Normally when I do the weekly #writephoto round-up, I give a little info about the image and its origins. I had a more important message to share this week so missed giving over the details but the wonderful Di, from Pensitivity noticed and prompted me for more info on the photo.
This remarkable plane is a WW2 Hudson plane replica statue situated at Silloth-on-Solway. It’s a beautiful statue and all the flowerbeds around it are stunning too. Built to commemorate the town’s involvement in WW2.
Tragically, a large number of Lockheed Hudson aircraft and their crews, who had crashed during take-off or approach to the wartime airfield of Silloth ended up in the Solway, resulting in it being renamed locally as ‘Hudson Bay’. A moving poem entitled ‘Hudson Bay’ was written by Tim Barker.
There is a wonderful website here – https://sillothairfield.wordpress.com/ which captures a lot about the history and people’s stories (with drawings, images, etc too). Well worth a browse and my applause goes to all involved, the stories area particularly is very moving.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars (more if they were available). Genre: Non-Fiction – History – Animal Welfare – Military – Mythology
📖 Wow! What a book. I bought this as an impulse buy after watching the highly enjoyable “Inside the Tower of London” tv series on Channel 5. I had googled a few facts and stories from the show and up popped this book in amongst my search and I decided to give it a go, I am pleased to say I was not disappointed.
✍️ Chris takes us through his life before the tower, at the tower and then of course the introduction to the ravens and their antics. The book is smart, funny and really insightful.
🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
According to Celtic legend, around here is also where the head of Bran the Blessed, the king of England in Welsh mythology, was buried. Bran means ‘raven’, and he’s supposed to have been buried not far from the ravens’ current enclosures, which seems appropriate.
👓 There are so many interesting tales in this book, but I particularly enjoyed all the myths and legends around both the tower and the ravens. I imagine Chris is a particularly interesting person to have a pint with, the stories he could rattle off!
👫 A lot of the stories are quite humorous where the clever ravens get up to some legendary Hijinx (occasionally at Chris’s expense). However, Chris also includes a chapter about the commemorative art installation for The First World War Centenary which saw the moat filled with thousands of poppies. I remember seeing this on the news at the time and it looked spectacular but reading Chris’s story regarding it choked up my throat and brought a tear to my eye! Bravo sir!
💭 Overall View: Hugely enjoyable book that would appeal to history readers, animal lovers, London tourists, military enthusiasts and so much more. Highly recommended. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
📖 I was unsure whether to write this review or not but I really enjoyed reading this book and thought I should share that. I love to learn about local histories. I do this a lot when I travel so when I came across this little book I was quite excited to see what was around the Tees Valley area.
👓 This book focuses more on the interesting objects to be found in the region instead of places themselves. The book is really interestingly laid out. Each object has a history about it, details on how to access it, brilliant photographs and then snippets of stories of it appearing in the press or writings (often historical articles).
✍️ There are so many great objects but here are a few of my favourites:
• Darlington yards and wynds – All these wynds have interesting names but there is one with a bull carving. This is said to be linked to the Bulmer family, who at one time owned the nearby Bull Inn. The hostelry was probably named after the mighty beast known as the Ketton (or Durham) Ox that was bred by the Colling brothers at the nearby hamlets of Ketton and Barmpton.
o Reading this story made me want to find out more about the Ketton Ox. The ox was bred in 1802 by Charles Colling of Ketton, near Darlington.
o The beast, weighing 34cwt and 11ft around the girth, was taken around the country and exhibited at fairs.
• The Hitching stone – A former editor of the Northern Echo, W.T.Stead, often used it to tether his pony after travelling to his nearby office from the family home at Grainey Hill Cottage, Hummersknott. In 1880, Mr Stead moved to London to become editor of the Pall Mall Gazette and was drowned in the Titanic disaster of 1912.
o Stead is such an interesting character, he was the first editor to employ women journalists, he campaigned to get the age of consent raised from 13 to 16, he was imprisoned and of course, as listed above, he died on the Titanic.
👫 I think the thing that I enjoyed most about this book is that it prompted me to want to know more and more (as can be seen in the two examples above).
🗺 Are there any curios in your town? If so, I’d love to hear about them. 😊
💭 Overall View: A brilliant little book with a fantastic collection of interesting tales. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
📖 Talking with Psychopaths and Savages: A Journey into the Evil Mind. It’s pretty easy to guess what this book is about. The title is straight to the point, unfortunately for me, the book was less so.
✍️Christopher Berry-Dee is quite an interesting author, he is (according to the intro) a direct descendent of Dr John Dee, astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I. He no doubt has a great legacy in interviewing the worlds most notorious serial killers and murderers. The book has an interesting premise, cool cover and showed a lot of promise. It also did have plenty of detailed content about a small number of murderers which fit a definition of ‘psychopath’.
When CBD actually gets into the content, he takes us through some really interesting cases such as JR Robinson, Kenneth Allen McDuff, Arthur Shawcross, Kenneth Bianchi and more. However, he doesn’t start reviewing the cases until page 73 in a 292-page book (that’s 25% of the book that doesn’t really include talking with psychopaths and savages)! That’s a lot of pre-reading before the reader gets what they came for.
🗣 CBD also has this habit of referring to his other works throughout the book. I found it incredibly frustrating and distracting from the current story. I lost count of the number of times he wrote something along the lines of:
‘I fully documented Ross in Dead Men Talking: The World’s Worst Killers in Their Own Words, first published in hardback by John Blake, 2009, but the book you are reading now is not so much about his life and crimes…
👓 These types of self-promotion are a regular occurrence throughout the book distracting from the actual topic. In my opinion, these should have been a footnote (or a bibliography) to allow the reader to look up later if they felt the desire.
I think part of the reason I found all the waffle and self-promotion frustrating is that the author also mentions (repeatedly throughout the book) how he has a tight word count by his publisher so cannot go into details he would like to.
💭 Overall View: I hate to give a negative review and I realise the content of this review is mostly negative. However, I truly appreciate there is a lot of work and research put into writing any book. This subject matter is not a pleasant one and I think kudos has to be given to anyone who managers to spend time with these individuals and trying to understand their mental state. Even more kudos in the instances the author has managed to convince the killers to reveal details of the crimes which has given the families some comfort they would likely not have had otherwise. In these areas the book is really good. Another reviewer wrote a quote that cannot be beaten when summarising this book:
You know those really annoying blokes down the pub who keep bragging about what they’ve done, and you so want to just tell them to piss off but you’re a little transfixed, so you buy them another pint then instantly regret it as they ramble on some more with just enough interesting stuff to keep you going? This book is like that. (Credit: Alyssa Cowell).
I’ve read Jon Ronson’s The psychopath test recently (my full review of that can be seen following the links below) and in my opinion, it’s a better read than this, although this one does contain many more individual cases. Ronson’s book is easier to digest and a bit more well-rounded. 👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.
Anti-Social is a diary showing the day to day aspects of being an AS officer. His insight into life with individuals (and families) with a variety of problems; crime, drugs, mental health issues, elderly, isolation, court cases, tenancy disputes and more.
I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:
14 September Not a good day. Tim calls our team and says he has serious concerns for the wellbeing of his neighbour, as well as the wellbeing of his own kids. Tim’s next door neighbour is Anne, who’s in her seventies and lives with her son Alex. And Tim worries that if something isn’t done soon, Alex is going to end up killing his mum. Tim tells me that Anne can be heard pleading with Alex to leave her alone and to get out of the flat. This is usually accompanied with thuds and crashes, and Alex screaming abuse at his mum.
This book is interesting, it thrusts you straight into the office of a community worker from the first page, showing sometimes the only things that will get you through the day are a dark sense of humour, prescription meds and copious amounts of alcohol and Nick doesn’t shy away from telling us those facts and the toll this job can take on your mental health. It feels like a truly honest reflection (the good, the bad and the ugly).
The author offers both compassion and empathy were needed but also doesn’t shy away from the nastier individuals he comes across. He offers genuine insight into the paperwork, the funding issues, the court cases and more. There were often times on a few of his more sensitive cases when it really hits you in the gut just how hard life is for some of the individuals involved in these cases. I would genuinely recommend this book. It’s the darker side of humanity with often the only lightness being the author’s wit. I feel anyone in the sector, particularly senior management level and above, MPs and probably the courts too, need to read this to better understand the individuals, the paperwork, and more. It’s probably the closest they will get to walking in another person’s shoes and it just might help make better-informed decisions and changes the sector needs.
I have read many books like this that give you insight into someone else’s profession (and life). Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels is a similar book with some equally thought-provoking scenarios for those interested in further reading.
Overall View: Brilliant, upsetting, challenging, funny, emotional and more. Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.