Monday, January 27, 2014

Teach Your Child To Be Handy by Guy R. Williams.

Teach Your Child To Be Handy by Guy R. Williams.  Hardcover book published by Pearson 1964, 94 pages with black and white illustrations and a few black and white photographs.


For some bizarre reasoning involving school holidays (Australia) and bored kids, I felt sure that this book would sell over the last few weeks*.  This week they (the kids) are all back at school and no longer in need of the handiness that this book would have provided any child in need of handiness.  Think about it.  There would be no more, “I’m bored. What can I do” with this book firmly placed in their little hands. 

“Teach Your Child To Be Handy will banish boredom and, with your help, encourage the mastery of a craft, the joy of working in close co-operation with a loved and trusted adult and the satisfaction of a new position of responsibility in the household. Work with gummed and coloured paper, modelling with Plasticine and wire-and-paper pulp, the preparation of Christmas cards, woodwork, mending china, replacing a broken cord in a window-frame, laying concrete…”

Yes, you can teach your child to lay concrete.  Obviously in 1964, this was the done thing.  If you needed concrete laying, you get a kid to do it… and that should stop them from ever complaining again about being bored during the holidays.  Sadly due to the age of this book there is no information on how to get better scores on computer games or how to get rid of computer viruses… but who cares at least you’ll have a nice concrete garden path.

So if you’re in need of some garden pathing and often have bored kids, then I suggest that this book is a possible manual for their next school holidays… and good luck.

*It didn't.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jean Appleton: A Lifetime with Art by Jean Appleton, Christine France, Deborah Edwards, David Moore, Mary Turner and Robyn Martin-Weber.

Jean Appleton: A Lifetime with Art by Jean Appleton, Christine France, Deborah Edwards, David Moore, Mary Turner and Robyn Martin-Weber. Hardcover book published by Caroline Simpson 1998, 160 pages with black and white and colour photographs and illustrations.

Australian Art is one of those subjects that most of us would like to know more about… and if you don’t want to know more about it, you wont be interested in this book…  In this the age of the information superhighway, it’s easy to find out about nearly everything and everybody... except, it would seem, Jean Appleton.  What sort of world is it when a reputable Australian artist such as Jean, with works in some of the major Australian Galleries, such as the Art Gallery of NSW, doesn’t get a mention in the fount of all knowledge*?  She does get a brief mention in the Australian Dictionary of Biography under the bios of William Dobell and Arthur James Murch, but that’s about it.  Google leads me to an art dealer website that does have a brief bio which quotes the book that I’m writing about here, and that’s pretty much all there is.  Despite being disappointed with the www, it’s sort of nice to know that not everything is on the internet.  Sometimes a book is the answer.  So who was Jean Appleton?    


Monday, January 20, 2014

A Man & His Meatballs: The Hilarious but True Story of a Self-Taught Chef and Restaurateur by John Lafemina.

A Man & His Meatballs: The Hilarious but True Story of a Self-Taught Chef and Restaurateur by John Lafemina.  Hardcover book published by Regan 2006, 225 pages with some sepia photographs and some colour photographs.

A meatball is a meatball is a meatball.  It’s not really something that I would ever have imagined as being life changing, but I have eaten a truly superior meatball that… well… changed my life.  It’s superiority over every other meatball that I had and have ever eaten, was evident after the first mouthful.  The details are a little blurry (it was a while ago) but I do remember it had a finer texture than I usually associate with meatballs.

The chef (he was/is a chef) is someone I wont write about other than to say that he had a few amazing dishes in his repertoire and that this particular dish was not something that he regularly cooked during the course of his kitchen duties.  I still consider myself very fortunate to have partaken in what is basically mince meat(?), with some stuff, rolled into a ball and cooked.

So I see a book entitled A Man & His Meatballs and I get it.  I get the passion, the love, the compulsion… the meatball in all it’s glory and splendour.  I understand why the author of this book, who as well as recounting his experiences as a novice chef and restaurateur, has included many fine recipes and has chosen to use the word meatball in the title.  This book is intended for me and anyone else who has ever experienced the true delight of the perfect ball of meat.  Mmmmmm. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rats: A Year with New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan.

Rats: A Year with New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan.  Paperback book published by Granta Books 2005, 243 pages.

Everyone has a rat story and if they don’t… well… they haven’t lived.  I guess that’s why my brain triggered when I saw this title.  I have encountered rats, not lovingly and not willingly, but rather in an accidental and ‘I’d rather not see that’ sort of way.  A book such as this is of interest in that the author has gone out of his way to track down, observe and study the rats of New York, something most of us wouldn’t want to do.  You may be surprised to read that I would rather see the Statue of Liberty, visit a few museums and soak in the ambience of one of the most iconic of cities in the world, than “spend(s) the year with a notebook and night vision goggles, hunting for fabled rat kings”* etc which is what the author of this book chose to do.  I guess if you’re going to do that sort of thing then New York is as good a place to do it as any other, if not better.

This isn’t the first time I’ve crossed paths with rat tourism.  On one of my visits to India many (many) years ago, I met two British men who were travelling around taking photos of dead rats preferably squashed on a road.  I thought it was bizarre then and I still think it’s more than a little strange now.  They had a whole photo album of them.  I think they were trying to be eccentric or funny… or ironic… or something.  The good thing about this New York rat book is that it goes to show that it’s not just the streets of India that have rats (squashed and unsquashed), they are everywhere.

Realistically and despite my reservations regarding rat tourism, I do like the idea of this book.  It caught my attention and it is something that I think would be an interesting read for anyone wanting to know more about rats… and New York.  Where do I get some night vision goggles?

*Publishers blurb

Sunday, January 12, 2014

P.G. Wodehouse: The Authorized Biography by Frances Donaldson.

P.G. Wodehouse: The Authorized Biography by Frances Donaldson.  Hardcover book published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1982, 399 pages with some black and white photographs and a few black and white illustrations. 

I have to admit, I am a fan.  It’s only been in the last 5 or 6 years that I have begun to savour the world of P.G. Wodehouse.  Strangely, I am also very aware that a younger me would not have appreciated his oeuvre at all.  I think it has something to do with getting older and wiser and it is this aged wisdom that has made me appreciate the sublimely ridiculous scenarios that Wodehouse unfolds.  Seriously, this guy is funny.  Wodehouse has been known to make me guffaw out loud in the midst of a silent read, which sadly, is something this reader hardly ever does.

Discovering Wodehouse was an awesome experience, particularly when I discovered how much he wrote over his short 93 years of scribbling.  Sadly, if I read a Wodehouse book a year for the rest of my life, I probably wont make it through his extensive back catalogue… Which is why I wont be reading this biography.  There’s too much Wodehouse out there to read and enjoy before I can get to a biography and besides I don’t know that knowing “the truth of the whole sad episode of his broadcasts from Germany during the war”*, is something that will enlighten my appreciation of the Wodehouse world…

…OK, maybe I do need to read a biography.

*From the publishers blurb.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Huc & Gabet and the WWW.

Finally after many years of not having a website to sell my wares, I now have one.  As I’m sure you’re aware, I’ve been selling on line for quite a while (10 years) and have had this blog for less of a while (3 ish years), but there has always been the nagging feeling that I need something to tie the whole lot together.  People have asked me during this time where I am on the interwebs and when I’ve started explaining that I’ve got some stuff on ebay, some stuff on Books and Collectibles and I have a blog, etc, people very quickly start to loose interest… which is a really bad thing when you’re a web based business.  A simple web address with some nice pictures, a menu with links to all my business activities is all that I’ve ever wanted.  Finance and a few other factors have hindered this development over the years and a recent gearbox replacement nearly hindered it once again, but with perseverance and the help, coffee, biscuits and cakes of the lovely people at WordsWorth communicating, I now have a website. 

This is a big deal for me and an achievement and if I was a motivational guru I would start waffling on about achieving goals, the big picture and personal development.  Fortunately, I’m not a motivational guru and I’m just happy to have a website that has some nice pictures and a few links.

It needs a little bit of fine tuning, but overall it’s up and running.  A couple of new things including a twitter account and an instagram account (…if you really want to, you can find them on the website) are included.  Both of these are due to promptings from WordsWorth communicating who whilst trying to make my life easier have gotten me begrudgingly to enlist and embrace these social medias. 

Anyway, have a look.  Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 by Keith Jeffery.

MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949 by Keith Jeffery.  Hardcover book published by Bloomsbury 2010, 810 pages with some black and white photographs.


A daunting brick of a book (810 pages), “MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service 1909-1949” is never the less an enticing history of one of the worlds top intelligence organizations.  It’s actually not a full history as it ends in 1949 which is not when intelligence ended (some of you may dispute this), but rather the point where all of the previous history is so old that it doesn’t matter who now knows what went on where and with whom.  The stuff after 1949 is still considered a little touchy, so the author didn’t/couldn’t (?) write about it.

Bond fans* will be pleased to know that both of the Flemings get a mention in the index… which is of course the first thing that I checked when I picked up the book.  Ian, Peters brother, is probably the writer who created and maintained some of the most enduring interest in spies and spying when he catapaulted James Bond upon the world and I’m fairly sure that it is readers of Bond and his ilk who will be interested in a book such as this.  Personally I’m more of a fan of the Bond films but I also have an interest in many of the other spy and spying films and TV shows that abound, of which none, or very few, ever touch upon the time period that this book covers.  Despite my preferences, an intelligence gathering read of early MI6 history does appeal to my sense of intrigue.

*James Bond, not the band.