Christmas 2011: Hal G.P. Colebatch

The best new novel I have read this year is Lars Walker’s West Oversea (Noble Novels) a tale of Viking Sagas as seen by a Christian priest at a time when the old Norse gods are still strong, and the uncanny is all about men’s lives. Unlike many latter-day Viking tales, it actually delivers the excitement and escapism it promises.        

I dip into or re-read The Lord of the Rings several times every year. This year, re-reading the penultimate chapter “The Scouring of the Shire”, I see its relevance to our present situation. The evil wizard Saruman bullies and terrorises the peaceful hobbits, even though he has been stripped of his powers, till a horn-call from the “travellers,” now tough and battle-hardened, arouses them to overthrow him. Looking at much of the Western World today I see an arrogant, domineering political class, growing more and more Saruman-like.       

For DVD’s, I intend to watch mainly old films – The Greatest Show on Earth, The Sea Chase, Casablanca. I was also pointed to an easily-overlooked cheapo film, Orcs. A bored and frustrated American park-ranger discovers he has the stuff of a hero in him (though where the latter-day orcs come from is unexplained). One of the best historical documentaries I have seen is the story of R. J. Mitchell and the development of the Spitfire. E. F. Benson’s Mapp and Lucia is always a delight.

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