until recently i would have comfortably placed myself in the doesn't watch much television bracket. apart from cycle racing on eurosport or itv 4, the light emitting diodes on our toshiba 32" were mostly filled with the soaps. for mrs washingmachinepost, like many women it seems, has a predilection for such televisual entertainment. of course, while these were being pumped into our sitting room i am most often writing the following day's post or some other cycle-related task, so it really was of no nevermind in any case.
though it probably means sir brailsford is unlikely to drop by for tea, we desisted from our sky subscription some years ago when their customer service let us down rather badly after a bout of inclement weather shifted the dish a centimetre or two. since discovering that the aforementioned toshiba had freeview built-in, we decided to lessen our monthly outgoings and survive with an aerial on the window sill. however, though a quick visit to the freeview website will result in the promise of almost three-score tv channels, due to a lack of foresight when the tv masts were erected on islay, there are a substantial number unavailable to us. so watching any itv or bbc channel numbered greater than two involved headphones and my macbook air.
however, rather more au fait with such matters than his ageing parents, number one son managed to shift the satellite dish slightly, allowing use of the formerly defunct sky box to watch freesat on which suddenly, all those missing channels were now available. thus in the latter part of the evening, when i really ought to be reading more pages of more books for review, i find myself watching re-runs of lewis, midsumer murders and foyle's war. there truly is no accounting for taste.
the exception to this nightly rule currently takes place on thursdays when channel e4 broadcasts new big bang theory with a half hour gap before the good wife appears on more 4. the problem, should it be seen as such, being quite what to do in the half hour between those two programmes. i can hear the voices at the back shouting "read a book, read a book", but that doesn't take into account the fact that several of the more recent releases contain chapters that last more than half an hour.
there truly ought to be a measure taken at the editing stage as to quite how long a chapter will last based on a national average reading speed. i tend to think i'm quite a speedy reader, yet more often than not, after big bang has ended and just as the good wife is about to commence, i still have three or four pages to get through. oh for a compact and bijou set of reading material that would comfortably and interestingly fit into that space.
i am well aware that messrs bacon and birnie had no such context in mind when deciding to augment our velocipedinal entertainment by way of their excellent cycling anthology series. issue one to three evinced nothing more nor less than the halcyon days of publishing when it was possible to acquire quite superb storytelling in a small package that is not only ergonomically perfect in a leather armchair, but decorated with a handsome set of related covers. cycling anthology, on reaching number four (a major landmark in itself i'd warrant) is now released by the inimitable yellow jersey press who have seen fit to retain the illustrative excellence of simon scarsbrook, but redirect it in a way that sadly loses the boys' own persona that it inhabited so well.
in fact, by way of celebration and imprint, they've republished the first three editions of the cycling anthology with similarly enhanced covers. a bit of a shame i feel, but superficially so, for the contents, if anything, are more wonderful than ever.
there was always a perceived danger that the editors would come to favour certain writers and what we could conceivably have ended up with was an old boys club of a cliche; the same chaps and chapesses writing about the same subjects for evermore. on the evidence of number four, this has been very neatly and confidently side-stepped, with a range of thirteen short stories all of which will easily fit between the big bang theory and the good wife with time left over to, as billy connolly once said "appreciate, appreciate."
naturally enough, editors ellis bacon and lionel birnie are amongst the contributors, offering words on songs about cycling and the world of the sprinter respectively, but their number four accomplices could hardly have been better chosen: sky's orla chennaoui, an excellent testament to jock wadley by will fotheringham, james startt, matt stephens falling off his bike in italy, daniel friebe, keith bingham, peter cossins, alisdair fotheringham and last but definitely not least, tom southam finding out what it means to retire as a professional never having ridden the tour de france.
it is probably unfair to single out one from the many, but i must confess that richard moore's eccentric interview with long distance lorry driver (sic), iban mayo was a delight. though a book review is surely the opportunity for chaps like me who have read it cover to cover to explain just why you ought to be filling your advert breaks by purchasing a copy, i can't help feeling that doing so to the best of my ability might just give the game away, so to speak. i'm happy to give the authors a name check, but if you want to find an appropriate antidote to all the football currently filling prime-time tv, for only £8.99 you need look no further.
yet another work of art.
sunday 22 june 2014..........................................................................................................................................................................................................