Lib Dem Bloggers’ Christmas stocking fillers… Part V

What presents are you looking forward to giving or receiving this year? That’s the question LDV posed to a group of Lib Dem bloggers. All this week we’re revealing what they told us, with link-throughs to Amazon for your shopping convenience (and ‘cos the referral fees help support LibDemVoice: so get clicking and ordering). Part I is available here; Part II here; Part III here; and Part IV here. In part five, our final duo of bloggers – Alex Wilcock and, erm, me – give us the low-down on their Xmas faves…

Alex Wilcock

If you want to spend a ludicrous amount of money for your loved one who loves the Beatles, there’s The Beatles In Mono Box Set, collecting all their mono mixes – often very different from the stereo – on CD for the first time.

Or, if they already have that, or are thinking of getting it and you aren’t really going to spend upwards of £170, why not get them Andrew Hickey’s The Beatles In Mono (paperback here, though other formats are available)? I’ve been reading it as I listen to them, and he’s informative, self-deprecating and keeps making me go ‘Ooh, I wouldn’t have noticed that’.

A slightly – but not much – less ludicrous amount of money, but if anything even more well-deserved and almost as defining of the 1960s, is The Complete Avengers 50th Anniversary Edition on DVD. It’s one of the best TV shows of the Twentieth Century and one of the most important in British cultural history, not least by introducing viewers to intelligent, independent women who flung men over their shoulders. By riding old-fashioned Britishness and Swinging modernity with equal excitement, you might call it a hugely successful Conservative-Liberal coalition. If that costs a bit much, and it does, I’d recommend one of these two individual seasons: The Avengers – Series 4 [DVD] and/or The Avengers – Series 6 [DVD]. And this is why.

Scaling down in price, but not by much in quality, A Very Peculiar Practice – The Complete BBC Series is at last available on DVD. Dramatic, political, and above all very funny, with four simply outstanding doctors in Graham Crowden, Barbara Flynn, Peter Davison and David Troughton, this was Andrew Davies before he went all frilly. And what Liberal Democrat couldn’t enthusiastically cry ‘More about the NHS and universities, please!’

And finally, if you’ve not got much to spend and Lib Dem Voice is allowed to tiptoe away from Amazon, there’s chocolate. It’s what a lot of us get anyway, so why not celebrate it? And as I’m not a big fan of special ‘Christmas’ flavours, here are a few Christmassy shapes that still taste like proper chocolates and which you can’t get enough of.

From Thorntons, the very moreish Chocolate Truffle Domes or White Chocolate Truffle Hearts… From Hotel Chocolat, I always like their cute little “Tiddly” shapes, depending on which sort of chocolate you prefer – Tiddly Caramel Chocolate Penguins, Tiddly Dark Chocolate Reindeer or Tiddly White Chocolate Santas… And, of course, if you don’t like mince pies, and I don’t, what could be more Christmassy than their Alternative Mince Pies?

Oops, and finally finally – the other cheap one I forgot, despite having put it literally on my desk in front of my screen so that I’d remember … Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London (and its sequel, Moon Over Soho) follow Detective Constable Peter Grant through brilliant, witty, occasionally disturbing police procedurals. With magic. And jazz.

Stephen Tall

For me holidays are all about books and reading, so here are the two books I’ve most enjoyed reading this year… In the non-fiction category, The Anatomy of a Moment by Javier Cercas is a brilliant insight into the events of Spain on the evening of 23 February, 1981, when extremist Francoists attempted a coup d’etat. By combining historical, biographical, psychological and philosophical insights it builds an utterly convincing and totally absorbing account, which, by placing the events of ’23F’ under a microscope, enlarges on Spain’s remarkable transition from dictatorship to democracy in just six years.

And in the fiction category, there’s Patrick McGuinness’s The Last Hundred Days, a breathtakingly poetic (and often very funny) deconstruction of the dying days of the Caucescu regime in Romania told through the story of a young, troubled Englishman thrust into a grim Bucharest where the commonplace and the underworld blur into one.

Lib Dem-related, I would urge everyone interested in the party to read two books… Peace, Reform and Liberation: A history of liberal politics in Britain 1679-2011, edited by Robert Ingham and Duncan Brack, a one-volume canter through more then three centuries of political philosophy and reality which brings us right up to the present day… And Jasper Gerard’s The Clegg Coup: Britain’s First Coalition Government Since Lloyd George, a provocative but deeply researched account of the party’s leap into the unknown.

Finally, away from books but still well worth holiday reading time, why not try a subscription to The Economist? It’s deep-seated attachment to market liberalism won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s the best (probably only) newspaper to offer rigorous international coverage that’s about more than just disasters and wars: politics, culture, technology, business, science… it’s all covered with objectivity and perspective.

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