1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

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1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

1923: The Mystery of Lot 212 and a Tour de France Obsession

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But it is further evidence that Beeckman may not have been the most straightforward man to manage, after all. Witty, discursive, and tons of fun, Ned Boulting has the Tour de France under his skin, and you will too by the time you've read this ― Al Murray. Bradley struck gold with his debut, The Cat and the City; stories of loneliness in Tokyo connected by a strange, recurring cat.

Into this gloom came an unpromising curio – an old reel of unknown provenance up for auction, claiming to contain footage of a 1930s Tour de France. In fact, it closed on its opening night, and it would be a long time before it was performed again, except by puppeteers. It wasn’t Pélissier but this “Beckmann” – actually the Belgian Théo Beeckman – who most captivates Boulting, however. It sets him off in fascinating directions, encompassing travelogue, history, mystery story - to explain, to go deeper into this moment in time, captured on his little film.

The year of this photo is 1925, perhaps in the spring or even the late autumn as his bike is fitted with mudguards. Join him as he explores the history of cycling and France just five years after WWI – meeting characters like Henri Pélissier, who won the Tour that year but who would within the decade be shot dead by his wife's lover. When cycling commentator Ned Boulting bought a length of Pathe news film featuring a stage of the Tour de France from 1923 he set about learning everything he could about it – taking him on an intriguing journey that encompasses travelogue, history and detective story. This manic on-this-day-in-history ‘Not The 1923 Tour’ strand takes up a large part of 1923 and when you join the dots – see the pattern!

This book could be considered a dedication to the obsession that Boulting soon had to find out as much information as he could about the people in the film clip and the events surrounding that race. Beginning with a fragment of a century-old race, Ned has written a 'biography of the unknown rider'.

Biography: Ned Boulting is the UK's best known voice of cycling - he commentates on the Tour de France for ITV, and all other major cycling races.

The main sour note for me was all the moaning about covid lockdowns in the first quarter or so of the book - but perhaps in a few decades all those details will seem fascinating to readers that didn't themselves live through it. Ultimately, it’s the enthusiasm that proves most beguiling here, not only for doggedly uncovering facts with extremely limited clues, but for bringing back to the light a remote, unsung figure and honouring his life – and career – even though it wasn’t one of garlands or headlines. There’s the Seznec affaire, in which someone gets murdered and that is somehow linked to the very day of the Pathé newsreel by virtue of some piece of paperwork or other being signed by someone on that day. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice. There are a good many diversions from the main narrative that in themselves add to the total picture.In the autumn of 2020 Ned Boulting (ITV head cycling commentator and Tour de France obsessive) bought a length of Pathé news film from a London auction house. There is in part real-world, real-time sleuthing, as I drag my project into the light of the day, a century later. This book is not just a history of the Tour De France but also of the geopolitical situation that shapes it. But there were also generosity, joy, surprises, new friends and a happy ending which was, happily, not really an ending at all. The footage comes from the fourth stage of that year’s Tour, the 400-plus kilometre haul down from Brest to Les Sables d’Olonne.



  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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