The Rankin Files– The Hanging Garden

It is a very difficult thing to follow up an award winning novel with a worthy sequel. Very difficult. Usually, the writer psychologically thinks that now he can rest on his laurels a bit, and he does not put as much effort into the sequel as he might have done were he still striving to write a novel that would really put him on the map. If we were worrying about Ian Rankin falling into some kind of sophomore slump, we can forget about it--- entirely. This novel crackles with energy, pace, … [Read more...]

The Sauciness of Worcestershire

No this is not a little Swiss or German village with a clock tower. This is Ledbury where my friends the Keyes are going to retire. I'm not sure that you can get to Ledbury on a canal barge from Worcester, but there are hundreds of such barges on the canals in the area. Below we have a picture of my friend Tim Keyes and his dog Tom by the barge parking lot in Worcester.Worcester has a certain holiday or saucy feel to it, when you see all these people living on barges, at least in the … [Read more...]

The Churches of Ledbury and Worcester

Churches are often structures that are built, or added onto over the period of hundreds or even a thousand years. What you see above is the door to the Ledbury Cathedral, and notice it has an arch that is apparently meant to look like a Norman arch (think Durham). When you go inside this cathedral you find a variety of things.For example, you discover the church was originally much smaller than it is now, because you find a gargoyle on a column on the right side aisle. Gargoyles were … [Read more...]

The Shire of Worcester and Ledbury

While neither Worcester or Ledbury are timberbeam cities in the way Chester is, there are nonetheless various excellent examples of that sort of architecture in the two cities involves in this post. Above you see the old rectifying house. Now you might think this was a place where sinners received their correction, but actually it has to do with beer and its processing!From Ledbury we find a very interesting Boots the chemist (i.e. pharmacy) set in such a timberbeam structure. … [Read more...]

Lindisfarne Liturgy

LINDISFARNE LITURGYWas it ever thus, then and there So no one need ask who, when and where The stones themselves cried out With the metal bells That God was in his heaven Though some were in their hells…Did it seem quite fixed, fashioned, formed So few would dare to query, quibble, quit The pilgrimage well-trodden Up the Dun Cow Lane To Cuthbert’s choired cathedral Saints sung the same refrain…From holy isle, aisle, I’ll Never look away, askance, above The coffin that so … [Read more...]

Worcester Cathedral—-The Inside View

Worcester Cathedral may not be on the 'great cathedrals of England tour', but it is a special place. As you can see by the picture above, it is on the banks of the Severn River, much like Durham Cathedral is on the banks of the Wear. But Worcester Cathedral rests on a much more flat plain than does Durham, and it is not part of a Castle and Cathedral walled complex. One of the nice features one notices on entering the cathedral is the decorated gate or side door of the … [Read more...]

The Durham Chronicles— the Times They are a Changing

I was sitting in the lobby of John's College reading the Times, not to be confused with the NY Times. No, this is just the Times. But even that Times has been changing. There are two immediately noticeable changes: 1) the format has gone magazine style on some days, and 2) there are actually color pictures and color graphics instead of just endless black and white words-- (shock---- what is the world coming to?) The picture above gives you a sense of the transitional phase, but the picture … [Read more...]

The Rankin Files— the Award Winning Black and Blue

The novel which more than any other made Ian Rankin’s reputation was Black and Blue. It won the CWA Macallan Gold Dagger award for best crime fiction, and probably was the main thing that prompted the attempts to bring his novels to TV… not just once, but twice in the U.K. There is a reason of course why these novels do not translate so well to the North American scene. It is because, though they are clearly written, even telegraphically so at points, they nonetheless involve Scottish cul … [Read more...]

Fast and Furious 6—- London Calling

Fast cars, car chases, smooth criminals. It sounds like the material for a Michael Jackson song and video. Only this is now the sixth blockbuster car flick in the franchise of F+F and this one is mostly set in Europe--- Moscow, Spain, and primarily in London. Like the Bond franchises this series of movies thrives on visually stunning or exotic locations. Not to mention visually stunning and exotic humans of various species. And lest this movie does not finally whet your appetite for such … [Read more...]