Book reviews: Simon Hoggart and Kevan Manwaring

Kevan Manwaring at a book-signing for Turning the Wheel in 2012
Kevan Manwaring at a book-signing for Turning the Wheel in 2012

Canon George Burgon reviews two books.

Northamptonshire Folk Tales, by Kevan Manwaring

I knew the author as a lad in my parish of Far Cotton.

He had a very artistic streak in him.

He went on to develop his gifts of story telling, history and writing.

Kevan is a successful writer, teacher and speaker. He now lives in Stroud, Gloucestershire.

This book is important to us who live in the county for various reasons.

We live in an area that is very rich in folk tales, legends and history but very often those who write upon these things don’t always do enough research about their subjects.

As a result those who come to make their homes among us and are keen to learn about their new neighbourhood do not always get the right facts, just as the locals do not always get the facts right!

This is a book for the lively lovers of local history who want to find out about the background, context and personalities of those gone before who have made their mark and the events that have shaped our nation.

Above all we all want to read book that entertains as well as informs and sometimes leaves us wondering about the complexities of human nature.

That us what good story telling is all about and Kevan does not disappoint us.

House of Fun: 20 Glorious Years in Parliament by Simon Hoggart

Simon Hoggart was a sketchwriter for the Guardian between 1993 and 2013.

He sadly died earlier this year.

A prolific writer, political observer and chairman of the BBC Radio 4 News Quiz, he was one of the sharpest and wittiest of all Parliamentary sketchwriters and one of the wisest.

This book is a collection of his observations about politicians in action both in and out of Parliament.

Here he uncovers all the frailities that make up our human nature.

His use of metaphors is priceless and no-one is spared his poisoned pen which is more often than not filled with the milk of human kindness.

A book to dip into when time permits and spirits are low.

As someone recently remarked about the late Tony Benn, “he loved making enemies and kept them!”

The same could be said for most policitians and members of the voting public.

This book is the strongest argument I have yet encountered for prayers to be said in Parliament.

If ever a lot needed that activity, it is this lot.

We are all fascinated by those we can’t stand or somehow meet with our approval, therefore this book has the perfect title!

The only local MP who gets a mention is Peter Bone of Wellingborough.

I think I would prefer that the readers finds out why for themselves!