Sunday, 23 November 2014

From Sexton Blake to Joshua Dillard ; A Man from New Zealand and a Nineteenth Century Detective



Semper Novus Keith Chapman. This blog is always pleasesd to hear from the excellent Mr Chapman, a great literary survivor whose career began at the Sexton Blake Library and continued through the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine, publisher Odhams, assorted magazines, newspapers and comics and ultimately to Black Horse Westerns.

Despite recent health problems, our lad is still going strong and still productive. Recent actvities include Witchery ; A Duo of Weird Tales (as Keith Chapman), and e-book re-issues of Peace at any Price  and The Lawman and the Songbird (as Chap O`Keefe).



As luck would have it, he`s recently been intervieewed online and the results can be found at http://tommcnulty.blogspot.com . Part One (Sexton Blake Library, Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine) was posted on Saturday 8 Nov 2014 and Part Two (Black Horse Westerns) was posted on Friday 14 Nov 2014.



In a recent e-mail, Keith drew my attention to his character Joshua Dillard , a Pinkertons` Detective ( a profession once pursued in real life  by writer Dashiell Hammett ) whose adventures are chronicled in The Lawman and the Songbird and many others ;


"You could say that after all these years I`m still trying to fly the flag for hardboiled mystery, albeit my detective Joshua Dillard , unlike Sexton Blake, operates only in the 19th century !"



The handsome young fellow on the left of this picture is Keith `Chap O`Keefe` Chapman, at
that time editor of the Edgar Wallace Mystery Magazine. He is showing the proposed artwork for an edition of the EWMM to Wallaces` son and daughter. 


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Jamie Joseph - Nottingham Riverside Festival 3 August 2014









Each year around this time I`ve been in the habit of reviewing the bands that appear at the Beeston Summer in the Square (Music in the Square) season, an series of events that has attracted a varied assortment of artists, ranging from covers bands ( Joe Strange, JT4, 60s R Us), blues man Raphael Achache, jazz songstress Jeannie Barton, the African vibes of Bana Congo and Les Elus, eclectic folk people Carmina and many, many more.

Sadly, Broxtowe Borough Council is not putting those events on this year but fortunately my life is not a total cultural wasteland as I recently caught a live set by Derby-based soul dude Jamie Joseph.



                                                                       Jamie Joseph


It`s a funny thing about me and soul music - I`ve seen and enjoyed a number of pretty impressive soul acts live, including Edwin Starr, Martha Reeves and David Ruffin but I rarely listen to it at home. 

You might think that having seen some seriously soulful live shows I wouldn`t be impressed by young Jamie and his band. You would be totally wrong.

I don`t usually review anything that`s not fresh in my mind but I`m making an exception as it`s pretty easy to recall the sheer range of his voice, which can find it`s way from growling low notes to  higher-pitched, more sensitive phrases without apparent difficulty. `Apparent` may be the key word, however, as at the end he was hampered in addressing a few words to the audience by the fact his speaking voice was playing up.

I`ll be honest and admit that most of the material he performed was unfamiliar to me and a lot of the time I had no idea which songs were covers and which were originals. Nevertheless if you`re looking for soulfulness coupled with commitment, Jamie`s your lad !

On the Web ; 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJk9hgQopeo


http://vimeo.com/62543125



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Take4views Exhibition - D H Lawrence Heritage Centre - Derbyshire Artists

The D H Lawrence Heritage Centre was formerly known as Durban House and is best known as the place where the young D H Lawrence was sometimes sent to collect his dad`s wages, and for the well-organised campaign against it`s proposed closure some time ago (see `Save Durban House, Eastwood` posted 17 Nov 2010 at http://angpav.blogspot.com ).  

In the event a solution was found whereby Nottingham University took over the running of the site from the local council and the venue is now considered something of a success.

This is the first time I have visited in quite a while. My first impression was that little has changed. The staff are friendly and helpful, the admission fee is reasonable and the heritage exhibition seemed much as I remembered it.

The standing exhbition refers to Lawrence, his friends, family and associates. There are pictures of Lawrence and his associates `The Pagans`, including W E Hopkin, a reproduced 19th centry classroom and more in the same vein. Perhaps inevitably, part of the display refers to Lawrence`s essay Nottingham and the Mining Countryside.

Of particular interest to me was a display of books and records relating to Lawrence`s work including a book about the Lady Chatterley Trial edited by C H Rolph (C R Hewitt).

One proviso I would make if you`re considering a visit, I personally would not take a particularly young child as there are a number of small, portable items on display within easy reach of young hands and in my experience only the most saintly of children will resist the  temptation to do something unexpected with a plastic carrot given the opportunity !

On now to the Rainbow Gallery, on the same floor as the heritage exhibition, where we encounter the work of four local artists ; Janice Allen, Martin Sloman, Karina Goodman and Ruth Gray.

Karina Goodman is a painter of landscapes who had only a small number of works on display compared to the others. It would have been helpful to have a wider range of her works available. I hope she will forgive me if I say the few that were to be found didn`t really appeal to me. Then again, artistic appreciation is an unpredictable aardvark and my taste may not be yours.

Martin Sloman is a painter with ten years` experience. In general I would say he is more than competent in a variety of styles but this comes at a price and one is left with no clear idea who he is artistically. Having said that, his Venice by Night is absolutely stunning and one of the high points of the exhibition.

Ruth Gray is a professional freelance artist. Some of her street scenes can look a bit wooden  (an exception is the excellent Heading to Nuthall After Rush Hour) but she makes excellent use of colour in some of her others, particularly Evening Puddles at Belper Tennis Club, Lanterns and Candles at Ashbourne and Autumn Impression at Matlock Bath.

For me the star of this show is Janice Allen, a self-taught artist who describes herself as motivated by "enthusiasm and the desire to paint". My personal favourite of hers was On the Top (Winter Freeze)  though I thought it would have been better placed elsewhere in the exhibition as it`s one where you need to stand back a bit to see it properly. Others that impressed me were Amber Glow, Amongst the Trees and Sense of Solitude. Whether she is technically the best artist to be found here I don`t know, but her passion for painting really shines through. Would appeal to lovers of nature and the great outdoors, which is probably why I like them.

If you do visit the DHLHC, don`t forget to have a look at From Eastwood to the World by Nottingham-based artist Dr Ala Bashir , a very striking work which overlooks the stairs. This was of particular interest to me personally as in fact I own a painting by a Nottingham-based artist named Bashir. I suspect that`s just co-incidence however.

Take4views runs until 24 Aug 2014. The DHLHC can be found at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/dhlheritage/index.aspx




   

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Action Mesothelioma Day 2014





A few years ago one of my friends died as a result of exposure to asbestos whilst working as a roofer during his mis-spent youth.

For that reason I like to do my bit each year to pubicise the annual Action Mesothelioma Day.

This years` event takes place on Friday 4 July 2014 and there will be various activities up and down the country.

For more information contact either Debbie Neale or Jill Lemon via www.mesothelioma.uk.com



Commonwealth Interlude





 
I`m guessing for most people if you mention the Commonwealth they think of the Commonwealth Games and little else. They may have a vague idea that it`s some kind of international forum with little relevance to their lives.
 
In fact for many people nothing could be further from the truth.
 
A recent newspaper article* makes the point very well ;
 
 " While the Commonwealth Games are heading to the UK this summer, businesses in the East Midlands are heading to the Commonwealth."
 
 
 
 
The article goes on to look at the value of exports from the East Midlands to the Commonwealth during the period April 2013 - March 2014.
 
The bigger players are hardly surprising - exports from the region to South Africa were valued accounted for £147.1 million, and Australia accounted for a further £239.5 million.
 
Exports to Kenya came to £27.2 million , not too surprising perhaps as this is not so far different to the previous years` figure (an increase of around 12% as I recall).
 
Two Commonwealth countries had increassed their level of imports from the East Midlands quite dramatically ( in percentage terms ) - exports from the E Mids to Cameroon increased by 26.4% to £2.1 million and the figure for Pakistan was even higher - a 30% increase to £36.6 million.
 
 
 
 
 
Now that`s just the figure for the East Midlands, a relatively small part of the UK as a whole. You might argue that the figures will tend to be high for a region with a heavy manufacturing presence, and that other regions may produce rather different figures. It`s worth remembering though that the E  Mids is quite diverse -Lincolnshire is very different to other parts of the region for instance.
 
Of course, The Commonwealth is not just about business, anymore than it is just about culture or just about sport and athletics.
 
Lists of Commonwealth-related organisations** contain an extraordinary array of different organisations and interest groups. With a range of interests that include boxing, architecture, paediatric gastroenterology and museum administration, there`s certainly quite a bit to go at !   
 
Without wanting to re-tread old ground, here are a few Commonwealth-related links you might find interesting ;
 
Global (Global Briefing) - http://www.global-briefing.org
 
Commonwealth Foundation - http://commonwealthfoundation.com
 
Commonwealth Countries League - http://www.ccl-int.org/Index.aspx
 
Commonwealth Business Council - http://www.cbcglobal.org
 
Any grouping of nations is bound to be prone to the odd falling-out, and the Commonwealth has seen a few of these in its` time. However that may be its` pretty clear the ties that hold the Commonwealth together have proved pretty durable overall.   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* Unsigned - Regions` Exports to the Commonwealth Soaring - Nottingham Evening Post 9 June 2014 
 

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Some Viaducts I Have Known











Here are pictures of a couple of viaducts I have bonded with. Above is Larpool Viaduct, Whitby, the top photograph taken by self, the lower photograph taken by Mrs Nick.

Below are pictures of Bennerley Viaduct on the Notts/Derbyshire border. I am always surprised to see how sombre Bennerley Viaduct looks in pictures as it is near my home and I have nothing but happy memories of visiting it with family and friends.








Should you wish to enlarge your experience of the nations` viaductical delights, here are some links you might like ;

www.railwaypaths.org.uk

http://transportheritage.com/find-heritage-locations.html

www.forgottenrelics.co.uk










Walter Tyrer 1900 - 1978







Many crime fiction buffs will no doubt share my fondness for the adventures of fictional sleuth Sexton Blake.

For what it`s worth, I never think of those stories as being `retro` and I don`t appreciate them with any sense of `post-modern irony` or wotnot. I leave that sort of thing to others.

Vintage crimestopper Blake was interpreted by many different writers over the years, one of my favourites being the late Walter Tyrer.

I`ve posted reviews of Walters` works here, there and everywhere but only recently have I been able to provide a potted biog.

To see the result of my efforts, look for `Walter Tyrer ; A Writers` Life, posted a couple of days ago at http://thesextonblakeblog.blogspot.com .




                                                       Walter Tyrer (1956 publicity shot). Thanks to Ray Elmitt for providing this.