Travels in Middle England – 12 February 2016

May 17, 2016

Leicester is a wonderful place to visit.  The people there are extremely friendly and helpful.  The discovery of Richard III’s body has put the city on the international tourist map and now the city’s football team has won the English Premier League.  Some have put it down to the good fortune bestowed on the city following the King’s reburial.  I visited the city on 12th February this year when the football team, comprised of home grown players, football league rejects and lowly priced players, topped the Premiership but no one expected them to remain there.  I meant to write this blog then but somehow never got around it but perhaps my subconscious knew that it was not quite the right time.  Now I feel that my timing is almost perfect.

Finding a car park near Leicester’s city centre is difficult, this in a city which in 2014 became famous for one particular car park which contained the remains of King Richard.  I had already visited the site of the battle of Bosworth in 2014 where the King met his end and now that he had been recently buried decided to see for myself the place where his remains had been put to rest.  I booked into a hotel in Market Bosworth a few days earlier and set my car Sat. Nav. to find the Cathedral, where King Richard lies buried.  My car circumnavigated an island on which lay a nearby multi-storey car park three times before I eventually found an entrance and was able to park at what I was later to find out to be an exorbitant price (£8.00).

The cathedral lacks the grandeur of similar structures in other British cities, but it is a beautiful building nonetheless.  Richard’s stone tomb lies inside and has a section to itself.  It was free to enter and I was allowed to take photographs, but not to use flash.  I asked the lady steward at the door where the famous car park was.  I was told that it was a short distance away across the road and I should look for a plaque on the wall.  I was in the process of photographing the plaque by an entrance to a space in which cars were parked when a man passing by remarked, “If you are looking for the place where Richard III’s body was found that’s not it.  The actual car park is further along the road and around the corner.  I’ll show you where it is if you like.”  I thanked him and he led me a few hundred yards to a red bricked courtyard, the entrance to which was blocked by a barred iron gate.  “The bones were found there in the far corner,” he said pointing through the bars.  I duly pointed my camera lens through a gap in the metal in the direction he indicated and took my photograph.  “After they discovered them, they dug the whole area up and removed it to the visitor centre opposite the church.  There is a walled off centre in the courtyard which signifies the car park, but the actual car park is here.  If you want to see the removed area you must visit the visitor centre and pay the expensive entrance fee.”  I thanked him for his help and for taking the time to guide me to this spot.  His reply was that he was delighted to help someone who was interested in understanding the history of the city where he now lived.  I thanked him again and we parted company.

I did visit the visitor centre and paid the £7.00 entrance fee.  Inside, I was treated to a photographic display and videos showing the archaeological excavations that took place when the remains were discovered.  I also saw and was able to photograph the removed part of the car park which was now under glass.  Afterwards, I visited the timber framed Guildhall, built in the 14th century, which was next to the Cathedral and free to enter.

The city and its football team deserve their good fortune despite the high price charged by its car parks.  Yesterday a crowd of over one hundred thousand turned out to cheer the team as it paraded through the streets in open top buses.  Leicester’s citizens and footballers have inspired those of other cities worldwide.  Long may this continue.

Keith Jahans
17th May 2016

King Richard's Car ParkKing Richard III’s Car Park

King Richard's Statue in front of CathedralStatue of King Richard outside Leicester Cathedral

King Richard's TombKing Richard’s Tomb

For information about Leicester City Football Club
go to

Book Review – Gun Baby Gun by Iain Overton

February 8, 2016

This is a book that all gun owners and politicians should read. Iain Overton gives a frightening account about the use of guns in modern times. The book is full of chilling statistics and at the same time it is a rattling good read. The author describes a worldwide odyssey during which he sought to uncover the story behind each statistic.

I came across Iain Overton at the The Folkestone Book Festival in November when I heard him described his journey into the dark world of the gun (see ) and bought a signed copy from his own hand. I spoke to him briefly about my astonishment that a gun factory in the United States called Kalashnikov USA had just been established in 2015. A fact I discovered while researching the novel I am currently writing. I should not have been surprised because despite the many accounts of mass shootings of civilians in the USA the influence of the pro gun lobby prevails. Unfortunately, lack of time prevented me talking with him longer but the information contained in this extremely well crafted book more than makes up for that.

It is a work that is well worth the read and I highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to know more about the lethal weapons used by loan or small groups of mass killers.

Gun Baby Gun
Gun Baby Gun: A Bloody Journey into the World of the Gun
by Iain Overton is published by Canongate Books; Main edition
in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press

2015 in review

December 31, 2015

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Travels in Southern England – The Folkestone Book Festival – Sunday 29 November

November 29, 2015

An Exceptional Nation?
Former newspaper commentator and historian, Jonathan Fenby, posed this question about France at the Quaterhouse this afternoon. He took us through the events that have shaped the country from the Revolution to the present day. Some of the facts I already knew but there were many details about the leaders of those times of which I was unaware. This has been a month in which the shootings in Paris have left the modern world numb. The French President has called it an attack on the very values and fabric of his country. This was my last visit to a Folkestone Book Festival event and gives me a chance to reflect on how fanatical violence can affect the freedoms fought for and gained by today’s modern civilizations. Fenby’s book looks to contain valuable information about the turmoils that effect the evolution of a European country and looks to be worth buying.

History of Modern France
The History of Modern France is published by Simon & Schuster
and is available in hardcover and as an ebook

Keith Jahans

Travels in Southern England – The Folkestone Book Festival – Saturday 28 November

November 29, 2015

Robin Ince’s Reality Tunnel
I took a break from the Festival on Friday but decided to give this presentation by Robin Ince last night a view. I had not heard of Ince before and was unprepared for what turned out to be a very clever stand-up routine with a smattering of scientific facts thrown in. His set was full of throwaway one liners and often diverged away from a particular point he was trying to make before the punch line. I particularly liked the way he said he had upset some art critics when he said that instead of visiting a Turner exhibition he preferred to walk along a bank of the Thames without his glasses on. Good comedy will always offend someone and Ince takes great delight in doing this. At times I found his comedy a little too glib but the audience seemed enchanted by it. Hidden between the jibs are some salient points and I think that any night out hosted by Robin Ince will be well worth the visit.

Keith Jahans

Travels in Southern England – The Folkestone Book Festival – Thursday 26 November

November 27, 2015

Trollope Revisited
This year is the 200th centenary of Anthony Trollop’s birth. The Festival marked the occasion by making his novel, The Way We Live Now, the festival read and a mammoth showing of all parts of the BBC adaptation preceded this presentation by Peter Merchant, principal lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University. I elected to miss the marathon screening but I was glad that I attended the presentation. I confess that I have not read any Trollop novel or watch any of their film or TV adaptations. However, it was fascinating to hear Merchant compare his writing style with his more famous contemporary, Charles Dickens. He used text analysis tools to compare extracts from some of their novels and showed that Dickens used more imagery and words than the more measured and methodical method of Trollop. Each proved effective in recounting the themes that they endeavoured to portray and this has convinced me to add at least one of Trollope’s works to my reading list.

The Way We Live NowThe Way We Live Now is available in a variety of formats,
Ebooks can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg

Melvyn Bragg: Now is the Time
I was fortunate to get a late ticket to see this famous TV and radio presenter talk about his historical novel of the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381. Bragg impressively set the events, which took place around the time of the Black Death, in context. At one point he diverged from his discourse to say that he considered that humans emergence from their apelike ancestors was not due to their ability for language (even birds are able to communicate by calling to each other) but due to their development of imagination. Great Scientists such as Newton and Einstein thought about their ideas first then imagined how they worked before putting them to the test. I found this view of human evolution intriguing which leads me to think that this novel will be well worth the read.

Now Is The TimeNow Is The Time is published by Sceptre
And is available in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook and audiobook

Keith Jahans

Travels in Southern England – The Folkestone Book Festival – Wednesday 25 November

November 26, 2015

An Italian Journey
At 7.30 pm Wednesday writer and publisher, Alessandro Gallenzi, translator, Franca Simpson, and cookbook writer Claudia Roden took part in a discussion on Italian food, language and culture chaired by Lennox Morrison. I was particularly taken by Claudia Roden’s remark that cooking is history and landscape in a saucepan. After the conversation we retired to the Quarterhouse’s upstairs bar to examine their published books and where some delicious Italian cuisine awaited us to sample. It was a most convivial evening.

Keith Jahans