Pip Utton’s Churchill

‘It was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen’ — 1984 by George Orwell When the clock strikes thirteen, the statue of Winston Churchill comes to life. For this one night, this single hour, Pip Utton‘s Churchill reflects on his life, his various achievements, and his three loves: whiskey, cigars and his wife Clementine. In the space of an hour, Pip Utton paints a convincing and intimate portrait of Churchill. Starting with little jokes about his fellow statues – when it is Abraham Lincoln’s time, he always attempts to go to the theatre forgetting he will never get to see act two – and the fact that Nelson Mandela is the only statue cast in his actual colour, although the pigeons are trying to remedy this situation – he sets the tone for a humorous but serious evening. Drinking from a glass canister of whiskey, Read More …

The Bookcase: Saartje Tadema by Thea Beckman

Saartje Tadema by Thea Beckman is a Dutch children’s book and is part of childhood nostalgia for me. The title character Saartje enters the Amsterdam’s Burgerweeshuis (Amsterdam’s Civil Orphanage) at the start of the novel which is set in the 18th century. Saartje is an independent girl and struggles to fit herself into the rigid life of the orphanage. Through Saartje, Beckman portrays life in the 18th-century Amsterdam orphanage convincingly. Beckman’s books are full of lively history and nurtured my passion for the topic since I was young. It was through Beckman’s books that I became acquainted with the Hundred Years’ War and the role of Bertrand du Guesclin in particular. Saartje Tadema enters the orphanage age seven together with her older brother Dirk. Her younger brother is fostered out until he is four and old enough to join them. Saartje and Dirk are quickly separated as Saartje is to Read More …