And Now For Something Completely Different, My Brother’s Favorite Reading List As An Invited Blog Post

Interviewer: Was there anything unusual about Dinsdale?

Lady Friend: I should say not! Dinsdale was a perfectly normal person in every way. Except inasmuch as he was convinced that he was being watched by a giant hedgehog he referred to as Spiny Norman.
Lady Friend: Lately, Dinsdale had become increasingly worried about Spiny Norman. He had come to the conclusion that Norman slept in an aeroplane hangar at Luton Airport.
Host: And so, on February the 22nd, 1966, at Luton Airport…
[Footage of a mushroom cloud]
Host: Even the police began to sit up and take notice.

Source: Memorable Quotes from Monty Python’s Flying Circus

Hi folks,

FitOldDog's brother Trevor, family,

Trevor, FitOldDog’s younger brother – something completely different.

It is my pleasure to introduce my brother, Trevor, who has considerable intellectual sparring skills (I just thought that he cried a lot when he was a kid, but then I was his not so nice big brother), a penchant for poetry and other things that I fail to comprehend, a fascinating life history, and several great kids, one of which, Matthew, is a talented runner and who contributes comments to this blog from time to time. Perhaps I could persuade Trevor’s son to prepare a post on running? You never know your luck!

Trevor read my recent blog post, listing some of my favorite books, and it became clear in our subsequent conversation that his selection would be extremely different. I suggested that he consider writing a blog post on his reading choices, and here it is. Trevor had read 2/11 of my selection, whereas I must admit that apart from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, I knew little about any of the other books that Trevor recommends. Without further ado, here is Trevor’s invited post:

Chalk and cheese with some shared nature and some shared nurture

It seems that we ought to glory in the differences between folk, even closely related folk.

Of Kevin’s recommended reading list I have only read two, The Forsyte Saga and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and I would only put one, The Hitchhikers Guide on my list.

So to Start the List:

The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams. This book was first broadcast on BBC radio and the pictures are better on the radio. BBC Comedy historically had always been good stuff.  I put this down to the fact that the first Director General, Lord Reith had absolutely no sense of humour and was never known to laugh.  He knew he had to put on Comedy, but he did not know what made good comedy, so despite being a control freak he let his comedy department have a completely free hand. Good comedy cannot be written in a straight jacket.

Beowulf, drawing, John Howe, FitOldDog's brother Trevor, reading list

Beowulf Sails Home

Beowulf. (And other old Anglisc books)  I am English. I like being English and I like to read about our distant past. Beowulf, like Gilgamesh before it, is a ripping yarn in verse and is basically about the progress of the hero. I also like the Exeter book of Riddles for its comedy and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for it’s version of history. Added to these are the writings of Gildas and Bede and you have most of what we know about the origins of the English and their influential language.

Manual of Seamanship Vols. I and II (1951 Edition) published by the Admiralty. This was my basic textbook for my first year in the Royal Navy that I joined at the age of 15 (not a smart move on my part). I like this book for its ability to teach even dunderheads some basics about seamanship. The graphics are of a period that I like, a period that coincided with my childhood. This is a fine example of writing in clear plain English.

The Poems of John Clare’s Madness (or any good collection of his poetry). I write poetry, not those short pieces of disjointed prose, called free verse. Clare composes beautiful lyrical verse and writes about nature, including the plants and animals of his native Northamptonshire fens. His poem, “The Flitting”, I happen to rate as one of the best written in English.

The Fisherman and His Soul Oscar Wilde, drawing from Heinrich Vogeler’s illustrated Wilde

Heinrich Vogeler’s illustrated [Oscar

The Short Stories of Oscar Wilde. Wilde was a natural storyteller and his short stories make for brilliant bedtime reading to children. His “Fisherman and his Soul” is a quite beautiful morality tale.

Theories of Electricity and Magnetism by James Clarke Maxwell. I did a great many experiments on transmitting antennae and used lots of made-simple type textbooks that were useless. Only by going to the original source did I find some understanding. Not that I grasp all of the work, but I got enough to help with my design problems. So when tracking down knowledge I now always go to the original source if available

The Consolations of Philosophy by Severus Boethius. I came across this fifth century work when reading about Alfred the Great. Boethius wrote this book whilst awaiting execution. It is not morbid in its conclusions. I read it because it was Alfred’s favourite text. I doubt if many people would like it, but as I read it not too long after being attacked violently in the street it helped me to cope with the randomness of Fate.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I did a degree in Economics. This book was not on the list. There were plenty of texts to tell me what Smith said, most of them well off the mark, but nothing from the founder of the discipline. I found this strange. I also found Smith to be very readable. I read it during the poll tax riots. Smith advised against the use of any type of poll tax. At that time the Adam Smith Institute was the driving force behind introducing the poll tax. I guess they never read his book either, but they did bring down Margaret Thatcher with their stupidity.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (real name Noonan). This is the only serious novel that I would list. It is a work that describes the nasty chiselling behaviour of some small building companies. I doubt if it has crossed the Atlantic, as it is a passionate socialist work. He puts in a lovely chapter called the “Great money trick”. This describes how he sees it that the rich are able to stay rich and how they keep the poor in poverty. Put this up against the recent economic woes of subprimes, etc., and you may see similarities. His descriptions of the miserable lot of building workers c.1904 are good social commentary.

Scrabster harbour in the north of Scotland

Scrabster Harbour in the north of Scotland

What I do not read seriously: the News   And here’s why: In 1963, I travelled from Portsmouth (in the South of England) to Scapa Flow in the Orkneys (in the North of Scotland) to join HMS Cavalier. At Scrabster harbour, I was the only passenger waiting for the ferry. When it arrived the only passengers to disembark were Queen Elizabeth II and her retinue, her cars and her dogs. I got to the Kirkwall half a day after HMS Cavalier had left for Portsmouth, so I stayed overnight before journeying back. On the Evening News there was an item about the Queen’s visit to Orkney. The newsreader said that after her successful visit to Orkney her majesty was greeted at Scrabster “by a large crowd cheering and waving union jacks”. But I was the only person on that jetty! There were pictures to support their claims, but I recognised the location as Exmouth in Devon!!! Now, either I am a large crowd cheering and waving union jacks or the news is not always quite what it seems.

So on second thoughts to finish my list for creative fiction I recommend THE NEWS.

Wellington, Somerset, where FitOldDog spent a year as a young veterinarian in the late 1960s. From:

Wellington, Somerset, where FitOldDog spent a year as a young veterinarian in the late 1960s and, by happenstance, his brother, Trevor, lives today.

Unlike Kevin I do not exercise to any great degree. I have a hiatus hernia and have had surgery on my lower spine.  This together with Pudendal Nerve Entrapment does limit just what I can do. I am awaiting treatment on the NHS [National Health Service] due in August for this.  Not exercising seems to me to be a folly. Obviously we all must recognise any limitation and live within it, but being an idle lardy is such a waste of potential

I do what I can, and what I can do is walk. So I try to walk at least four miles a day.  However my walks are usually interrupted by nature. It is all about us. Also by history that is everywhere, too. It is not just books that are there to be read. Landscapes tell us lots also, but are subtler in what they have to say so we must be tuned in, in order to ‘hear’ their messages.

I am fortunate to live in an old land that is full of wonders and things to say about them.


POSTSCRIPT BY FitOldDog:I was unable to find the expression ‘idle lardy’ on the web, only remembering lardy cake (yummy), so maybe Trevor can clarify this at some later time?”



  1. Lardy: navy term for a person who is obese
    A rich obese person who talks with a posh upper classe accent is a Lardy Dardy

  2. Matthew Morgan says

    Thumbs up for the Happy Prince!

    What sort of post on running were you after?

    • Hi Matthew, an interesting post! Please! Choose something that I tend to neglect that will interest runners or some other target audience. That would be great. -kevin

  3. I’ve only read one of those, last year – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

  4. I think lardy dardy (not sure of that spelling) probably comes from la-di-da
    adj. Informal
    Affectedly genteel; pretentious.
    Used to express disdain for something viewed as pretentious.
    [Imitative of affected speech.]

    • High calorie food for marathon and ironman or bricklayers labourer.
      If less active it is pure waisteline expander

  5. It’s good to see you two having a chat. -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.