cult bestsellers of our time.

Read this in those few sober moments on a 50th birthday jaunt in Dublin. The thing about that city is that every other building is an Irish Pub, YES that’s right! and every other other establishment is a sports shop. So dice in hand we went through St.Stephens Green, nodding politely at James Joyce’s bust (as you do), to have some snake-eye craic.

So following dice-law we ended up with

11 rugby shirts – and only when we got home did we realise we had purchased ‘five nation’ defuncts. Still, Cotton Traders make a fine garment, don’tcha think!
6 – Guinness pint pots
2 – Shilelaghs (the plush version)
Each-way betting slip on The Kings Castle, which romped home in a place at 20-1

Blame those ivories.

The book itself is crap, however the idea is brilliantly lunatic – mad I tell ya! So when life seems a bit tame, bring out those dice.

Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10) by P.G. Wodehouse

bookshelves: published-1953, radio-4, spring-2014, amusing, sport, britain-england, filthy-lucre, gambling

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 26 to May 04, 2014



Description: Brilliantly funny comedy-thriller. Jeeves is on loan to young Lord Rowcester (Bill). Wooster is absent, attending a school designed to teach the aristocracy to fend for itself. Jeeves has to exert his gigantic fish-fed brain to help his new master raise money by selling his crumbling pile to a wealthy American widow.

She thinks the Abbey is wonderful, full of ghosts. (Her hobby: psychic phenomena.) Will she buy it? There are complications. It’s damp. She has fibrositis. Plus Bill’s fiancée Jill mistrusts ‘Rosie’s’ motives. There’s also bluff Captain Biggar on the trail of a bookie and his clerk, who conned him at Epsom races and have somehow gone to ground in the Abbey. They are in fact Bill and Jeeves. Will he unmask them? Will Jeeves be on hand to provide more than brandy?

Dazzling star cast; witty production. Martin Jarvis having played Jeeves on Broadway now brings his award-winning characterization to the Classic Serial, abetted by Rufus Sewell, Joanne Whalley, Glenne Headly, Jamie Bamber and Ian Ogilvy.

An all-star cast brings P.G. Wodehouse supremely funny 1950s horse-racing novel to galloping life. Dramatised by Archie Scottney.

There’s a White Hunter Captain Biggar on the trail of a bookie and his clerk who conned him at Epsom races. Who are they? Could they in fact be Bill and Jeeves? Will the captain unmask them? Will Jeeves and his gigantic fish-fed brain win the day?

Finally our impeccable ‘gentleman’s personal gentleman’ has a solution to dazzle and amaze us all. A stellar cast in Rosalind Ayres’ sparkling production. Martin Jarvis, having played Jeeves on Broadway and in various one-man performances, now brings his award-winning characterisation to the Classic Serial, abetted by Rufus Sewell, Joanne Whalley, Glenne Headly, Jamie Bamber, Christopher Neame and Ian Ogilvy.

Part 1/2: Jeeves, on loan to young Lord Rowcester (Bill), devises a plan to assist his impoverished new master sell his crumbling pile to a wealthy American widow. But will she buy it?

Part 2/2: Jeeves is exerting his fish-fed brain to the utmost to assist Bill to raise money. His lordship must pay the debts he has accrued while working, in disguise, as an Epsom bookie. Might obtaining Rosie Spottsworth’s valuable diamond pendant help? Would it be useful for Bill to dance the Charleston with Rosie? Could the ghost of Lady Agatha further the cause? Will Rosie purchase the Abbey?

Dramatised by Archie Scottney
Director Rosalind Ayres
A Jarvis and Ayres production for BBC Radio 4

3* The Inimitable Jeeves (Jeeves, #2)
5* Carry on, Jeeves (Jeeves, #3)
4* Right Ho, Jeeves (Jeeves, #6)
3* The Mating Season (Jeeves, #9)
3* Ring for Jeeves (Jeeves, #10)
4* Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen (Jeeves, #15)

4* Something Fresh (Blandings Castle, #1)

4* Joy in the Morning
4* A Damsel In Distress
TR Leave It to Psmith
3* Summer Lightning
3* Love Among the Chickens
TR The Man With Two Left Feet
TR Cocktail Time
3* Service with a Smile
3* Uneasy Money
3* Summer Moonshine
TR Ukridge
3* Eggs, Beans And Crumpets
3* The Small Bachelor
TR Barmy in Wonderland

Playing for His Life by John Peacock

bookshelves: winter-20132014, anti-semitic, sport, nazi-related, wwii, published-2011, fradio, radio-4

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from January 31 to February 01, 2014


Thankee Brazilliant!

Desciption: Already under Gestapo Surveillance, tennis ace Baron Gottfried Von Cramm, married but secretly homosexual, offends Hitler, by refusing to join the Nazi Party. He believes himself to be safe as long as he remains Germany’s number one and winning. ‘But I must win. I can’t lose, and I can’t quit.’ He was left playing for his life.

Producer/Director: Celia de Wolff
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4

1931 portrait of Gottfried von Cramm

From wiki: The Nazis wanted to exploit his blonde good looks as a symbol of Aryan supremacy, but he refused to identify with Nazism. In the war, he was discharged from the military because of frostbite.

This was a heartbreaker. Especially recommended for bulletpoint Karen bulletpoint

Any Human Heart

bookshelves: impac-longlist, booker-longlist, fraudio, published-2002, winter-20132014, tbr-busting-2014, spies, historical-fiction, lit-richer, lifestyles-deathstyles, art-forms, epistolatory-diary-blog, south-americas, uruguay, britain-england, cults-societies-brotherhoods, sport, gr-library, france, paris, oxford, glbt, spain, books-about-books-and-book-shops, norfolk, teh-brillianz, greece, adventure, cover-love, epic-proportions, eye-scorcher, london, madrid, war, wwii, lisbon, portugal, filthy-lucre, nassau, bahamas, switzerland, britain-scotland, iceland, suicide, teh-demon-booze, new-york, germany, picaresque, tongue-firmly-in-cheek, travel, edinburgh, those-autumn-years, too-sexy-for-maiden-aunts, washyourmouthout-language, north-americas, music, midlife-crisis, african-continent, afr-nigeria, skoolzy-stuff, dodgy-narrator, afr-somalia

Read from November 28, 2013 to January 16, 2014

Read by Mike Grady

From the description: The journals begin with Mountstuart’s boyhood in Montevideo, Uruguay, then move to Oxford in the 1920s and the publication of his first book, then on to Paris where he meets Joyce, Picasso, Hemingway, et al., and to Spain, where he covers the civil war. During World War II, we see him as an agent for naval intelligence, becoming embroiled in a murder scandal that involves the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The postwar years bring him to New York as an art dealer in the world of 1950s abstract expressionism, then on to West Africa, to London where he has a run-in with the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, to France where, in his old age, he acquires a measure of hard-won serenity. This is a moving, ambitious, and richly conceived novel that summons up the heroics and follies of twentieth-century life.

In the fashion of Zelig, Forrest Gump and the 100 year old man, Mountstuart is in all the right places meeting all the important people, however Any Human Heart is an absolute joy as Boyd’s writing leaves those also-rans in the starting gates.

Purringly enjoyed Logan’s slamming of the Bloomsbury set, that circle of spite who lived in squares and loved in triangles. Not sure about the portrayal of Duke and Duchess and for this reason I support a flawed, dodgy narrator scenario.

And that goodreads product description box – WTF! It is just a review filched over from Amazon book sales, with its inherent bias. Bad News! Check the product description elsewhere.

Born on April 20, 1893 in Barcelona, Joan Miró Ferra was a Spanish painter.

From wiki: Sir Harry Oakes, 1st Baronet (December 23, 1874 – July 7, 1943) was an American-born British Canadian gold mine owner, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist. He earned his fortune in Canada and in the 1930s moved to the Bahamas for tax purposes, where he was murdered in 1943 in notorious circumstances. The cause of death and the details surrounding it have never been entirely determined, and have been the subject of several books and four films.

Have the TV miniseries to watch at some stage, however, for now, I will mull over the full life of Logan MS – I am in my weeds for you.

4* Restless
5* Any Human Heart – recommended
4* Brazzaville Beach
WL Waiting for Sunrise
3* Armadillo
AB Solo