bookshelves: london, lifestyles-deathstyles, britain-england, published-1956, winter-20132014, contemporary
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from January 04 to 12, 2014
BBC Blurb: Sam Selvon’s rich and touching 1956 novel about the lives of a group of Caribbean immigrants in London opens as Moses Aloetta, an old hand who has lived in the city for ten years, goes to Waterloo station to meet another boat train of hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies. They’ve come to find work and wealth in the capital of the mother country, but they meet with a cold welcome and bitter weather. Despite this, Moses and his friends of the Windrush generation go about making new lives for themselves with vigour and panache, navigating the rules and regulations of their new home, lending support to each other when needed, learning to survive; it’s not long before, as Moses puts it, ‘the boys coming and going, working, eating, sleeping, going about the vast metropolis like veteran Londoners.’
The Lonely Londoners will be broadcast the week before Colin MacInnes’ vibrant novel about London, Absolute Beginners, set just a couple of years later as racial tensions rise; together the two books offer an unforgettable portrait of a city and a society undergoing convulsive change.
Reader: Don Warrington Abridged by Lauris Morgan-Griffiths Producer: Sara Davies.
1. Don Warrington reads Sam Selvon’s 1950’s classic about the lives of a group of Caribbean immigrants in London.
2. Moses has met Sir Galahad off the boat train at Waterloo and sets about introducing him to his new home. Galahad is keen to show he’s not overawed by London, but a trip to the employment exchange leaves him in need of Moses’ help.
3. Moses’s friend Tolroy was horrified when his entire family turned up at Waterloo, wanting to enjoy his new prosperity in London. He has eventually got them settled off the Harrow Road, and Aunt Tanty is rapidly becoming a well-known character in the area. But she still hasn’t ventured into the centre if the city by tube or bus, something that she decides to remedy.
4. Galahad is getting on well in London, in fact he sometimes feels like a king as he strolls through the park, three or four pounds in his pocket, sharp clothes on, off to meet a new girl under the clock in Piccadilly tube station. But there’s a darker side to the city, and a hungrier one, that prompts Galahad into a high-risk exploit.
5. As summer comes to the city, Moses’s friend Harris organises a dance, and Moses contemplates his life after ten years in London.
Listen here. Theme tune: LORD KITCHENER – London Is the Place for Me
That is the first time I have noticed a broadcasting mistake – they aired #3 on Tuesday and #2 on Wednesday. Keeps us on our toes!