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HomeCultureBooksYour best Bette is a real superstar

Your best Bette is a real superstar

Lena Davis has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.

Some of us still remember when going to the cinema was an occasion and the Stars glittered as brightly as any in the sky. Nowadays, of course, going to the cinema is an expensive, torturous and often disappointing experience which few of are able to face. Truly, you have to be an actual superhero to make it through to watching an endless supply of cinema main fare today. Usually celluloid superheroes or Disney fodder for the kids.

All of this was brought back to me on reading “Miss D & Me – Life with the Invincible Bette Davis” by Kathryn Sermak (published by Hachette Books paperback £11.78). This is a feast of a book chronicling those last ten years of Bette Davis’s life which she shared with the author. Kathryn was first hired as a kind of inexperienced secretary but soon found herself as one of Bette Davis’s closest friends. What’s more, she became part of the family, almost an additional daughter for Bette, and found herself learning about life from an absolute master.

Bette Davis was probably the biggest star of her time and her only set-back, which proved out of her control, was being turned down for the lead in “Gone With the Wind”. She vowed that such a thing would never happen again and, indeed, it did not.

Nowadays, in this Country, our only true women Stars shine on stage and television. Such as Keeley Hawes, Sarah Lancashire, Nicola Walker, Suranne Jones, Sheridan Smith, etc, etc. British filmmakers these days seem to focus on making films on such subjects as groups of Cornish fishermen who sing folk songs or re-enacting the war. Occasionally, Keira Knightley gets a look in but, I’m sure, even she wouldn’t consider herself anywhere near as alluring and talented as our Keeley and co.

And now, as they say, for something completely different. “How Not to be a Doctor” by John Launer (published by Duckworth Overlook £14.99 hardback and, when available, a lot less in paperback). John Launer himself is one of those increasing rarities, particularly in Northamptonshire, a General Practitioner. He is also on the senior staff of the Tavistock Clinic and one of the best known columnists of the British medical press. Perhaps, most importantly of all, this collection of essays are instructive, entertaining, mind expanding and eminently readable.

The book contains more than fifty essays covering a range of topics including music, poetry, literature and psychoanalysis plus insights on medical politics and the personal experience of being a doctor.
With our wonderful NHS struggling to keep afloat and our formerly wonderful general practitioner services disintegrating by the day, this is a good time to read these essays. I only wish that powerful politicians would take the time to digest its contents and act quickly to repair the very fabric of British life.

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