Thursday, 23 December 2010

Back to the Seventies Once Again

Let`s get into our time machine and go back to the `70s once again !

Yes, it was a groovy time to be young and fab in London`s West End, particularly if you happened to work for Purnell, who you may recall brought us Top Pop Scene (this blog, 16 December 2010).

Rather less long-lived was sister publication Girl ! Girl ! Girl ! , which brought it`s young readership "Fabulous Features on Fashion, Pop Stars, Astrology, Boutiques, Beauty and Boys" plus much, much more.

As with Top Pop Scene, one detects a slight Reithian streak, a determination that it`s young readers should be encouraged to be more culturally adventurous, however much they themselves may have wanted to immerse themselves in a world of fickle fashion.

Thus, while our budding `70s girls are asked to address themselves to a number of semi-rhetorical questions ("So You Want to be Model ?" ,  "Are you Ready to go Steady ?") and to respond in some way to a variety of exhortations characterised by the over-use of exclamation marks ("Boys ! Boys ! Boys !", "Swing into Style !", "It`s Fun to Run a Party !"), they are also advised to consider the musical accomplishments of Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull`s Ian Anderson and others. Perhaps the publishers took themselves a bit seriously, but it`s quite endearing really.

I was not female in the `70s, or at any other time, so the finer points of this splendid seventies publication may be lost on me, but it  does make a fascinating period piece. I would be  interested to know whether the Derek Long who contributed two short stories to this august publication is the freelance writer who wrote `The Mystery of the Italian Ruins` for Amalgamated / Fleetway some years earlier, though I suppose it`s unlikely.

As far as I know, this was the first Girl ! Girl ! Girl ! annual. Others appeared for a few years and after that it apparently ceased to be produced. 

This peerless piece of popular culture can be found at  3770 in our listings.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Aldous Huxley - Science, Liberty and Peace - Chatto and Windus - 1947 (First Edition)

In the aftermath of World War Two, many of the assumptions made by people in the western world at the time had taken a knock.

Prior to the war, there had been a belief, fairly widespread, in the civilising value of culture. As the atrocities committed by the Nazis, many of their leaders highly cultured men, came to the public`s attention, that belief was no longer viable.

At the same time, while the Allied forces had (eventually) brought  Russian communism into an alliance with the capitalist UK and USA in a common fight against fascism, few were persuaded to embrace the Communist cause and only a handful of Communists were ever elected to the UK Parliament.

Many prominent thinkers of the time were moved to put pen to paper as they considered the implications of the situation. Among them were three of the Huxleys ; Julian, T H and Aldous. Aldous` contribution came in the form of this book, Science, Liberty and Peace. 

Aldous is probably best known as a novelist and writer of short stories and screenplays, but in fact he wrote widely in a number of different genres including non-fiction on a variety of subjects. Science, Liberty and Peace may sound on the face of it like some sort of `30s Marxist tract, but in fact it advocates a political philosophy of decentralisation as a `third way` avoiding the pitfalls of monopoly power of whatever sort.

Huxley`s interest in Eastern philosophies, his advocacy of psychedelic drug use and his tendency to collect `-ists and -isms` (at various times he embraced humanism, pacifism, Hinduism, mysticism, vegetarianism, parapsychology, the Alexander technique and much else) can make him seem rather an odd and anachronistic character. This book is in part influenced by an American group called the Decentralists who, perhaps sadly, seem to be largely forgotten now, but who Huxley name-checks a few times. At a time when the more progressive-minded in the UK, whether  left, right, centre or green, are looking into the implications of decentralisation, maybe his ideas are worth a second look.

This book will be at number 3761 in our listings and should appear online in a day or two. Any questions, just ask.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Original Robin Hood

3760 - John Sheffield - The Original Robin Hood - Privately Published by the Author, Nottingham, 1986

This title by John Sheffield was originally published in 1982 by Sheffield and Broad ( possibly he was the `Sheffield` in that partnership ?). This edition, which has a few minor amendments when compared to the original, was privately published by the author in 1986 and I believe was re-issued a few times thereafter.

As regards the great Notts/Yorks rivalry, Mr Sheffield is a firm believer that the character of Robin had his origins in Yorkshire, and backs this up with what appear to be impressive arguments. He is at pains to point out that these stories were part of an evolving tradition and drew on various pre-existing stories from the outset.

You may like this booklet for the author`s scholarship. You may want to read the stories. You may be a fan of folk tales, or of the Robin Hood myth. However that may be, this is an interesting and unusual booklet that would be a worthy addition to anyone`s book collection.

The book will appear in our listings at number 3760, and should show up online within a day or two.

Any questions, just ask.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Travelling Through Time With Top Pop Scene

Let`s travel back in time with Top Pop Scene annual and re-live the heady days of the `70s rock, pop and soul scene.

That era seems to have acquired a reputation for badly-dressed rock bods playing enormously long, enormously dull live sets at massive venues. I`m more of a jazz and blues buff myself, but even I know that the `70s rock and pop was actually extremely varied in style and content.

This annual rather makes the point, with articles about artists as far apart as Peter Skellern, Yes, David Cassidy, Junior Campbell, The Who, Lynsey de Paul, The Osmonds, Roxy Music, the Temptations  and Osibisa (twenty bands are featured in all). 

It is, of course, desperately retro, but nothing wrong with that.

For full details, see the description at 3759 in our listings.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

"Your Faithful Servant" - Admiral Blake and the English Civil War

We`ve already touched briefly on the English Civil War a couple of times*, but that needn`t stop us returning to the subject.

A recent addition to our stock is Your Faithful Servant, described as containing "insights into the life of the Cromwellian Navy from the letters, despatches and orders of Robert Blake, General at Sea". (The term `General at Sea` is a new one to me - did they have `Admirals on Land` ?)

The book is published by the Admiral Blake Museum at Bridgwater. The authorship is generally attributed to D J Sebborn (sometimes David Sebborn), but while his name does appear, this is not made entirely clear in the copy we have.

The English Civil War is an interesting period in history and well worth looking into. We`re happy to be able to offer two or three very affordable introductions to the subject**. As ever, use the links provided to search our stock.

* See `Colonel John Hutchinson and the Civil War in Nottingham`, Bookshelves and Brown Ale, 2 November 2010 and `George Courtauld, John Hutchinson...`, this blog 2 November 2010.

** Other items in our stock with a Civil War connection are ;

1883) Young - An Illustrated History of the Great Civil War 1642-1648 (Spurbooks)
2552) Plowden - The Women All on Fire (Sutton)
3697) Brown - A Guide to the Civil War in Nottinghamshire (Notts County Council)
3698) Unknown - The Civil War 1642-51  (Pitkin)

Monday, 6 December 2010

Ospreys of Lakeland and Loch

I believe Ospreys spend winter abroad, which just goes to show there is much we can learn from our feathered friends !

While we await their return, these two attractive and informative booklets may be of interest ; 



3712 is an RSPB booklet - we have one or two RSPB publications in our current listings I believe - whereas 3730 is published by the author`s own company, P3 Publications.

For more details, use the links provided. Cheers.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

L P Harvey - Islamic Spain 1250 - 1500 - University of Chicago - 1990 - First Edition

Now retired, L P Harvey is a noted expert on Middle Eastern Studies and has been Head of the Department of Spanish and Spanish American Studies, King`s College,  London ; Cervantes Professor of Spanish at King`s College, London and Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

His  published works include Islamic Spain 1250 - 1500, Muslims in Spain 1500 - 1614 and Makers of Islamic Civilization ; Ibn Battuta.

At 3704 in our listings you will find a first edition copy of Islamic Spain 1250 - 1500.

While softcover copies are relatively easily available, hardbacks in general and the first edition in particular are less easy to obtain. Opinions of the value of this book vary wildly. However, taking into account a variety of factors, including the economic climate, we`ve opted for what we believe to be a fair and reasonable price, all things considered.

For a full description and details of price. postage etc, please see our listing using the links provided. To aid you in your cogitations, here are some pictures of the book in question.

As always, if you have any questions, just ask !

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

George Courtauld, John Hutchinson, Sir Edward Verney, Mrs Anne Staunton, Ian Brown and John Bunyan

George Courtauld, author/compiler of The Pocket Book of Patriotism (you`ll find a copy at 3481 in our listings), believes that the English are woefully ignorant of their own history. Up to a point I agree with him, but I do wonder if it depends what aspect of that history you have  in mind - the continuing popularity of books, events and societies connected with the local/regional history of a particular area indicates to me that people perhaps just approach the subject differently now. Different approaches to history need not be mutually exclusive of course !

Specially for history buffs, here are a few facts concerning the English Civil War ; 

1) John  Bunyan, author of Pilgrim`s Progress and others, was a soldier in the Parliamentary cause. I assume that`s the reason why so many editions of his books feature illustrations of the characters in Civil War-era clothing.

2) Sir Edward Verney, the King`s Standard Bearer, told one of the King`s advisers that he was not happy with the way his monarch behaved ("I do heartily wish the King would yield"), but felt tied to the King by bonds of loyalty ("I will not...forsake him"). He indicated that his true beliefs were not in keeping with the King`s philosophy, and that he regarded death as a way out of this conflict of loyalties and  would "choose rather to lose my life...than to preserve and defend those things which are against my conscience". In the event, he refused to put on protective armour before riding into battle at Edgehill carrying the King`s Standard. He died still clutching the flag.

3) An equally brave and principled man, but on the Parliamentary side, was Colonel John Hutchinson, variously MP for Nottingham, Governor of Nottngham Castle, JP for Owthorpe in Notts  and later Sheriff of Nottingham. Nick`s article `Colonel John Hutchinson and the Civil War in Nottingham` can be found online at Bookshelves and Brown Ale.

4) When Parliamentary forces attacked Staunton Hall in Notts, they met stiff resistance from Mrs Staunton and "a group of twenty servants and others too unfit for the military" ! Eventually, the redoubtable Mrs Staunton gave up the fight and made her escape along the Great North Road. After the war, she was allowed to return "without any molestation" . Her husband was fined "for bearing arms for the King", but his fine was later halved as compensation for vandalism and theft by Roundhead soldiers after the unequal battle.

These few facts bring us neatly to a couple of forthcoming additions to our stock ;

Ian Brown* - A Guide to the Civil War in Nottinghamshire (Nottinghamshire County Council, 1992)

Unknown - The Civil War 1642 - 1651 ; A Pitkin Guide (Pitkin Pictorials, 1993)

We are temporarily off-line , but these two will appear at numbers 3697 and 3698 in our listings in the not-too-distant future.

Any queries, just drop us an e-mail and we`ll get back to you ASAP.

* other titles by Ian Brown also available.

Monday, 27 September 2010

N S Thompson at Beeston International Poetry Festival

N S Thompson, a lad with long-standing literary leanings, makes a rare Midlands appearance during the Beeston International Poetry Festival.

Thompson will appear at the Flying Goose Cafe as part of an evening devoted to writers published by Smokestack Books on Tuesday 19 October 2010.

Further details from Smokestack Books via their website or from John Lucas via the Shoestring Press website.

This is the first year of the BIPF, which will run from 16 - 28 October 2010 and will feature a wide range of poets, including Mahendra Solanki, Cathy Grindrod and Wayne Burrows.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Frank Hauser (poet), Peter MacKarell (illustrator) - Dinosaur Days - The Whittington Press - November 1975 - Limited Edition

I`m told Frank Hauser was for many years Director of Oxford Playhouse. More importantly, though, he wrote poems about dinosaurs !

This copy was part of a limited print run of 500 copies printed for Heal`s Books and Prints by The Whittington Press (there was a subsequent edition in 1976 which produced rather more copies).


As you`ll see, Peter MacKarell`s illustrations complement the poems excellently and expeditiously (if that`s the word I want).

Anyhow, as i often say, the best way to sell poetry is to provide a sample quote. This is my personal favourite ;

"Rest in peace, my dinosaur, rest your giant bones /  All too soon the men will come with cars and telephones / All too soon they`ll stumble on psychology and wars / All too late they`ll hamker for the days of dinosaurs."

Says it all, really ! Here`s another picture ;

This is number 3573 in our listings. As ever, a full description plus price and postage details can be found online and the `Buy Book` links alongside this blog are there to help you search our stock.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Yaffle and Flambo

Who were Yaffle and Flambo ? That`s the question we ask ourselves.

At present, all we can tell you is that the pseudonymous `Yaffle` was the author of Foiling the Reds, a satirical play of the `20s published by the now defunct Labour Publishing Company, and that `Flambo` was his equally pseudonymous illustrator.

The Labour Publishing Company was the brainchild of G D H Cole. You may know Cole as a Guild Socialist and associate of George Bernard Shaw and the Webbs. You may know him, as I do, as  the author of a number of detective stories, often written jointly with his wife. Lastly, and I`ve saved the best for last, you may know him as having been immortalised by Oliver Postgate in the form of  the cantankerous woodpecker  Professor Yaffle in the children`s TV series Bagpuss ! 

Sadly, there seems to be no evidence that G D H `Professor Yaffle` Cole was the same person as Yaffle the playwright, and I would think it`s unlikely the notoriously humourless Cole would have been the creator of such characters as Sir Ezekiel McQuinkerdook or the vampish Lola.

In truth, if this book was not fairly collectable now, we would never have considered stocking this particular  copy. As you`ll see from the pictures below, the cover, and particularly the spine, have seen better days. However, it is rare and still sought after by collectors, who may well jump at the chance to acquire a reasonably priced copy even if it is not perfect. I must admit, though, that  our decision to stock the copy offered to us was heavily influenced by the volume`s excellent illustrations, all by the mysterious `Flambo`, and all very much in the `20s style.

Anyway, that`s enough talk from me, here are some images for your delight and delectation !