The New Saturday Review 7
The purpose of this is to give general reviews – not detailed – in order to encourage (or in some cases discourage!) your reading, viewing and listening. After each review I give a mark in terms of the value, beauty and worthwhileness.
Ten Pound Poms –
As a £10,000 Scot in Oz it was interesting to see how Stan would dramatize the £10 poms in their latest mini-series. Given that it was co-funded by the BBC I’m sure it will make its way to the UK soon. I’ve actually come across a few £10 poms and their descendants. The series is recognisably filmed in and around Sydney – and directed by the Scot, Jaimie Magnus Stone – who some of you will know as the son of Sally Magnusson and Norman Stone – and the grandson of Magnus Magnusson.
It takes place in the late 1950’s and is essentially a drama about some of the people who came out from the UK to Australia under the Ten Pound Poms scheme. I won’t spoil it for you by telling the whole story – but suffice it to say that paradise is not what is seems and comes at a price. The acting is excellent – the characterisation good – and the cinematography superb.
But it is not a series that goes onto the rewatch list. The plot was more than a little predictable and I thought the characterisation was a little shallow. We had all the usual stereotypes – including baffled Brits, racist Aussies, kind indigenous people, lecherous bureaucrats, newly empowered women and of course no drama would be complete without an evil Catholic priest! Nonetheless as a piece of historical drama this gets a lot right and is worth watching. 6/10
Tourists Lucy Lethbridge.
I bought this book thanks to The Rest is History podcast. It is a fascinating work of social history and, like all good works of history, helps us understand our society today. Lucy Lethbridge takes a look at the development of modern tourism. It is well written and full of fascinating details. As with so many modern good things evangelical Christians played a key part – not least Thomas Cook, the working-class Strict Baptist who first opened up mass tourism for ordinary people. 8/10
Though Cook clearly had an acute business sense, the profit motive was not his main one; he was driven primarily by temperance zeal: ‘The thought flashed through my brain, what a glorious thing it would be if the newly developed powers of railways and locomotion could be subservient to the promotion of temperance.’41 With brass bands and fun outings, Cook aimed to persuade people that ‘leisure’ – an absence of work as yet not officially formalised need not inevitably involve the public house. Although a Cook’s tour lost its explicitly temperance connotations early on, Cook himself often let Baptist or temperance passengers travel at reduced rates. Location: 499
The working-class travel clubs which proliferated in the second half of the nineteenth century were often both politically radical and socially conservative.
Roy Hattersley has observed that it was televisions, washing machines and continental holidays that helped to ‘blur the boundaries of class struggle’: the domestic world was transformed by labour-saving technology and the idea of labour itself was changed by the idea of leisure, once a privilege and now considered a right.
The prevailing paradox of tourism is that it so often destroys what it seeks. This book has shown how tourism can preserve cultures and landscapes; but it also flattens and contains them beneath the standardisation that the tourist business demands.
I Kid You Not – Lyle Shelton
The best summary of this book is from Amazon “Lyle Shelton takes readers on a rare behind-the-scenes tour of culture wars. “I Kid You Not”, is because the Left has gotten away with things most Australians would find incredible, if only they knew. Before #MeToo, Shelton fought the legalised sexual abuse of young women. On human rights for the unborn, his revelations of politicians turning a blind eye to the evil of eugenics is shocking. He details the bombing of the Australian Christian Lobby’s office and its poor handling by the Australian Federal Police. Chapters on “Safe Schools” and the 2017 marriage plebiscite are a sad tale of what could have been. Shelton ends with a compelling call for good people to rise and pay the price for a better future.”
The subtitle of this book is “Notes from 20 Years in the Trenches of the Culture Wars”. I’ve met Lyle. He is one of the most misunderstood and maligned politicians in Australia – sadly far too many Christians have shared in that ignorance. I would strongly recommend that every Christian interested in public life (especially in Australia) should read this book – especially those who speak somewhat contemptuously of people involved in ‘the culture wars’. I have to confess that I may have shared their viewpoint to some degree. That was already beginning to change before I read I Kid You Not – but any vestiges I had of that viewpoint were blown away by reading this remarkable story. It’s 15 chapters are enlightening, encouraging and enlivening. I hope to write a fuller review article. 8/10
Robert Frost – Selected Poems
I have the Folio edition. Frost is an American poet, best known for his poem The Road not Taken. I have enjoyed reading these poems – not quite with the delight I read John Donne, Milton, Keats or Elizabeth Barrett Browning – but they were, as all poetry should be, a pleasure. I found that the longer poems were more difficult, but the shorter ones tended to be stimulating and beautiful. Here is an example. 7/10
The Night Light.
She always had to burn a light
Beside her attic bed at night.
It gave bad dreams and broken sleep,
But helped the Lord her soul to keep.
Good gloom on her was thrown away.
It is on me by night or day,
Who have as I suppose, ahead
The darkest of it still to dread.
Film – The Big Short –
You would think that any film which includes Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt would be worth watching. You would be right. But not just because of them – though all produce excellent performances – especially Christian Bale. It’s a superb firm because it explains clearly how the financial crash of 2007/8 happened. It’s a disturbing picture – not least because it is substantially true. So much of our financial empires are built on sand. This is what capitalism without Christ leads to. Although it is a 2015 film it is still available on Netflix. Highly recommended. 8/10
This clip really helped me understand what went wrong in 2008. (advisory – like the film it contains swearing).
The Smith Lecture –
This week I attended this year’s Smith Lecture. Every year I try to attend the Smith lecture, an annual event to honour the memory of Bruce Smith – a great Sydney Anglican. You can get some of the previous lectures here – https://thirdspace.org.au/city/sydney/activity/smith-lecture
This years was on the theme of “The race for change? – a case for repentance”. Although at times it was interesting and stimulating, overall, it was one of the most disappointing nights I have had for a long time. Rather than say anything more just now I am in the process of writing a full review. 3/10
Music – Goldfinch – You are Light.
I used this on the latest Quantum. Clive Parnell and Goldfinch are producing a series of five songs based on the Song of Solomon. This is their debut single which has already been played on BBC Radio Scotland. Enjoy – support and spread the good news. 7/10
See you next week.