Book Tv Film Et Al

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

BOOK, TV, FILM et al

Date: 28th January 2011


SPITFIRE WOMEN of World War 11

Have just finished reading this excellent book by Giles Whittell – written from the perspective of a generalist and not an ‘aviation specialist’. This is probably why the book is so readable. You don’t have to be interested in flying to appreciate the ‘guts’ of these remarkable women – British, American, Polish etc. who flew and delivered Spitfires, Hurricanes etc. all over the British Isles. They flew without any armaments and with no Aviation Aids – sometimes achieving the well-nigh impossible flying in conditions many men – with instruments in the cockpit – didn’t attempt.

It was a great read but the one thing which shocked me was the ‘Bitchiness’ and ‘Competition’ between so many of the women of the ATA – you’d have thought that, in the interests of fighting the enemy and survival, one-upmanship etc would have been on the back-burner.

FIRST LIGHT by Geoffrey Wellum

I know I mentioned this some time ago but just to say that this book too is an excellent read, and though slightly more technical than Spitfire Women, Wellum – who was a War Ace by the time he was 19 – also conveys a colourful depiction of life during the war.

Sand in my Shoes by Joan Rice

Joan (mother of Sir Tim Rice!) wrote diaries of her time in the WAAF during WW11. For some reason, I’m not finding it an easy read in that it is rather too fragmented for my liking. I might go back to it at some time in the future but I think I might read something else now. I rarely give up on a book – I think the last time was ‘Love is a Many Splendoured Thing’ which, though it translated into a lovely film, was a very dry read and not that enjoyable.

TELEVISION – Good and downright awful

On Saturday, watched an old episode of ‘Dad’s Army’ and thoroughly enjoyed it – it was good clean fun. This was followed by ‘The Return of ‘Allo ‘Allo’ – a documentary featuring a one-off episode interspersed with a look back at the series. I have to say that I never watched it when it originally transmitted – maybe I was working. However, I’m very sorry now that I didn’t view the series. Again, good clean fun with multiple ‘double entendres’ and very funny without all the smut and swear words which appear to be a prerequisite for today’s comedians. (Please don’t think I’m an old fuddy duddy and I do sometimes use swear words and don’t like myself for it but I find it embarrassing the way so much of today’s comedy and ordinary conversation is totally littered with the ‘F’ word)

‘Allo Allo’ was highly entertaining as well as an interesting look at the characters who starred in the show. Sadly, there were several faces missing from the line up at the end. There was a live audience for the show and that added to the enjoyment when they cheered as their favourite characters entered the stage.

And finally I understand the 'Klup ' uttered by Sam Kelly as General Geering as he made the Hitler salute. I was in Panto with Sam decades ago and that was one of the Panto jokes. I didn't like to show my ignorance of an incredibly popular show so never asked what it signified. Everything comes to he/she who waits!!

And a week later there was a retrospective on 'Are you Being Served' - another resounding success despite the BBC's reluctance to proceed further than the pilot programme.  All wonderfully good clean fun and full of the trademark 'double entendres'.  There were interviews with some of the surviving stars of the show and some very sad gaps - Wendy Richard (whom I met shortly before she died and what a lovely woman she was), Mollie Sugden and John Inman to mention a few.

From the sublime to the absolutely abysmally ‘Awful’ – The Tudors. Anyone who reads my blogs knows how much I enjoy History. I didn’t see the original ‘Tudors’ but thought I’d give the new series an airing. What a load of absolute ‘tosh’ – talk about dumbing down. In actual life, by the time Henry V111 romanced Katherine Howard he was relatively ‘old’ at the age of 49 and had grown fat. He was no longer the handsome, fit, and very desirable man he’d been when he came to the throne. Katherine was indeed only a teenager and the marriage was obviously one of ‘convenience’ for her family but why Henry was portrayed as a handsome man of about 30 heaven alone knows. Due to the fact that cast lists are either pushed to the side of the screen and are unreadable because the print is too small or run up the screen so fast you still can’t read them, I don’t know who was the incredibly handsome young man who played Henry nor the pretty actress who played Katherine as a total nymphomaniac.

I felt the programme was like an historical ‘soap’ – needless to say it’s not on my further viewing list



Friends invited me to go with them last Sunday to see the film.  What an absolute treat and it showed Colin Firth to be an enormously versatile actor.  Having seen him in the Bridget Jones films and Mama Mia, I'd never have suspected that he could be so outstandingly good in such a demanding part.  What I mean is that, though I thoroughly enjoyed his performances in the afore-mentioned films, they didn't really stretch him in the way King's Speech has done.  He deserves all the accolades he's getting and I do hope the Oscars Panel are not 'small minded' enough to vote against him because George V1 was whispered  to be Anti-Semitic.  Personally, I don't think he was - it's more likely that our Government in a spirit of appeasement and wishing to avoid a War, didn't do enough, soon enough, to aid the Jews in Hitler's Germany.  (The Representative by Rolf Hochhuth is an excellent play about how  Pope Pope Pius XII was accused of  criminal non-intervention in the Nazis' extermination of the Jews although, apparently, he was helping them in secret)  The point of The King's Speech  is that this man - forget that he was a King - was so high profile and triumped over his stammer and that should be an encouragement to so many of the stammerers of the world.

His co-star - Geoffrey Rush - was also superb and brief though her part was, I very much enjoyed Claire Bloom as the Dowager Queen Mother.  Although she was also very good, I wasn't moved by the interpretation put on the role of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother by Helena Bonham Carter but that is only a subjective opinion.  

Do make a date to see this superb film.

This weekend, I am putting aside an hour or so to upload photos into the Gallery which I hope will be of interest for you.


Bye for now,  Jan

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