Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Personal Memories of Seve

In Books, Sport on 7 May 2011 at 19:03

Along with other sports lovers I have been saddened by the loss of Severiano Ballesteros after he died from a brain tumour diagnosed three years ago, aged just 54. He was a terrific golfer, a professional’s professional, and a great character. His passing will be a huge loss to golf and sport in general.

I have my own fond memories of Seve. From 1986-1994 I was the official photographer for Dunhill at the British Masters Golf tournament held at Woburn Golf & Country Club. I met him for the first time in 1986 in the tent  assigned to my team on the 1st tee at the ProAm event that preceded the main tournament. Seve had been teamed with a rather nervous Tim Brooke-Taylor, the former Goodie, who was concerned about how his golf might stand up to scrutiny playing in the same foursome as the great master. Tim had cut his hand while searching for a ball while warming up on the practice ground, and as my wife applied first-aid to his injury, they were filmed by TV cameras which only caused Tim further trepidation. Seve won the Masters that year and returned to play in the tournament several times more, winning again in 1991.

Tim Brooke-Taylor need not have worried; accordingly he told me later that Seve had been amazing and had been a calm influence on him and the other team members throughout the 18 holes by giving them all a great deal of encouragement that boosted their confidence.

I had taken a photograph of Tim with Seve (seen here) before they teed-off and I was privileged when Tim asked if he could use this to illustrate the back cover of his book Tim Brooke-Taylor’s Golf Bag. When the book was published in 1989, to mark the occasion I invited Tim to my studio after the ProAm event where I presented him with a framed canvas bonded print of the photograph. I was thrilled when he took the trouble to write to say the photograph took pride of place above the fireplace at his Berkshire home.

Over the years Seve’s command of English that seemed at first limited appeared to improve – sufficiently in fact to tick me off on one occasion for unthinkingly placing myself in his eye line as he was about to make a putt. I got the rough end of his tongue but he was suitably gracious to exchange some pleasant banter about he had finished playing for the day. Despite a tiring round that had not completely gone his way he willingly gave his time before returning to his hotel to be photographed by me with various competition winners that had won tickets for the Masters. He didn’t have to do this; and while others on the golf circuit may have refused, Seve had time for his fans.

As a photographer I worked with Seve on four or five occasions. I always found him to be easy going, polite and ready to share a joke when off the course – but during the tournament, when concentrating, he could sometimes be feisty. But Seve Ballesteros was always thoroughly professional and gained everybody’s respect and was extremely well liked.  His passing marks the end of a legend.

330 Days – The Uncensored War in Iraq

In Books on 29 March 2011 at 15:01

A Photo Documentary
Christopher Durante & Julian Van Bellinghen
Published by: World Audience Publishers – New York
258 pages – A4 format – paperback
ISBN: 978-1-935444-43-5

Book Reviewed by: Robert Bluffield

This is essentially a picture book that documents the coalition’s involvement in Iraq from the US soldier’s viewpoint. It is certainly not for the faint hearted as it contains some extremely poignant, but necessary, images of dismembered bomb victims and those caught in street fighting and ambushes. The only text contained in the book is short and forms only the captions that explain each of the photographs, but there is little need for words because the images, in the main, speak volumes about the total barbarity of war. The book is hard hitting, harsh and concerning and clearly will shock but they show some of the real dangers the coalition troops were exposed to in Iraq and now in Afghanistan.

330 days (presumably the period one of the authors served in Iraq) sets out to put the viewer on the front line by attempting to show the realities of a country that will probably never recover from the devastation caused by a dreadful regime and a tyrant leader that was devised to release the Iraqi people. It has failed of course and while there are the infighting between the Ba’ath, Sunni and Shia continues there will never be peace. The images, taken by active soldiers with ordinary inexpensive cameras, as the co-authors state, are of a kind that any newspaper would never dare publish, and they are right. The nature of many of the photographs will, no doubt, also cause embarrassment for the US Government who dislikes the true horrors of the conflict being exposed to the electorate.
The authors are clearly making a statement by publishing this book but it does leave me wondering who will buy it? As a documentary of what US military personnel have experienced on the streets of Baghdad it works well but I am not quite sure where, because of the gruesome images contained in the book, will fit into most buyers’ bookcases. The cover should, in any event carry a public warning because some people who open the book will be disturbed by many of the photographs that show blown off body parts and entrails that are the result of a violent explosion of shooting. Nevertheless, there is bound to be an audience for a book that holds back no punches to reveal reasons why so many coalition troops have been psychologically damaged by their experiences in this war.

Broken Britain is Progressing

In Books, Books by Robert Bluffield, Broken Britain, Government, Politics, Social History, State of the Nation on 2 November 2010 at 17:55

Although the nation may not be showing too many signs of progressing, the same cannot be said for my new book.

Following the success of ‘Imperial Airways: The Birth of the British Airline Industry 1914-1940′ published in October 2010 by Ian Allan, this time I have altered track to write about another of my interests; politics in a social history context. The new book currently has a working title ‘BROKEN BRITAIN IN THE 21st CENTURY – The First Decade’ although this may subsequently change. The manuscript is well on the way to completion and I will soon be looking for an agent to assist me with finding a suitable publisher.

I have also launched a brand new blog to solicit comments on subjects readers may feel should be discussed in the book.  I do hope you will join me in discussing the major issues such as the NHS, the running of the railways, criminal justice, education, defence as well as some of the minor irritations that are affecting our lives.