The Thrill of it All by Joseph O’Connor

bookshelves: summer-2014, music, published-2014, autumn-2014, britain-england, luton, newtome-author

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from August 23 to September 06, 2014

 

BABT

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f9lmn

BBC description: Spanning 25 years, Joseph O’ Connor’s new novel The Thrill of It All rewinds and fast-forwards through an evocative soundtrack of struggle and laughter. It deals with the formation of a band in the early 80’s in Luton, their struggle for recognition, playing low dives, living in transit vans culminating in overnight worldwide success. Then the inevitable, “artistic differences!”

This is an incredibly warm-hearted and uplifting story for anyone who has ever loved a song.

Author ….. Joseph O’Connor
Abridger ….. Neville Teller
Producer ….. Gemma McMullan

The Author: Joseph O’Connor is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls, Ghost Light and The Thrill of it All. He has also written radio diaries, film scripts and stage-plays including the multiple award-winning Red Roses and Petrol and an acclaimed adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel My Cousin Rachel.

His novel Star of the Sea was an international bestseller, selling more than a million copies and being published in 38 languages. It won France’s Prix Millepages, Italy’s Premio Acerbi, the Irish Post Award for Fiction, the Neilsen Bookscan Golden Book Award, an American Library Association Award, the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Hall of Fame Award, and the Prix Litteraire Zepter for European Novel of the Year. His novel Ghost Light was chosen as Dublin’s One City Book novel for 2011. He received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012.

1/10 October 1981 in Luton, and Robert Goulding first meets his ‘glimmertwin’ Francis Mulvey.

2/10 On Rob’s 19th birthday, life is about to change when he meets Trez.

3/10 The trio turn their attention to finding the band’s ‘unbeatable drummer’.

4/10 An unexpected windfall for Fran prompts the band to make a go of it.

5/10 Are the fortunes of the band about to change?

6/10 After being dropped by their London music label, the band try their luck stateside.

7/10 With the release of the album in New York, the Ships look set for global stardom.

8/10 Twenty-five years later, and Robbie’s life is very different to his former music career.

9/10 Robbie receives a surprising invitation to Dublin by his former bandmate Fran.

10/10 At the reunion concert in Dublin, will Robbie hold his nerve?

I thought the story really started to fly once the band had broken up and we zoom twenty-five years to see just who is doing what. Before that it was an okay sort of read but nothing special, a cliche almost.

Apache Indian – Boom Shakalaka for dancing with the nurse in hospital.

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Piece Of My Heart by Peter Robinson

bookshelves: published-2006, mystery-thriller, britain-england, e-book, summer-2014, film-only, series, music, yorkshire

Read from August 17 to 18, 2014

 

Description: The body of journalist Matt Barber, found in a chalet deep within the hills of a remote village, connect Banks to the death of John Gaunt, a guitarist for a band known as ‘The Crystal Kiss’, who died during the 1980s. His band-mate, and best friend, Martin Hareford, was sent to prison on the grounds of manslaughter, serving five years for Gaunt’s death. Banks finds himself not only investigating Matt Barber’s death, but re-opening the Gaunt case in order to identify the potential cover-up which is threatening to hide the truth behind Barber’s death. As he finds himself raking over bad memories for those involved, DI Morton finds herself suspicious of Barber’s father Jack, who was the investigating officer in the Gaunt case, who extracted a confession from Martin Hareford. However, when the files reveal the confession has disappeared, DI Morton suspects that Jack has more to do with his son’s death than he is letting on.

3* Gallows View (Inspector Banks, #1)
3* A Dedicated Man (Inspector Banks, #2)
3* A Necessary End (Inspector Banks, #3)
TR The Hanging Valley (Inspector Banks, #4)
TR Past Reason Hated (Inspector Banks, #5)
3* Wednesday’s Child (Inspector Banks, #6)
3* Dry Bones That Dream (Inspector Banks, #7)
3* Innocent Graves (Inspector Banks, #8)
TR Blood At The Root (Inspector Banks, #9)
TR In A Dry Season (Inspector Banks, #10)
3* Cold Is The Grave (Inspector Banks, #11)
4* Aftermath (Inspector Banks, #12)
TR Close To Home (Inspector Banks, #13)
3* Playing With Fire (Inspector Banks, #14)
3* Strange Affair (Inspector Banks, #15)
3* Piece Of My Heart (Inspector Banks, #16)
3* Friend Of The Devil (Inspector Banks, #17)
TR All The Colours Of Darkness (Inspector Banks, #18)
TR Bad Boy (Inspector Banks, #19)

Pennies from Heaven by Dennis Potter, Kenith Trodd (Introduction)

bookshelves: play-dramatisation, film-only, under-50-ratings, summer-2014, period-piece, britain-england, forest, music

Read from June 07 to 17, 2014


1978 mini-series

Pennies from Heaven (1978)TV Mini-Series

IMDB description: Arthur, a sheet music salesman, has an ear for the hit tunes, but nobody will trust it. And his imagination often bursts into full song, building musical numbers around the greatest frustrations in his life. He meets an innocent young school teacher, Eileen, who seems to hear the same music, but when Eileen learns that he’s married, and that she’s pregnant with his child, she runs away. Arthur gives up everything to find and protect her, but fate and the music haven’t finished with Arthur Parker. – Written by Kathy Li

Bob Hoskins
Gemma Craven
Nigel Havers

Theme Tune

The bits that my better half finds so ugly are the singing interludes, those songs of the times that further the story along and explain innermost thoughts. Personally, I love the Royal Forest of Dean setting for Arthur’s alternative life.

Yes, this is a dated offering but it is one that I have waited a long time to see. Potter was one of the ground-breaking social-realism playwrights. No doubt Mimal will like the Singing Detective better when we get to it. Episode details that follow are taken exclusively from wiki:

Part 1 ‘Down Sunnyside Lane’: In the mid-1930s, Arthur and Joan Parker (Bob Hoskins and Gemma Craven) are an incompatible married couple living in the London suburbs. Arthur, a travelling sheet music salesman, is a passionate man who is frustrated by his wife’s repressed nature. On a car journey to the Gloucester area he picks up ‘the accordion man’, a vagrant (Kenneth Colley) who invariably busks on the instrument in the vicinity of the other characters, but the signs of the man’s mental illness soon lead Arthur to reject him after they spend several hours together. While trying to persuade a shopkeeper (Arnold Peters) to take some of his goods, Arthur notices a female customer with whom he immediately becomes besotted. Arthur and ‘the accordion man’ both manage to frighten the young woman. Before returning to London, Arthur has sex with Marjorie, a Gloucestershire prostitute (Rosemary Martin) in the back of his car.

Part 2 ‘The Sweetest Thing’: Arthur’s bank manager (Peter Cellier) refuses to give him a loan. Eileen Everson (Cheryl Campbell), the woman he encountered, is a junior school teacher in the Forest of Dean who lives with her widowed coal mining father and two brothers, also miners. Meanwhile, Arthur has returned to the area to trace the woman he is obsessed with. He finally encounters Eileen in a wood near the Everson’s cottage, and returns to their home where Arthur claims his wife has died in a motorcycle accident. He and Eileen eventually make love after the rest of the household have gone to bed.

Part 3 ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’: The Parker’s marriage briefly revives after Joan smears lipstick on her nipples, and appears to respond to some of her husband’s sexual fantasies. Joan is persuaded to use her inheritance to finance Arthur’s desire to open a record shop. Meanwhile, Eileen has discovered she is pregnant and is forced to give up her job. After unexpectedly meeting a young blind girl (Yolande Palfrey) in a field, whom he lusts after under his breath, Arthur reappears at the Everson family home, and his relationship with Eileen revives. The blind girl is raped and murdered, for which Arthur is arrested, but soon released. Eileen moves to London, but she has though lost contact with Arthur again.

“Part 4 Better Think Twice”

Almost destitute, Eileen eats little and is in arrears for her cheap hotel room. She meets the superficially sympathetic Tom (Hywel Bennett), a wealthy man with no obvious occupation, and becomes dependent upon him. Arthur opens his new record shop, but he has very few customers, an exception being Tom. The two men get along very well, and Arthur delivers some records to the apartment where Eileen is recovering from an (illegal) abortion paid for by Tom, but the couple are not reunited. Arthur later glimpses Eileen in the pub where she had met Tom, and they leave for the record shop. Unaware of Arthur’s connection to Tom, Eileen explains that the man who paid for her abortion now has a hold over her, and he intends to be her pimp. The couple decide they have to escape from London, and shatter Arthur’s stock of fragile shellac discs.

“Part 5 Painting the Clouds”

A police inspector (Dave King) visits Joan after Arthur’s unexplained disappearance and the destruction of his retail stock. Her comments about Arthur’s sexual tastes, particularly his wish for his wife to move around the house without wearing her knickers, lead the police to make a connection with the murder of the blind girl whose undergarment had been removed. ‘The accordion man’ is haunted by her image and his responsibility for the murder. (It is clear he is not delusional over this event.) He is disorientated when running into Eileen while she is street walking; the dead girl bears a resemblance to her. Arthur is now living off Eileen’s immoral earnings, and she is a client of a Conservative MP, Major Archibald Paxville (Ronald Fraser), who she unsuccessfully attempts to blackmail. ‘The accordion man’ commits suicide, probably by throwing himself off Hammersmith Bridge (which also features ominously in The Singing Detective), and his corpse is discovered. Arthur and Eileen’s false optimism for the future is dashed when they see a newspaper headline indicating he is wanted for murder.

“Part 6 Says My Heart”

Arthur and Eileen are on the run. They spend the night in a barn, but Eileen’s attempt to find help eventually leads her to shoot dead a lonely and deranged farmer (Philip Locke). They feed and clean themselves in his farmhouse, and scavenge through the man’s possessions for money and things they can sell. Leaving the farm Arthur stops, thinking he has seen ‘the accordion man’, but cannot restart their stolen car. Passing police take the couple in for questioning, and Arthur is charged with the murder of the blind girl. In the crown court inconsistencies in Arthur’s various accounts, and a witness unwittingly confusing Arthur’s fixation on Eileen for an obsession with the blind girl lead to his conviction and execution. After Eileen notes the time set for his hanging has passed, Arthur reappears and a happy ending is announced by the two characters.

CR Pennies from Heaven
5* The Changing Forest: Life in the Forest of Dean Today
TR The Singing Detective

A Broken Hallelujah: Rock and Roll, Redemption, and the Life of Leonard Cohen by Liel Leibovitz

bookshelves: published-2014, summer-2014, jewish, music, poetry, canada, biography, nonfiction, recreational-drugs

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from May 29 to June 06, 2014


BOTW

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0458063

Description: As Leonard Cohen turns 80, a new biography by Liel Leibovitz explores the life, work and passion of the poet-turned-musician. What makes Cohen such an enduring international figure in the cultural imagination?

Granted extraordinary access to Cohen’s personal papers, Leibovitz evokes a complicated, sometimes contradictory figure. Born into a Canadian religious Jewish family, for years a reclusive lyricist on the Greek island of Hydra, known for his bold political commentary, his devotion to Buddhist thought and his later despair over contemporary Zionism, Cohen hardly follows the rules of a conventional rock star.

Read by Julian Barrett, with Leonard Cohen quotes read by Colin Stinton.

Abridged by: Jo Coombs
Producer: Pippa Vaughan
A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Episode 1: An intimate look at a man who, despite battles with depression and years spent in hermit-like isolation, is still touring and now seems to be reaching a new peak of popularity. The loss of his father when he was just nine years old shaped the muscician forever.

Episode 2: Despite success as a poet, Cohen feels the need to escape to the Greek island of Hydra

Episode 3: Having altered the course of his life with the decision to start writing music, Cohen faces a creative struggle with those around him in the recording studio. Will the release of Bird on the Wire change his fortunes?

Episode 4: Disasters threaten Cohen’s first European tour, but in Buddhism he finds the spiritual solace which enables him to write the groundbreaking Hallelujah.

Episode 5: Cohen begins the 1990s as a hugely successful songwriter, poet and performer. Yet spiritual crises still plague him, and he retreats to the San Gabriel Mountains to spend time with his guru. By 2006, he’s forced to start touring again when evidence emerges that a long-time employee and friend may have stolen millions of dollars from him.

The music:

Story of Isaac
Hallelujah
So Long Marianne
Bird On A Wire
Suzanne
You know who I am
Avalanche
Lover, lover, lover
Dance Me to the End Of Love
GOING HOME which I could totally see Roger Waters covering

Dancing on the Edge by Stephen Poliakoff

bookshelves: summer-2014, film-only, play-dramatisation, published-2013, music, racism, cults-societies-brotherhoods, nazi-related, journalism, mystery-thriller, period-piece

Read from May 30 to 31, 2014


Description: The series follows a black jazz band’s experiences in London in the 1930s. Made up of talented musicians and managed by the compassionate yet short-tempered Wesley Holt, the band gets a gig at the Imperial Hotel, by the way of the cunning journalist, Stanley Mitchell. They prove to be a hit, and become a success at the hotel. Countless aristocrats—and the Royal Family—ask the band to play at parties. The media rush to interview and photograph the band—including the ambitious American businessman, Walter Masterson and his enthusiastic employee, Julian. The band’s success spirals, they’re being offered record deals. But tragedy strikes, setting off a chain of events that may wreck the band’s career.

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Matthew Goode
Angel Coulby
John Goodman
Anthony Head
Jacqueline Bisset
Composer: Adrian Johnston

(view spoiler)

That ending – there is a sequel in the pipeline, dontcha fink? Excellent fayre.

Dancing On The Edge: Mel Smith and Matthew Goode

My Poliakoff Past:

3* Shooting the Past
TR Blinded by the Sun
4.5* Playing With Trains
5* She’s Been Away
4* The Tribe
3* A Real Summer
5* Dancing on the Edge
2* Soft Targets

The Invention of Brazil by Misha Glenny

bookshelves: spring-2014, published-2014, nonfiction, travel, politics, filthy-lucre, anthropology, casual-violence, environmental-issues, fradio, gangsters, slaves, under-10-ratings, true-grime, south-americas, sleazy, revolution, religion, recreational-drugs, radio-4, music, lifestyles-deathstyles, history, colonial-overlords, bullies, brazil, art-forms, architecture, adventure, plague-disease, roman-catholic, sport, suicide

Read from May 02 to 19, 2014

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b042jcxs

Description: Forget the beach volleyball, carnival, and the rest – here’s the truth about Brazil. The murder rate is among the highest in the world. The economic inequality is visible wherever you go. Behind the happy cultural imagery there lies a much darker Brazil, the result of an extremely dark colonial history when this land was little more than a giant farm worked by slaves.

Misha Glenny and producer Miles Warde travel from the favela of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro up the coast to Salvador, the first capital of Brazil, and then back to Sao Paulo, economic powerhouse of the south. On the way they meet contributors including the anthropologist Peter Fry; Americo Martins of Rede TV; historian Lilia Schwarz; and bestselling author Laurentino Gomez. Further contributions from Luciana Martins, David Brookshaw and Patrick Wilcken, author of Empire Adrift.

From the team behind The Invention of Germany and The Invention of Spain.

Salvador. Most of the slaves to Brazil landed here. At that time, Salvador was the capitol.

São Paulo is a sprawling mass and is the modern economic hub of this vast country. It was from this area that the slavers worked to capture indigneous indians. Think ‘The Mission’, Portugeuse style.

Episode 1: BBC DESCRIPTION: In The Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny traces the gaps between the image and reality, beginning with the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500. More slaves were transported to Brazil than anywhere else, more than the United States, more than anywhere. “There were many Africans who served as interpreters,” Joao Reis explains, “who could tell the slaves: ‘You are not going to be eaten by those whites’. And that was the African fear – that they were being brought to an unknown world by whites where they would be eaten.”

Rocinha, the biggest slum in South America.

The favela borders Gavea, one of the richest areas of the city. The contrast is stark.

Episode 2: BBC DESCRIPTION: Misha Glenny continues his exploration of the little known but extraordinary events that have shaped Brazil. This week, two unexpected events in Brazil’s path to independence. The first occurred in 1808, when the entire Portuguese court moved across the Atlantic to escape Napoleon. They lived in Rio de Janeiro, which they enjoyed so much that they stayed on for another 13 years. The second occurred in 1822 when the King of Portugal’s son, Dom Pedro, declared ‘Independence or Death’, breaking Brazil free from her European overlords. We reveal that the British were heavily involved in both events.

Episode 3: BBC DESCRIPTION: From giant factory farm for Europeans to modern BRIC economy, the story of Brazil’s transformation is captured in this final programme in the life of Getulio Vargas – moderniser, dictator, and finally democratically elected president. In the final part of the Invention of Brazil, Misha Glenny explores the life of Vargas, the man who changed Brazil.

“I was struck by how short he was … the crowd went wild with adulation, an enormous mass of people. Their spontaneous shouts made me think I was in Italy, watching one of those fascist rallies.” Unnamed public official, seeing Vargas for the first time.

Vargas came to power in 1930 and proved an expert at keeping himself in power. Initially he styled himself on Mussolini – the story of why he took Brazil into the Second World War on the side of the Allies is central here. As also are the events leading up to his suicide while still in power. With contributions from anthropologist Lilia Schwarz, Professor David Brookshaw, Peter Fry, and author Ana Maria Machado whose father was arrested by Vargas several times.

“As quid pro quo for escorting the Portuguese across the Atlantic, the British ended up arm twisting the Portuguese royal court into signing a very one sided treaty, which in fact ended up giving the British more rights than the Brazilians themselves.” Patrick Wilcken, author Empire Adrift.

I enjoyed this three part documentary, however flister Laura, a Brazilian herself, rated this 2* so maybe this is not a rounded portrayal.

The Chessmen by Peter May

bookshelves: spring-2014, britain-scotland, hebridean, published-2012, tbr-busting-2014, e-book, music, mystery-thriller, nutty-nuut, gr-library, art-forms, series, poachers

Read from April 29 to 30, 2014


Lewis Chessmen in the British Museum

Description: Fin Macleod, now head of security on a privately owned Lewis estate, is charged with investigating a spate of illegal game-hunting taking place on the island. This mission reunites him with Whistler Macaskill – a local poacher, Fin’s teenage intimate, and possessor of a long-buried secret. But when this reunion takes a violent, sinister turn and Fin puts together the fractured pieces of the past, he realizes that revealing the truth could destroy the future.

Dedication: In loving memory of wee Jennifer

Opening: When Finn opened his eyes the interior of the ancient stone dwelling which had sheltered them from the storm was suffused with a strange pink light. Smoke drifted lazily into the still air from the almost dead fire and Whistler was gone.

Golden eagle.

I don’t want this to be the last book! I know, I know, the appearance of circumstances until now never mentioned when Finn’s background had been pretty much trawled is an author’s ploy to extend a story. Hands up in overt submission, this is the case here. I acknowledge, however this really is a story worth cottoning on to, so put those connivences aside and go with the ride, it is worth it.

From wiki:

The Iolaire was carrying sailors who had fought in the First World War back to the Scottish island of Lewis. She left the port of Kyle of Lochalsh on the mainland late on the evening of the 31 December 1918. But, at 2:30am on New Year’s Day, as the ship approached the port of Stornoway, a few yards offshore and a mile away from the safety of Stornoway Harbour, she hit the infamous rocks “The Beasts of Holm”.

The Beasts of Holm

3*The Blackhouse
5* The Lewis Man
4* The Chessmen

MB Entry Island

Stunning photos celebrate the stark cliffs, ghostly mists and lonely beaches of the Outer Hebrides … as seen through the eyes of the Lewis trilogy’s fictional hero