Well, as ever, cometh the hour, cometh the man. Santa Claus managed to detect that the Falaise family had decamped to Mrs Falaise’s parents and was able to dump a suitably wonderful sackful of gifts down the chimney. Mini-Falaise was appropriately over-excited and wound up going to bed at 5.30 on Christmas Eve, although, having sensibly decided that she didn’t fancy a fat old man with a beard coming into her bedroom at night, she elected to sleep with Mummy, relegating me to a spare bedroom. Mini-Falaise’s grandparents babysat willingly, permitting Mrs Falaise and me to head off to the pub for a couple of beers and a couple of glasses of champagne and, despite a few viruses and colds, a good time was had by all.
As for me, Santa came up trumps. On the book side, it turned out to be a non-fiction Christmas, with the following volumes turning up in Falaise’s holy (as in containing holes, rather than sacred and venerable) old stocking:
The Fat Duck Cookbook by Heston Blumenthal – this is a socking great coffee table of a book, containing many of the signature recipes from the Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, recipient of three Michelin stars and voted best restaurant in the world on a couple of occasions. I particularly appreciated this as I could never have justified buying it for myself as it is pretty much impossible to replicate any of these recipes in a home kitchen. Cheers, Santa.
The American Civil War by John Keegan – Keegan is one of the UK’s leading military historians and is always worth a read. Although a keen amateur historian, I have very little knowledge of the American Civil War and am keen to correct this state of affairs.
My Journey by Tony Blair – he started as a breath of fresh air in British politics and ended up as one of the most reviled men in the country. I am fascinated by the whole New Labour phenomenon and still unsure whether Blair was a great but misunderstood PM or one of the great political con artists.
Decision Points by George W. Bush – I’ve never bought into the “George Bush is an idiot” school of thought and actually believe that he was a great presenter who fooled much of the American electorate into thinking he was just a good ‘ole Texas boy. I also think that history may take a kinder view of him than recent public opinion. But I may well be wrong on that.
Blood, Iron and Gold by Christian Wolmar – let’s get one thing straight: I am not a trainspotter. I have no interest in ticking off train serial numbers. I don’t even have an anorak. But I do love train travel. And I am interested in how the growth of the railway around the world impacted economies and cultures. So this history of the development of railways around the world should hit the spot.
Europe’s Tragedy by Peter Wilson – the Thirty Years’ War was one of the longest and most controversial wars of all time. By its end in 1648, a quarter of all Germans had been killed and a recognisably modern Europe had been created. Wilson’s book is, apparently, the first major history of the war in a generation and as it was such a significant event, I feel I should learn a bit more about it.
So, a pretty good haul but I think I am going to drip feed them into my reading schedule to avoid history and politics overload.
I’m doing a bit of
navel gazing thinking about where I want to go with my reading and blogging in 2011 and my next post will ramble on about set out my plans and thoughts.
Finally, I hope your Christmas was as excellent as mine.