FIVE MORE SAN SEBASTIÁN ART ATTRACTIONSSan Telmo MuseumThis museum is the place to learn about Basque history, culture and identity. Its permanent collection spans prehistoric civilisation to the modern day, presenting artefacts that tell the story of the land and its people. Part of the building is a former 16th-century convent, while the other part was built in 2011 by Spanish architect Nieto Sobejano.
Calm, with greying hair, Topping has a reassuringly confident air about his work despite the fact he has to deal with tonnes of nuclear waste and old oxide fuel whose exact composition and location is unknown. “The trouble is there is no one left at Sellafield to tell us where things were put down there. The stuff in the pond has been down there for 50 years,” says Topping.
It is an unsettling place, though B30 is certainly not unique. There is Building B38 next door, for example. “That’s the second most hazardous industrial building in Europe,” said Beveridge. Here highly radioactive cladding from reactor fuel rods is stored, also under water. And again, engineers have only a vague idea what else has been dumped in its cooling pond and left to disintegrate for the past few decades.
The only option was to take court action, for the first time, against a member state over nuclear safety.”I am sure the UK is going to put forward the adequate commitment plan with all the points I have called for,” she said.
It’s not what clergy wear that sets them apart (Surplice to requirement: vicars don’t need robes, says C of E, 11 July), but rather what they say and do, which for many, especially young people, renders the church irrelevant. Beliefs in forms of literal biblical fundamentalism and doctrinal orthodoxy do not resonate with much of contemporary culture. It is unfortunate that the church spends time discussing ecclesiastical millinery and human sexuality over and above those matters that really have effect and consequences upon ways of life and living. These do not have to be named, they are too well known.
* Lissa Evans’s Crooked Heart is published by Black Swan.
The Best of Myles by Brian O’NolanChosen by Ian Martin
Which Brian O’Nolan was funnier – novelist “Flann O’Brien” or columnist “Myles na gCopaleen”? Both were madly futuristic. At Swim-Two-Birds, his masterpiece, has characters conspiring against their author, erupting into the baffled real world as if in some weird Charlie Kaufman movie. The Third Policeman, with its proposition that people and their bicycles are exchanging molecules, one slowly becoming the other, comprar teclado tfue now feels like something the mainstream media might be hiding from conspiracy theorists. However, The Best of Myles, an anthology of satirical columns he wrote for the Irish Times, has been a lighthouse for me since the early 70s, and remains the funniest book I’ve ever read. With swaggering confidence, O’Nolan invents a parallel-reality Dublin in 1940 and then riffs for 26 years, until he dies. It’s a four-dimensional tour de force. There are “regulars”: The Brother, a monstrous chancer; Keats and Chapman, literary dandies with a weakness for puns; and the Plain People of Ireland, a sort of unreliable chorus. It’s a world both banal and absurd, where rogue ventriloquist theatre escorts – and intoxicating ice-cream – cause mayhem. One bloke spends all day cracking a fiendish newspaper crossword just to stroll into a bar in the evening and help an astonished acquaintance “solve” it. This book is a masterclass in how to defy a boring world with mischief.
The Church of England tradition is one of tremendous flexibility. The discussion at the general synod about the wearing or non-wearing of robes was no big deal. It was simply legalising what has become common practice in the expression of that flexibility.
At Freddie’s by Penelope FitzgeraldChosen by David Nicholls
So many of my early reading memories involve hysterical laughter. There was Adrian Mole, of course, and Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the Monty Python books, Woody Allen’s Without Feathers, Geoffrey Willans’s How to Be Topp, Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. Books were prized for being shocking or funny or, even better, both, and the promise that a book would make the reader “laugh out loud” seemed entirely plausible. Why not? It happened all the time.
Less so now perhaps, but a book that consistently makes me laugh is Penelope Fitzgerald’s At Freddie’s, a comic masterpiece from 1982 that really should be better known. It’s set in the early 60s, in a shabby, crumbling stage school in Covent Garden, full of terrifyingly precocious child actors and inept, downtrodden teachers, all presided over by the infamous Frieda “Freddie” Wentworth. Manipulative, enigmatic, sharp-tongued, opinionated, she’s an extraordinary comic creation; imagine Miss Jean Brodie played by Alastair Sim.
* Bridget Christie’s A Book for Her is published by Arrow.
The Jeeves series by PG Wodehouse
Chosen by Sebastian Faulks
The only book that’s ever literally made me fall out of bed laughing is Towards the End of the Morning by Michael Frayn. I read it when I was about 26 and working on an old Fleet Street newspaper very like the one described in the novel. The passage that inflicted lifelong lumbar spine damage was old Eddie Moulton’s swansong, in which he remembers the great journalists of the past. One day, I really must get round to suing the author for all my osteopath bills.
Before that, The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis made me snort, shudder and chortle with embarrassed glee. It took the narcissistic young man’s comic novel to such new heights that it essentially killed off the genre – for which, many thanks. Also for “I … waved, with sinister, beckoning motions” and all that.
Terry Wogan read the Gussie Fink-Nottle prize-giving speech at Cheltenham – you could hear the laughter in Birmingham
Sebastian FauksAnd earliest of all were PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories. I have never been able to tune in to Lord Emsworth, but the Jeeves-Wooster relationship has a tensely comic energy. A few years ago, I heard Terry Wogan read the famous Gussie Fink-Nottle prize-giving speech to a large audience at the Cheltenham festival. They say you could hear the laughter in Birmingham.