I only found one author actually from Enfield, and I didn't like the sound of his books at all, so I went about eight miles down the road to Woodford Green, and chose The Impossible Takes A Little Longer by Eric Edis. He decided to buy a Land Rover, recruit some fellow travelers via an advert in the paper, and drive from London to Australia, via Burma and Singapore - in 1957. Fifteen set out, but only two of the original party made it all the way to Australia (nobody died, but the others gradually dropped out along the way), so he then had to recruit a whole new team to make the trip back again. The whole thing took 18 months, and involved a lot of visa wrangling, unpleasant illnesses, flat tyres and dragging the Land Rover out of the mud. The book is clearly self-published (in 2008) and the prose isn't the best I've read, but the story is fascinating, and Eric's authorial voice is personable and entertaining. As you might expect from someone who grew up in the 30s and 40s, some of the attitudes he expresses towards his female travelling companions and the native people in the countries he visited are less than politically correct, but I've heard a lot worse, and in general he is very positive about the experience and the other people involved.
This is not a book I would ever have come across if it hadn't been for the reading challenge, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Last week, I also went to see Their Finest, a film about a female writer employed in the Second World War to make female dialogue more convincing in the films put out by the Ministry of Information. In a lot of ways, I thought it was really good. The humour was done well, as was the presentation of the lives of those trying to carry on and get work done during the Blitz. Bill Nighy is always good value, and the parts about the making of the film within the film were great. However, the romance storyline did nothing for me at all. I didn't think either of the central relationships were developed fully enough or presented with enough complexity for the motivations of the characters to be convincing, or the emotional impact to be effective at all. I found some of the characters' actions and decisions very inconsistent, and that whole aspect of the film just didn't work, in my view. Still, there was a lot to like apart from that, and the rest was very well done.
And then, yesterday, we spent the whole afternoon and evening at the Palace Theatre, watching both parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (no spoilers below!). The trip had an inauspicious beginning when the very thorough bag search turned out to be focused on food and drink rather than anything more suspicious, which I thought was a bit harsh since the timings of the plays meant we would be in the theatre at both lunch and dinner time. Then, it turned out that "restricted view" really was very restricted, in that we could only see half the stage. There wasn't anyone behind us, so we did a lot of leaning and craning, and got most of it, but it was still a bit of a shame.
I found the opening sections of Part One very frenetic and difficult to follow, with very little chance to get attached to the characters. Anyone not already familiar with the Harry Potter universe would have been completely lost, but then I suppose the plays aren't aimed at the uninitiated. To get all the negative stuff out of the way first, I also thought there were some aspects that were played for laughs and shouldn't have been, which was a shame, and diminished the initial impact of my favourite character.
However, once it got going and really found its feet, it was pretty amazing. The special effects and general staging, in particular, were spectacular. There were many moments where I couldn't work out how things were done, and it was all visually stunning and very impressive. The end of Part One was especially effective. I also thought the plot worked a lot better on stage with all the supporting aspects of performance, lighting, effects, etc, than it had when I read the script. The entire cast were obviously committed and really enjoying themselves, and most of the performances were excellent.
I liked the second half of Part One, and the first half of Part Two best. In fact, I was so immersed in Part Two, that the applause for the interval took me completed by surprise. Sections towards the end were also very affecting. So, whilst I found some aspects of the experience a bit problematical, I'm really glad we managed to get tickets and were able to go, because overall it was very good.