The Secrets We Keep




Jonathan Harvey is a comedy writer who to date has written more than one hundred episodes of Coronation Street. Kathy Burke recently recommended “The Secrets We Keep” on Twitter. I love Corrie and I love Kathy Burke and that is how I ended up with Harvey’s fourth novel in my hands.

This is the story of Danny Bioletti, his wife Natalie and their children Owen and Cally. Five years ago Danny went out for a pint of milk and never came back. His devastated family were left to pick up the pieces living in the glare of the media on a posh new estate with over-friendly, nosey neighbours. After his disappearance Danny’s car was found at Beachy Head and so is presumed by all to have taken his life. But when the family find a left luggage ticket in the pocket of one of his old coats, Natalie starts to wonder if he is actually still alive and if he is, where could he be? She begins her own whirlwind of investigations and needless to say, she doesn’t like all that she finds.

The plot is superb, expertly interweaving the central characters with each other’s backstories, one discovered secret leading to another. There’s booming nightclubs, child abuse, teenage modelling, gay relationships, alcoholism, rags to riches and back again. Their stories come to life through Harvey taking on the distinctive voices of each of the four characters for their own chapters full of hoarded secrets, making this a really good read full of unexpected twists and turns. Continue reading

So this is permanence



so this is permancenc

This is a superbly presented book containing the personal writings of one of the most influential songwriters and performers of the late 20th Century – Joy Division’s Ian Curtis.

So this is permanence is a collection put together by Jon Savage and Deborah Curtis from Ian’s surviving lyrics, notes, fan mail, fanzines and book covers from his personal library. As a huge Joy Division fan and an admirer of great lyricists, I could not wait to get my hands on it.

In the late 1970s, Manchester was an industrial city in decline. During this time, Ian Curtis isolated himself with his books and his writing. His songs were groundbreaking and his band became the iconic sound of that time. All the product of the scribbled on office paper he used to carry around in a plastic bag.


In my opinion, his lyrics presented here don’t just reflect his personal struggles with depression, epilepsy and stage-fright, but are also proof of how influenced he was by literature. He read widely from Holocaust fiction to Oscar Wilde.

“The words are untouchable, unreachable, perfect, unsettling, unique, beautiful. They are poetry but I want to claim them for rock.” (Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers)

“When Ian found his direction, the notebooks, the scraps of paper, the plastic carrier bag became and extension of his body…his lyrics tell much more than a conversation with him ever could.”                  (Deborah Curtis, wife) Continue reading

A Taste of Morrissey


As you may have already sensed from this blog, I am a huge Morrissey fan. It was the legendary singer and a recent trip to The Lowry giftshop in Manchester that finally led me to buying and reading this highly acclaimed play.

Morrissey famously once said; “I’ve never made any secret of the fact that at least 50 per cent of my reason for writing can be blamed on Shelagh Delaney.” Set in the ‘today’ of her northern, industrial Salford you can see why A Taste of Honey appeals so greatly to him. Delaney was a solo female voice in a wave of 1950s gritty British writing as Morrissey (in my opinion) has often been the only voice in contemporary gritty British song-writing.

A Taste of Honey was Shelagh Delaney’s first play and one that she is most remembered for. It received huge critical and commercial success at the time which led to the 1961 film adaptation scripted by Delaney herself.

The play is a poignant and simple story about teenage Jo, and the fiery relationship she has with her irresponsible mother, Helen. Jo becomes pregnant by a Nigerian sailor who soon leaves her. Gay art student Geoffrey moves in to help Jo with the baby after Helen runs off with her latest fancy-man. Jo remains resilient and optimistic throughout their grim existence in her shabby Salford lodgings.

It was the first play to feature a black man and gay man and became regarded as ahead of its time due its progressive understanding of social and sexual outsiders. Ahead of and of its time it maybe, but that does nothing to diminish its dialogue and themes as a great read for here and now. The exchanges between Jo and Helen are sharp, witty, cruel and equally peppered with dramatic revelations and the stuff of everyday grind.

I loved it. I found it funny and tragic and at turns a harrowing reminder of how times and attitudes have changed.

More on A Taste of Honey’s influence on Morrissey and The Smiths

Shelagh Delaney was the cover star of The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs and Girlfriend in a Coma. This, her most congratulated play and one that he has boasted he can recite word-for-word, was “a massive influence” on Morrissey and his lyrics as you’ll see from the lines below; Continue reading

Moz Mania!




Morrissey means just everything.

His music is a crutch, an emotional blanket.

It’s there when nobody else is or when you just need familiar words

(Olivia, Morrissey fan)

Dickie Felton is a Morrissey devotee from Liverpool. Morrissey International Airport is his story of following Moz on tour to 10 gigs in 10 towns in 5 countries. From Dunoon to Dallas, he covered 12,000 miles during Morrissey’s tour of far off places.

dickiefeltonHis book is full of shared stories, tales and experiences from fans all over the world who devote their lives to the legendary Smiths singer’s every move.

Often quiffed, tattooed and rocking the double denim look, The Moz Army  are world-renowned for their globe-trotting passionate pilgrimages. For them, no Moz gig is a gig too far.

But what motivates Moz mania? Why has Margaret from Fresno travelled 5,000 miles for a handshake with a 54-year-old pop star? I can understand it, as will most who read this book. But it’s also a great read for anyone who can’t fathom why we fling ourselves at stage barriers, write him silly notes, blow the overdraft and endure the endless pity of our loved ones for the sake of seeing up close what others perceive as a miserable old bugger.

Little do they know! Continue reading