The Ballroom of Romance

 

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, britain-ireland, lifestyles-deathstyles, families, love, published-1972, summer-2014, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read on August 30, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8nxx

Description: Niamh Cusack reads one of William Trevor’s greatest short stories, set in an isolated dance hall in Ireland.
Each Saturday night, 36-year-old Bridie leaves her ailing father, and cycles to the Ballroom of Romance, a wayside dance-hall where the local men and women meet to dance, talk and perhaps find love. For twenty years Bridie has cycled the seven miles there and back again; now, no longer a girl, she knows her chances of romance are fading but still there is Dano Ryan.

Reader: Niamh Cusack
Producer: Justine Willett
Writer: William Trevor – born in 1928, William Trevor is widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of short stories in the English language. He has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated five times for the Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Love and Summer. Last year he was awarded the inaugral Charleston/Chichester Award for a Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction

As you can tell, I am very partial to an atmospheric penned by William Trevor:

3* Love and Summer
3* The Collected Stories
3* Cheating at Canasta
3* A Bit on the Side
4* Death in Summer
4* The Hill Bachelors
WL The Children of Dynmouth
3* My House in Umbria
3* Reading Turgenev
3* The Ballroom of Romance
3* Angels at the Ritz
3* The Distant Past

Haphazard House by Mary Wesley

bookshelves: under-50-ratings, kiddlewinks, play-dramatisation, published-1983, radio-4x, art-forms, summer-2014, britain-england, families, fradio, games-people-play, gambling, amusing, adventure, ghosties-ghoulies, devon

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: R4x
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from July 04 to 22, 2014

 

R4x

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048ndny

Description: When eleven-year-old Lisa Fuller and her younger brother Josh buy a house in the country with their winnings from a horse race, their whole family encounters strange and wonderful chaos in their new home.

Episode 1:Impoverished and desperate, Pa Fuller’s reckless bet and acquisition of a panama hat changes all. Starring James Nickerson.

Episode 2: The Fullers and friends move into their new abode and soon find it a source of joy and ominous mystery.

The Fullers and friends are imperilled and beguiled in equal measure, as well as adrift in time.

‘If you want to get ahead, get a hat’, runs the adage, and in this story runs along with the idea that Papa’s new Panama is magic. This story was long before the Potteresque choosing hat. Charming story. Three hattips.

Pennies from Heaven by Dennis Potter, Kenith Trodd (Introduction)

bookshelves: play-dramatisation, film-only, under-50-ratings, summer-2014, period-piece, britain-england, forest, music

Read from June 07 to 17, 2014


1978 mini-series

Pennies from Heaven (1978)TV Mini-Series

IMDB description: Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest frustrations in his life. He meets an innocent young school teacher, Eileen, who seems to hear the same music, but when Eileen learns that he’s married, and that she’s pregnant with his child, she runs away. Arthur gives up everything to find and protect her, but fate and the music haven’t finished with Arthur Parker. – Written by Kathy Li

Bob Hoskins
Gemma Craven
Nigel Havers

Theme Tune

The bits that my better half finds so ugly are the singing interludes, those songs of the times that further the story along and explain innermost thoughts. Personally, I love the Royal Forest of Dean setting for Arthur’s alternative life.

Yes, this is a dated offering but it is one that I have waited a long time to see. Potter was one of the ground-breaking social-realism playwrights. No doubt Mimal will like the Singing Detective better when we get to it. Episode details that follow are taken exclusively from wiki:

Part 1 ‘Down Sunnyside Lane’: In the mid-1930s, Arthur and Joan Parker (Bob Hoskins and Gemma Craven) are an incompatible married couple living in the London suburbs. Arthur, a travelling sheet music salesman, is a passionate man who is frustrated by his wife’s repressed nature. On a car journey to the Gloucester area he picks up ‘the accordion man’, a vagrant (Kenneth Colley) who invariably busks on the instrument in the vicinity of the other characters, but the signs of the man’s mental illness soon lead Arthur to reject him after they spend several hours together. While trying to persuade a shopkeeper (Arnold Peters) to take some of his goods, Arthur notices a female customer with whom he immediately becomes besotted. Arthur and ‘the accordion man’ both manage to frighten the young woman. Before returning to London, Arthur has sex with Marjorie, a Gloucestershire prostitute (Rosemary Martin) in the back of his car.

Part 2 ‘The Sweetest Thing’: Arthur’s bank manager (Peter Cellier) refuses to give him a loan. Eileen Everson (Cheryl Campbell), the woman he encountered, is a junior school teacher in the Forest of Dean who lives with her widowed coal mining father and two brothers, also miners. Meanwhile, Arthur has returned to the area to trace the woman he is obsessed with. He finally encounters Eileen in a wood near the Everson’s cottage, and returns to their home where Arthur claims his wife has died in a motorcycle accident. He and Eileen eventually make love after the rest of the household have gone to bed.

Part 3 ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’: The Parker’s marriage briefly revives after Joan smears lipstick on her nipples, and appears to respond to some of her husband’s sexual fantasies. Joan is persuaded to use her inheritance to finance Arthur’s desire to open a record shop. Meanwhile, Eileen has discovered she is pregnant and is forced to give up her job. After unexpectedly meeting a young blind girl (Yolande Palfrey) in a field, whom he lusts after under his breath, Arthur reappears at the Everson family home, and his relationship with Eileen revives. The blind girl is raped and murdered, for which Arthur is arrested, but soon released. Eileen moves to London, but she has though lost contact with Arthur again.

“Part 4 Better Think Twice”

Almost destitute, Eileen eats little and is in arrears for her cheap hotel room. She meets the superficially sympathetic Tom (Hywel Bennett), a wealthy man with no obvious occupation, and becomes dependent upon him. Arthur opens his new record shop, but he has very few customers, an exception being Tom. The two men get along very well, and Arthur delivers some records to the apartment where Eileen is recovering from an (illegal) abortion paid for by Tom, but the couple are not reunited. Arthur later glimpses Eileen in the pub where she had met Tom, and they leave for the record shop. Unaware of Arthur’s connection to Tom, Eileen explains that the man who paid for her abortion now has a hold over her, and he intends to be her pimp. The couple decide they have to escape from London, and shatter Arthur’s stock of fragile shellac discs.

“Part 5 Painting the Clouds”

A police inspector (Dave King) visits Joan after Arthur’s unexplained disappearance and the destruction of his retail stock. Her comments about Arthur’s sexual tastes, particularly his wish for his wife to move around the house without wearing her knickers, lead the police to make a connection with the murder of the blind girl whose undergarment had been removed. ‘The accordion man’ is haunted by her image and his responsibility for the murder. (It is clear he is not delusional over this event.) He is disorientated when running into Eileen while she is street walking; the dead girl bears a resemblance to her. Arthur is now living off Eileen’s immoral earnings, and she is a client of a Conservative MP, Major Archibald Paxville (Ronald Fraser), who she unsuccessfully attempts to blackmail. ‘The accordion man’ commits suicide, probably by throwing himself off Hammersmith Bridge (which also features ominously in The Singing Detective), and his corpse is discovered. Arthur and Eileen’s false optimism for the future is dashed when they see a newspaper headline indicating he is wanted for murder.

“Part 6 Says My Heart”

Arthur and Eileen are on the run. They spend the night in a barn, but Eileen’s attempt to find help eventually leads her to shoot dead a lonely and deranged farmer (Philip Locke). They feed and clean themselves in his farmhouse, and scavenge through the man’s possessions for money and things they can sell. Leaving the farm Arthur stops, thinking he has seen ‘the accordion man’, but cannot restart their stolen car. Passing police take the couple in for questioning, and Arthur is charged with the murder of the blind girl. In the crown court inconsistencies in Arthur’s various accounts, and a witness unwittingly confusing Arthur’s fixation on Eileen for an obsession with the blind girl lead to his conviction and execution. After Eileen notes the time set for his hanging has passed, Arthur reappears and a happy ending is announced by the two characters.

CR Pennies from Heaven
5* The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today
TR The Singing Detective

Mad Madge by Katie Whitaker

bookshelves: history, hardback, published-2002, stuarts, restoration, civil-war-english, biography, books-about-books-and-book-shops, summer-2014, skoolzy-stuff, one-penny-wonder, under-50-ratings, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Miss M
Recommended for: Wanda, Jemidar, Laura
Read from June 02 to 14, 2014

 

Description: Margaret Cavendish’s life as a writer and noblewoman unfolded against the backdrop of the English Civil War and Restoration. Pursuing the only career open to women of her class, she became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Henrietta Maria. Exiled to Paris with the Queen, she met and married William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle. In exile, Margaret did something unthinkable for a seventeenth-century Englishwoman: she lived proudly as a writer. Eventually she published twenty-three volumes, starting with Poems and Fancies, the first book of English poetry published by a woman under her own name. But later generations too easily accepted the disparaging opinions of her shocked critics, and labeled her “Mad Madge of Newcastle.”Mad Madge is both a lively biography of a fascinating woman and a window on a tumultuous cultural time.

After the Dissolution, St John’s Abbey and land, just outside the city walls of Colchester, was released for a tidy sum to private ownership. It was in this gatehouse that Thomas and Elizabeth raised their young, Margaret being the baby of the family.

Why isn’t this biography better known within the history lovers’ circle? Because of her prolific and thinly veiled scribblings of actual people and events there was little difficulty in finding so many facts to relate, and Ms Whitaker has done a fine job here in bringing something entirely palatable to the table. Heartily recommended.

TRIVIA: Literature of the Country House Week 1 Bolsover:

CR Mad Madge
TR A Royal Passion

Bears Of England by Mick Jackson

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, radio-4x, fantasy, summer-2014, britain-england, doo-lally, mythology, under-50-ratings, noir

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from June 06 to 12, 2014


http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lgfqr

Three eccentric stories from this collection by Mick Jackson, which mix fantasy with folk tale and myth with history. Read by Ian Holm

Episode 1: In the days before electric light and oil lamps most of England was troubled by spirit bears. But one village believed itself to be victim to an especially wicked gang and sought to find an answer.

Episode 2: The circus bears are deeply disgruntled at the extra risks being incorporated into their performance, and things come to a head at the annual circus convention in Bristol.

Episode 3: In the 19th century, under London’s streets, several bears are sorting the city’s effluent.

Every sewer bears the name of the street above!

The Ruling Class by Peter Barnes

bookshelves: summer-2014, film-only, britain-england, published-1972, under-50-ratings, mental-health, play-dramatisation

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Biblioklept
Recommended for: Laura, Wanda et al
Read from June 06 to 08, 2014


Full Film Here 2:23:13

A paranoid schizophrenic British nobleman who inherits a peerage. Barnes wrote the screenplay for EvA’s Enchanted April

Peter O’Toole – Jack Gurney, the 14th Earl of Gurney
Alastair Sim – Bishop Lampton
William Mervyn – Sir Charles
Coral Browne – Lady Claire Gurney
Michael Bryant – Dr. Herder
Harry Andrews – Ralph Gurney, the 13th Earl of Gurney
Carolyn Seymour – Grace Shelley
James Villiers – Dinsdale
Arthur Lowe – Tucker

Pigs Can Fly by Barry Cryer

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2003, nonfiction, amusing, britain-england, biography, fraudio, under-50-ratings, tbr-busting-2014

Read on May 08, 2014

 

Read by the man himself. 1 hr 14 mins

Description: Throughout his career, Barry Cryer has collaborated with all the greats, such as Max Miller, Tony Hancock, Bob Hope, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, John Cleese, Kenny Everett, Tommy Cooper, Spike Milligan, Morecambe and Wise, and more. He has also collaboratively penned series like Hello Cheeky!, toured with Willie Rushton in their show Two Old Farts in the Night, and is a panellist on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. This is his collection of completely true apocryphal stories from these 50 years, packed with jokes, fascinating asides, and riveting portraits of the major figures in comedy.

A string of anecdotes in the after-dinner-speech style. Ooopins of name-dropping and shedfuls of irreverent finger-pokes.

Enoch Soames by Max Beerbohm

bookshelves: books-about-books-and-book-shops, britain-england, doo-lally, e-book, library-in-norway, lit-crit, newtome-author, nutty-nuut, poetry, published-1916, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, time-slip, under-50-ratings, spring-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: ‘Three Brothers’ – Peter Ackroyd
Recommended for: Gerry
Read on April 18, 2014

 

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/760

Opening: When a book about the literature of the eighteen-nineties was given by Mr. Holbrook Jackson to the world, I looked eagerly in the index for Soames, Enoch. It was as I feared: he was not there. But everybody else was. Many writers whom I had quite forgotten, or remembered but faintly, lived again for me, they and their work, in Mr. Holbrook Jackson’s pages. The book was as thorough as it was brilliantly written. And thus the omission found by me was an all the deadlier record of poor Soames’s failure to impress himself on his decade.

A 48 page tale concerning Catholic diabolism

The Pursued by C.S. Forester

bookshelves: radio-4, spring-2014, published-1935, mystery-thriller, play-dramatisation, britain-england, bullies, casual-violence, lifestyles-deathstyles, ouch, revenge, under-50-ratings

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 15 to 20, 2014

 

Description: Most famous for his Hornblower series, C.S. Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction, portraying ordinary, desperate people committing monstrous acts, and showing events spiralling terribly, chillingly, out of control.

The Pursued is a dark tale of retribution.
When Marjorie finds Dorothy, her pretty young sister, lying dead with her head in the oven the obvious assumption is suicide. But the girl’s mother, Mrs Clair, a tough-minded woman is not convinced. She believes that Dorothy was murdered by Marjorie’s cheating husband Ted. Unable to prove her theory, Mrs Clair begins to cook up a secret, terrible revenge.

Dramatised by Paul Mendelson
Music composed by Gary C. Newman
Clarinet: Samantha Baldwin
Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

This from The Independent:

Cecil Louis Troughton Smith wrote this sleek crime novel under his famed pen name of C S Forester in 1935, but it got lost soon after he had finished writing it. He held onto the hope that it might one day be found and published, and wrote in his autobiography: “It is just possible that a typescript still exists, forgotten and gathering dust in a rarely used storeroom in Boston or Bloomsbury.”

Plain Murder by C.S. Forester

bookshelves: britain-england, fradio, lit-richer, london, mystery-thriller, play-dramatisation, published-1930, noir, radio-4, spring-2014, under-50-ratings, serial-killer

Recommended for: Laura
Read from April 10 to 13, 2014


Classic Serial

Description: Most famous for his Hornblower series, C.S. Forester wrote three seminal psychological thrillers at the start of his career that took crime writing in a new direction, portraying ordinary, desperate people committing monstrous acts, and showing events spiralling terribly, chillingly, out of control.

Plain Murder, set in 1928, takes us into a London advertising agency. Morris, Oldroyd and Reddy, have been caught taking bribes. One of their colleagues threatens to blow the whistle on them. Instant dismissal will inevitably be the result, and at a time of severe unemployment, their future prospects are bleak. Morris, a menacing bully, offers them a road out of their dilemma – a perfect murder, cleverly disguised as a tragic accident. But is there such a thing as the perfect murder?

Music composed by Gary C. Newman
Clarinet: Samantha Baldwin
Producer/director: David Ian Neville.

Catch it here

‘Isn’t it a story-teller’s job, like a crazed mechanic, to put a spanner in the works?’ Brilliant!

4* Plain Murder
3* The African Queen
3* The Good Shepherd
3* The Gun
3.5* Payment Deferred