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Friday, July 13, 2018

Comic Cuts - 13 July 2018

Neither Mel nor I are particularly into football, but even we felt a bit of excitement when England scored that early goal. Shame it ended the way it did, but there's no point in recriminations... seriously, there's no point. The team did better than expected, got further into the competition than anyone expected and lost despite being (I thought) the better team on the night. That's just the way it goes, sometimes.

It Happened in Soho
I've spent the week doing more rewrites and juggling the contents of the fourth volume of Forgotten Authors. I started this project with the over-arching title of Fifty Forgotten Authors and, as the first three volumes contained 35 authors, I'm looking at including 15 writers this time around to bring the total to 50. I think I'm almost there, having tidied up three essays this week, one of them heavily expanded, and bumping two longer pieces, which can appear in a future volume. I should be able to reveal the contents next week.

The football and tennis has meant very little on the television. We usually have thirty or forty unwatched programmes sitting on the recorder, but with the completion of The Bridge and catching up on a couple of others we actually managed to get that number down to zero. We're still recording shows and trying to keep pace with things like Agents of SHIELD and watching returning shows like Who Do You Think You Are? (the Olivia Coleman episode was utterly delightful, thanks to her enthusiasm!) and The Last Leg (one of the best comedy shows on TV now that Taskmaster has finished).

The last show to be watched was It Happened In Soho, an old black & white movie from 1948 that I've had sitting there for a while. It was cheaply produced and not as good as I'd hoped, with a pretty lousy performance by Richard "Stinker" Murdoch as a newspaper journalist on the trail of a strangler in London's Soho district (I mentioned recently my fascination for films about newspapers and journalism). The brightest spot, oddly enough, was an appearance by Eunice Gayson, who died recently. She really lights up the screen in her brief appearances.

I've also finally reached the end of From the Earth to the Moon, a twenty-year-old HBO series by Tom Hanks that was made after the success of Apollo 13.  It hasn't taken the full twenty years to watch, but I've had the set on DVD for a few years now and only just gotten to it. Each of the twelve episodes covers an aspect of the Apollo mission, roughly one for each of the flights – from the tragedy of Apollo 1 to the flight of Apollo 7, the development of the LEM, the landing of Apollo 11, the near tragedy of Apollo 13 and the last few missions flown to almost zero public interest.

If you can get hold of a copy (mine was a gift from a friend) it's well worth it. Each episode tries to approach its subject from an interesting angle, so you learn about the extreme attention given to safety matters after a fire causes the deaths of the first Apollo astronauts, about the battle John Houbott had to convince NASA to land men on the Moon in a separate landing vehicle, and the stories of the wives of the "new nine" astronauts.

I grew up with the space programme at its height, from age seven to ten. It gave me an interest in space, astonomy and other sciences. When the space programme was scaled back, I had to turn to fiction and swapped my weekly Valiant for fortnightly Speed & Power at the age of eleven and, by twelve, was reading nothing but science fiction – thankfully at a time when there was plenty being published in the UK and I had access to the big library in Chelmsford and a great second-hand stall in the market where I started building my collection of paperbacks.

Happy days.

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