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2 August 2012

paperback published Methuen, 1985.

back in the 1980s this appeared on NZ TV as a series. It was very funny in a laidback sort of way, warm, witty, and featuring very ‘ordinary people’. A few years later I found a copy of the book in a secondhand-books shop and pounced. I’ve just read it for around the 5th or 6th time and enjoyed it as much as ever. And there’s a very high number of books about which I can’t say that. (Last week I found a copy of the sequel, The Beiderbecke Tapes, and there was no question but that it too has gone onto my ‘books permanently kept’ shelves.)

These books are what I call ‘crime inconsequential.’ In other words, yes, there are often crimes involved, but they are mostly the mcguffin, what counts are the characters and the story about them. In Affair you have Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinborne, both teachers at a local high school in the Leeds area of England. They each have their own home but for much of the previous two years they’ve been having an affair based initially on Trevor providing Jill’s transport to and from school, and later on mutual tolerance of each other’s oddnesses. Trevor is a rabid jazz fan and when a gorgeous platinum blonde shows up on his doorstep, he’s fascinated by the rare jazz records she offers at a very low price. He isn’t at all pleased to find that when they arrive, they’re not jazz records. And when one of the other teachers complains to Trevor that the same gorgeous blonde sold him a faulty hedge trimmer, Trevor and Jill set out to track down the blonde, the missing jazz records, and a replacement hedge trimmer.

In the process they find Big Al, and his occasional brother, Little Norm. A ubiquitous man and his dog, Jason, crop up often, a couple of genuine brothers  wander in and out of the narrative – with their brotherhood being the only genuine thing about them – and then there’s the Oxford-educated policeman who hasn’t yet got the hang of the locals – and isn’t sure that he wants to because he finds them all extremely weird. They are. But they make me chuckle every time I read the book. And the TV series – which starred the brilliant James Bolam and Barbara Flynn – was almost as good as the book. This is the first in what appeared on TV as The Beiderbecke Trilogy, comprising The Beiderbecke Affair, The Beiderbecke Tapes, and The Beiderbecke Connection.

At the time I purchased the first book I wondered if this was a book of the play, or if the TV series had been made from the book.  After unearthing the second book (Tapes) at a bookarama last weekend I became more interested and started trawling websites to see what I could find on this. It seems that with Affair, the play was written first, and the book was written after that. With Tapes. it was the other way around. That was written as a novel then later done as the TV series, as was the third, Connection. And as a result the second and third books may differ a little from the TV series. However the three stories have been very popular hence you can buy all three  TV series singly on DVD, (or as a boxed set of the three, both ordinary and special edition) in print as books, and, as they were  broadcast on radio they may be available in audio format as well. In any incarnation I would recommend them. They have certainly always made me laugh. And if anyone has a spare or unwanted book copy of The Beiderbecke Connection I’d be interested…










I was rung by both our local newspaper and our regional one the other morning, both wanting to know the July rainfall total. (I’m the weather stringer for our village for both newspapers.) And as I’d just come in from studying the rain gauge I had the figures right there. This has been the wettest month since May 1989 when I started recording.  Another stringer who’s been doing weather records a lot longer says that it’s the wettest July in the past 60 years – and that doesn’t surprise me either. Farside has had 260mls over July (2012)  Average rainfall for a local July is around 90-120mls. Or around 160-165 on a wetter than usual July. So 260mls – or almost 10 and a half inches – for last month is startling. That’s over twice the average July and when in addition it’s been a wetter than usual last 12 months, I am just glad that being at 1400ft as we are, I don’t have to worry about the place flooding. However the sheep are starting to look waterlogged, Thunder is increasingly fed up, and even the geese have had enough. I wouldn’t mind if the rain had stopped at the end of July, but no, Wednesday night we had another 25mls (an inch) and today it’s still drizzling lightly with heavier rain forecast again tomorrow. If it doesn’t stop soon I think everything on the place, including Thunder and me, will go mouldy.

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