Books: Spoken Word

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The Independent Culture
PETE GOSS's story of his life up to and after his heroic rescue of a fellow competitor in the 1996 Vendee Globe single-handed round-the- world race is not great literature, but hearing it is an inspirational experience. What is most interesting about it is not the tough guy at the helm stuff, but the revelation of the sheer hard graft that getting together any sort of heavyweight yachting challenge now takes. Can it really be right that our once proudly maritime island is abandoning the cutting-edge of sailing technology to the whims of company sponsorship? And that it is now France rather than Britain which acclaims its top sailors as national heroes?

PERFECT CAR furniture for your journey down to see the eclipse in Cornwall, this is an excellent compilation of funny, clever and wistfully romantic observations by England's cosiest poet. It includes extracts from Betjeman's verse autobiography Summoned by Bells, poems, and some perceptive comments on the contemporary (to him) state of Cornwall. The voices of the readers - Ken Cranham, Geoffrey Palmer and Simon Russell Beale - offer a good combination of young eager beaver, be-cardiganed romantic and elderly cynic. But which is which reader, and where do the extracts come from? Cover to Cover gives us sadly little information.

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