My review of the week. Here’s some of the things I’ve been in to:
A TV programme (and a book): Last night BBC2 had a one-off programme Murder on the Victorian Railway about the first railway murder when a Thomas Briggs was killed in a train carriage near Hackney. The programme comes shortly after I’ve read Kate Colquhoun’s book Mr Brigg’s Hat about the same murder, and the programme was based on that book. After reading the book the programme felt very short, but it’s an interesting bit of social history at a time of massive change in terms of transport, increasing industrialisation, the growth of newspapers and attitudes towards different groups.
An article: There was an interesting article on the BBC website this week about a study in to DNA of people living in Britain, which amongst other things showed interesting stuff such as how different the Celtic parts of Britain are and how the North and South Welsh have less in common with each other than they do with the English. Fascinating stuff and intriguing how even today there are such marked differences.
A TV series: India’s Frontier Railways is a short but interesting series of programmes on BBC4. The name is fairly self-explanatory but as well as the logistics of running these railways and the people involved, it shows an interesting contrast between the modernity of India’s big cities and the very different way of life in the more rural areas.
A book: I’ve been a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s books on happiness since I first read The Happiness Project a few years ago. A book I still return to every so often when I need a bit of inspiration. Some people are pretty sceptical about the surge in books dedicated to life improvement but what I particularly like about Gretchen Rubin’s books is how she takes the view that generally we are pretty happy but we might want some small incremental changes to our lives. She’s now brought out Better Than Before, about how to form good habits day to day. My pre-ordered copy arrived yesterday and so I’m looking forward to reading it when I’ve finished my current pile of library books.
A TV series: Caribbean with Simon Reeve starts tonight on BBC2 and as I’ve always loved his programmes I’ll recommend it now before I’ve seen a programme. Simon Reeve always manages to show places and sides to those places that you’ve not seen before, and he as an informed curiosity that I think makes him head and shoulders above many other travel presenters who often appear to know very little about the place they’ve gone to. He also does it without patronising and belittling the locals.
A TED talk: This has been one of those weeks when there hasn’t been much that is worth picking out for my review, so I’m going to add in this TED talk from Thomas Heatherwick as it’s one of my favourites from the TED website. Thomas Heatherwick has designed some amazing structures but yet seems a surprisingly nervous character when on a big stage although he clearly relaxes as he gets in to his stride. Even if Thomas Heatherwick isn’t someone you’ve come across before you will recognise some of his work and it reminds you of how clever designers and architects can be and how when they do something well it can bring a lot of pleasure to daily life.