Francis Bown's Music, Film and Book Selection

Bown's Picks

While we had Francis Bown over as guest at Tweed Towers, we thought we'd ask him if he had any book, music and film recommendations for our readers. He kindly provided the following information. Thanks to Francis for the time and effort given for our little Bown week.

Book - The Diary of A Nobody

No English gentleman is worthy of the name who is not acquainted with this comic masterpiece. For those of us who rejoice in the unending struggle for self-improvement of the petite bourgeoisie, it offers a delightful portrait of our patron saint, Mr Charles Pooter. His account of his modest triumphs and failures (his daily, unsuccessful attempt to persuade the maid to boil his breakfast eggs hard being one of the latter) has delighted persons of taste since it was written by George and Weedon Grossmith and first published in Punch in the 1880s. It appeared in book form in 1892. Mr Pooter’s careful affection for his wife, Carrie(Caroline), and his occasional exasperation with his son, Lupin, are detailed by a man who is kind, correct, concerned for his dignity and entirely devoid of self-awareness.

The version above is from Ulan Press. [Amazon]

Film - Went the Day Well?

Here is the Britain of our longings: rural, patriotic, brave and socially ordered. The film was directed by Alberto Cavalcanti and was based upon a short story by Graham Greene. In the year of its making, 1942, the risk of a German invasion was real, and therefore this story of a lovely village, Bramley End, being taken over by Nazi paratroopers, dressed as British Tommies, must have been tremendously powerful for its first audiences. It is still moving today. The courage shown by the villagers, whether it comes from the Vicar, the local poacher or from the lady of the Hall, sums up what our land means when it is at its best. That it was made at a moment of such danger perhaps explains why its sentiment never for a moment degenerates into sentimentality.

Now out on Blu-Ray from StudioCanal. [Amazon]

Music - Messe Solonnelle

The traditional Latin Mass of the Holy Roman Church is one of the glories of Western civilization. Of all the music it has inspired, this modern (1951) setting of the Kyries, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei by Jean Langlais inspires me like no other. By turns, intimate, mysterious, majestic and triumphant, it is most definitely modern, but it has none of the dissonant horror beloved of some modernists. It is wonderfully exciting – no more so, of course, than when it is performed liturgically in a magnificent church. From the age of two, Jean Langlais (1907- 1991) was blind. Yet he was recognized as one of the most brilliant organists and composers in France in the Twentieth Century. A man of faith, he dedicated this masterpiece to his parish priest.

The CD version above was recorded by Eton College Chapel Choir and is out on the British Signum Records label. [Amazon]

Tweedy's Thought: I think Bown week went rather well. It is probably a good idea to mix in some new voices and opinions to my constant wittering on. I think we might try and squeeze any future pin-ups in the same way.


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