Whilst I would not recommend any fiction as a source of historical knowledge., the reader cannot help but pick up some historical background from this book, including the political background to Caesar’s later rise to fame and subsequent assassination. I felt the book was an easier read than its predecessor; perhaps the writer is becoming more skilled at his craft. It could be read without reading the earlier work, but I suspect it is better read after Children.
I would suggest that this series is suitable for anyone who enjoys historical fantasy. It is mainly intended for young adults, but old adults (and even geriatric adults like me) can enjoy it. it would also suit older pre-teen children, as long as they have a reasonable reading ability.
You can buy the book from our local bookshops, including the Ilfracombe Bookshop, or direct from the publisher, Blue Poppy - https://bluepoppypublishing.co.uk/oliver-tooley-author/wise-oak-series/ - , or, if all else fails, from Amazon. Also, if you are lucky, you may also be able to borrow a copy from the Ilfracombe Library, as long as you get to it before everyone else!
Last week, I mentioned that The Tubby Foundation had awarded two bursaries. They subsequently had a late application from Cameron Hutchins, the brother of Marcus, of whom I have also written. In the circumstances, it was agreed to award Cameron a bursary. Cameron will be studying chemistry at Cardiff University. I was particularly pleased at this, as I studied chemistry (at Sussex University) about 50 million years ago.
Meanwhile, Marcus is still stuck in the USA. The prosecution has had the case declared a complex one, which means that the normal requirement that he should be brought to trial within 70 days is waived. So his original expectation that the trial would be in October will now not happen. Also, Marcus still has not been given any details of what he is charged with, which means his prosecution effectively has as long as they want to dig up dirt, whereas he, no doubt deliberately, will have little time in which to prepare a defence. This is an outrageous abuse of justice!
(Please remember: If you would like to contribute to his defence, there is a crowdfunding site at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/malwaretech/. If you can help, please do. And please let Marcus know that you are thinking of him.)
My friend, Tony Olsson, as well as many others, says that there is no such thing as an unsafe road, there are only unsafe drivers. I agree up to a point. Who could not, having seen some of the videos posted on Facebook? Some of those drivers should probably not be allowed out in public on foot, let alone in charge of a potentially lethal vehicle!
At the end of the day, however, given the will (which the authorities do not seem to possess), the truly dangerous drivers could be taken off the roads. My suggestions would be:
1. Institute regular driver re-tests. Vehicles are currently tested for safety every year, yet the really fallible component of the vehicle/driver combination is normally only tested once and then left alone for the rest of his or her life. This is literally insane.
2. Automatically charge drivers responsible for death or serious injury as a result of dangerous or careless driving with manslaughter or attempted manslaughter, and leave it to the court to decide if a lesser charge is warranted.
3. Police should be willing to charge and courts should be willing to convict solely on the basis of dashcam evidence.
4. Courts should be able and willing to ban a driver for life in suitable cases.
Yet, even if all these measures were enacted tomorrow, the A361 would still be an unsafe road. And why? The truth is that many of the accidents which have happened on it have not been caused by routinely dangerous drivers. At least some of them seem to have been caused by ordinary drivers who have had a momentary lack of attention or sufficient frustration to overcome normal care. The only way to deal with these problems is to change human nature, and that, my friends, is not going to happen.
Tony would love to see a Taunton to Barnstaple railway reinstated and I agree that this would be the solution in an ideal world. However, Tony is well aware that this world is not ideal. His solution would require planning enquiries which would last years. Building work would take more years and goodness only knows how many years it would take to put in place schemes to ween people off their addiction to motoring and then to implement those schemes.
On the other hand, improvements to the A361 could begin very soon and could be done piecemeal, with each piece completed improving safety to some extent.
Coming up on Friday 15th September, 7pm, at the Museum: 'Quote Unquote'-a cross between a pub quiz and live entertainment, with a Victorian theme, in conjunction with Studio Theatre.
And finally, I had a couple of pleasant meals last week, one at Thomas Carr at the Olive Room and one at The Habit. Both seem to have changed their wine lists recently.