Living on the Seabed

Living On The Seabed: A memoir of love, life and survival (2006) by Lindsay Nicholson guest reviewed by Corinna Buckley
 Rating: ★★★★★
Life rarely turns out as we planned. As my favourite ‘fridge magnet puts it: “Life is all about how you handle plan B”. Perhaps the greatest gift we may give our children is the love and emotional strength to weather the storms that will surely come. It was ‘Living on the Seabed’ that reminded me of this.

Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank?

Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? (1998) by Robin Gardiner

Rating: ★★★★★

‘The unthinkable about the unsinkable..(Oxford Times)

The comment made by the Oxford Times’ writer sums up the book nicely. Conspiracy theories don’t get more controversial than this. After reading the book, even if you cannot accept every conclusion, it was good to welcome a sideways look at a subject everyone seems to be an expert on, particularly as we near the centenary of this great maritime tragedy.

Olympic and Titanic, March 1912

One of the most controversial and complex theories is that the Titanic sinking was more than a tragic accident. It was put forward by Robin Gardiner in his book, Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? (1998).  Following on from The Riddle Of The Titanic(1995), co-authored with Dan Van Der Vat, the author includes more facts to support their theory of the switch perpetrated by the White Star line, and startling evidence of the possible collusion of the British Government in a cover-up. Gardiner draws on several events and coincidences that occurred in the months, days, and hours leading up to the sinking of the Titanic, and concludes that the ship that sank was in fact the Titanic’s sister-ship RMS Olympic, disguised as the Titanic. Continue reading Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank?

Cool Runnings (1994)

Cool Runnings [DVD] [1994]

Bobsledding is not exactly the first thing anyone would associate with Jamaica, but it’s precisely the unlikeliness of that combination that inspired “Cool Runnings”. The team was a novelty, and then they became a symbol of the Olympic spirit. Then they became a movie. But the four men of the first Jamaican bobsled team, the four men who went to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics having hardly seen snow, always wanted one thing.

We wanted most of all,” said Nelson Chris Stokes, “to compete. We were not jokes. We were athletes who wanted to test ourselves…some people wanted us to be a joke, but those who knew the sport and understood athletics understood how serious we were and what a great accomplishment we had.”

The film celebrates genuine sportsmanship, placing the emphasis back on how the game is played in the face of the winning-is-everything philosophy that permeates every aspect of contemporary life..
“Cool Runnings,” which takes its title from a Jamaican slang expression meaning “peaceful journey”, was inspired by actual events, but director Jon Turteltaub and his several writers have taken liberties so creatively that we’re left with the satisfying feeling that if the story didn’t exactly happen this way it should have. The people who originally conceived the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team were inspired by the islands pushcart racers, and then tried to recruit top track sprinters. However, they did not find any elite sprinters interested in competing, so instead recruited four sprinters from the army for the team. Irving Blitzer is a fictional character; the real team had several trainers, none of whom were connected to any cheating scandal. Arguably, the key moment in the film occurs at a quiet moment when Irv tells Derice that “If you’re not enough without a Gold Medal, you’re not enough with it.”

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Gold at Wolf’s Crag

Gold at Wolf’s Crag: An Inquiry into the Treasure of Fast Castle  (1971)  by Fred Douglas

Rating: ★★★★☆

Henry Bright (1814-1873)  Fast Castle from the Sea

Fast Castle is an isolated ruin on a rugged coast south of Edinburgh, north of Berwick. It might merit little obvious attention, but a closer look through the eyes of Fred Douglas was very rewarding. It seems the cache of gold (if it exists) is no nearer to being uncovered, but the trawl through the Scottish historical sources revealed much of interest.. Continue reading Gold at Wolf’s Crag

Out-Island Doctor by Evans W Cottman

Out-island doctor by Evans W Cottman (1963) guest reviewed by Rebecca Buckley

Rating: ★★★★★

Drawn initially to the book through a family connection with Abaco, an out-island in the Bahamas, for my parents married there, and my grandfather, like Evans W Cottman, was a doctor, and practised there for a few years in the mid 1980’s..

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The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran

The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran: The Essene Record of the Treasure of Akhenaten (2003) by Robert Feather
Rating: ★★★★★

The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran: The Essene Record of... Cover Art

Robert Feather’s background and training as a Metallurgist and Chartered Engineer has given him a unique insight into the intricacies of ‘The Copper Scroll’, one of the most enigmatic of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Qumran lies close to the Dead Sea at its northern end, some 40 km east of Jerusalem. Here, in an incredibly dry and sun-bleached area there is, strangely enough, no need for protective sun blocker, or life-guards. Lying some 1200 feet below sea level at the lowest point on earth, the damaging rays of the sun are screened out by the extra layer of atmosphere, and the concentration of salts in the Dead Sea is so high that anyone falling in immediately rises to the surface and like a cork, cannot sink.

But why is Qumran so important in historical and biblical terms?

Continue reading The Mystery of the Copper Scroll of Qumran

Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator

Rating: ★★★★★

The High Window: A Philip Marlowe Mystery by Raymond Chandler

`A long-limbed languorous type of showgirl blonde lay at her ease in one of the chairs, with her feet raised on a padded rest and a tall misted glass at her elbow, near a silver ice bucket and a Scotch bottle. She looked at us lazily as we came over the grass. From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away’..
The plot of ‘The High Window‘ maybe doesn’t matter. What matters is the writing and how good it is. Chandler’s characters are corrupt for more than one reason, and Marlowe finds out what some of those reasons are. Chandler provides a tense mystery with a strong element of menace and personal danger, all in the author’s trademark concise and witty style. The dialogue between Marlowe and the somewhat abrasive Mrs Murdock, in particular, makes the pages seem alive with bite and tension and it becomes clear she is the first in a line of characters trying to hide something from Marlowe, even while demanding his assistance. He’s less interested in finding out who stole the rare coin and who committed murder to cover it up, than why Mrs Murdock called him in the first place, and then why she is a widow. ‘The High Window‘ is written by Raymond Chandler, and he was one of the best writers ever to use modern American English. Few authors have written sentences as clear and descriptive as his. If  ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’ he has been amply flattered..

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India- A Portrait

India: A Portrait (2011) by Patrick French

Rating: ★★★★★

India: A Portrait gives a voice to a cross-section of India’s millions, and endeavours to understand the strands of the past through their story. It is a truism that even today, with the many opportunities available, that talented individuals can fail to achieve their potential. This may not be a unique problem for mankind, but for India, somehow what has been achieved, especially since Independence, gives a taste of possibilities yet uncovered.

With the proximity of Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and China, underlines India’s situation as critical to the tensions and interactions of current global politics. From this perspective alone, apart from the many human, cultural and other reasons, it behoves thoughtful people around the world to make efforts to understand this vast and vital nation.

India possesses a number of physiographic divisions. The northern mountains include the world-famous Himalayas with their snow-capped peaks of towering majesty. Here are found the sources of river systems such as the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The Great Plains lie south of the Himalayas, fanning out at both ends to include the fertile Ganges delta on the east and the semiarid desert of Rajasthan on the west. The course of the Ganges is one of the earth’s most fertile areas, but it is also the world’s second most densely populated river valley.

Stretching from the Arabian Sea on the west to the Bay of Bengal on the east is the peninsular plateau, known as the Deccan. The western edge is noted for its breath-taking grandeur, awe-inspiring peaks with cascading waterfalls streaming down timeworn channels. A panorama of precipitous valleys filled with a kaleidoscope of colour extends far into the distance. This western ridge feeds three important rivers, the Godavari, the Krishna and the Cauvery..

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Nutrition and Physical Degeneration

Dr. MercolaDr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site, You can learn the hazardous side effects of ‘over the counter’ remedies by getting a FREE copy of his latest special report The Dangers of Over the Counter Remedies by going to his Report Page

Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects (1939)by Dr Weston Price

Review by Dr. Stephen Byrnes

In the 1900s, Dr Weston A. Price, a dentist, did extensive research on the link between oral health and physical diseases. He was one of the major nutritional pioneers of all time, and his classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is full of wonderful pictures documenting the perfect teeth of the native tribes he visited who were still eating their traditional diets.

Your Diet May be Even More Important Than Your Toothbrush

In the quest for healthy teeth and gums, nothing may be more important than your diet. Dr Price found that the native people’s teeth were perfectly straight and white, with high dental arches and well-formed facial features. And there was something more astonishing: none of the people Price examined practiced any sort of dental hygiene — not one of his subjects had ever used a toothbrush!

Dr Price noticed some similarities between the native diets that allowed the people to thrive and maintain such healthy smiles. Among them:

  • The foods were natural, unprocessed, and organic (and contained no sugar except for the occasional bit of honey or maple syrup).
  • The people ate foods that grew in their native environment. In other words, they ate locally grown, seasonal foods.
  • Many of the cultures ate unpasteurized dairy products, and all of them ate fermented foods.
  • The people ate a significant portion of their food raw.
  • All of the cultures ate animal products, including animal fat and, often, full-fat butter and fatty meats.

If you, too, eat properly and maintain optimal health, you’re highly unlikely to develop cavities or other dental problems. They really only occur when you’re eating the wrong foods. So pay attention to your diet, as this is a key to keeping you safely out of the dentist’s chair — at least for visits that involve more than routine cleaning..

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Animal Farm

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (1945) by George Orwell

Rating: ★★★★★

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”                                                   

George Orwell (1903- 1950) was keenly aware of the injustices and poverty in Britain during the 1930’s. He knew that the class system meant many of the upper and middle class viewed the working class in terms not unlike animals.  In The Road to Wigan Pier he observed:  “The train bore me away, through the monstrous scenery of slag-heaps, chimneys, scrap-iron, foul canals, paths of cindery mud criss-crossed by the prints of clogs. As we moved slowly through the outskirts of the town we passed row after row of little grey slum houses running at right angles to the embankment. At the back of one of the houses a young woman was kneeling on the stones, poking a stick up the leaden waste-pipe which ran from the sink inside, and which I suppose was blocked. I had time to see everything about her- her sacking apron, her clumsy clogs, her arms reddened by the cold. She looked up as the train passed, and I was near enough to catch her eye. She had a round, pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery; and it wore, for the second in which I saw it, the most desolate, hopeless expression I have ever seen. It struck me then that we are mistaken when we say that ‘it isn’t the same for them as it would be for us’, and that people bred in the slums can imagine nothing but the slums. For what I saw in her face was not the ignorant suffering of an animal. She knew well enough what was happening to her- understood as well as I did how dreadful a destiny it was to be kneeling there in the bitter cold, on the slimy stones of a slum back-yard, poking a stick up a foul drain-pipe.”

The book Animal Farm’ is subtitled:  ‘A fairy story’ and George Orwell uses the fable in extended form to create a world at once unreal yet recognizable as an allegorical warning to contemporaries. Orwell draws a pessimistic picture of a Stalinist dictatorship sustained by an apathetic, ignorant, or a frightened populace with little choice but to support the rebellion. The satirical novel Nineteen Eighty-four , published in 1949, likewise painted a picture of dehumanized society under totalitarian rule..

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