Saturday, 15 August 2015

Reggae on the Rocks - Live in Nottingham 2 August 2015

Not so long ago I got the chance to see a live show by Nottinghams` Reggae on the Rocks, a band I`ve wanted to see for some time.

Along with a number of other bands, they were appearing at an event to publicise/raise funds for Maggie`s, a cancer-related cause based at Nottingham City Hospital ( ).

ROTR played a short set made up of covers of classic reggae tunes, starting with the Abyssinians` Satta Massagana and ending with the Psalms` Joy in the Morning, two personal favourites of mine. You`ll readily see that they`re not afraid of a challenge as only a band who were very sure of themselves would attempt these two.

Other artists` whose tunes were covered include John Holt, Toots and the Maytals and, rather surprisingly, Jesse J (a reggae re-working of the chart hit `Price Tag` which worked well ). 

This was an early afternoon appearance and I gather the band had played live the previous night before making a lengthy journey home. Under the circumstances they could have been forgiven the odd slip but in fact they never faltered and the musicianship was impeccable throughout.

To their credit, the band was well-received by an audience that (I suspect) was largely unfamiliar with their material. Much of the credit for this is down to the communication skills of singer Luke, the ideal front man for this type of show.

The band give the impression they see themselves as ambassadors - for reggae, for Nottingham and, on this occasion, for the Maggies charity. In that respect they were entirely successful.

ROTR can be found here ;


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Review - Joan Champion - Incidental Murder - London, MacDonald - 1946 ?

Joan Champion - Incidental Murder - MacDonald - Undated Hardback - Undated, but said to be from 1946

I imagine book reviews are far from fashionable these days but I don`t plan to let that discourage me !

Joan Champion`s tale of  secret tunnels, murdered men with false identities, espionage, intrigue and much else is sometimes confusing, at other times just plain daft. Nevertheless, I have to admit I`ve become attached to it.

It`s not for everyone - most modern readers will feel it lacks pace and I can`t imagine anyone thinking it`s an example of great novel-writing. Still, it has a certain charm.

In just one area it has accidentally become modern is in the personality of one character, Thea, a plain clothes policewoman. Attractive, assertive, determined and intelligent she is clearly a great deal more focussed than central character Dan.

 I very  much doubt that this was a contrived effect on the part of the author, but it is interesting, and unusual for the time.

One particular scene seems particularly in tune with modern tastes.  

As the story progresses, Dan becomes more and more interested in Thea in a way that has nothing to do with Police work. Shortly after the two have had a brief encounter with a pair of villains, Dan is left musing on his love interest, reflecting that his ideas about "the sort of domestic hearth scene that he had always associated with the married state" may have to be revised if he takes up with this forceful female.

She turns to him and asks if he`s "wishing the same thing I am" . By now he knows her well enough to respond "somehow I don`t think so." How right he is !  While he`s been reflecting on his romantic aspirations towards her, she has been wishing that one of the villains had tried to hit her with a spanner he was carrying. "Then we`d have had something to grab him for. " !

Dialogue like that from a character like Thea, is so de rigeur these days it`s pretty much a cliché. In 1946 it must have been very unusual. I could only speculate why Champion introduced this element - unless anyone knows more than I do ?

This book may test your patience a bit in places but overall, it`s a good read, and one you should be able to pick up cheaply online.

I believe this was Joan Champions` only book and as far as I can tell I`m the first person to post anything about it on the internet. If anyone does know anything about the author I would be interested to hear from you.

If you are fond of vintage detection, you may like to visit another pet project of mine, The Sexton Blake Blog ( ) . Unfortunately it`s been neglected in recent times but I hope to do something about that soon.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Action Mesothelioma Day 2015

For some years now I`ve used this blog to publicise Action Mesothelioma Day, which this year falls on 4 July 2015.

I was prompted to start doing this by the death of a friend who had worked with asbestos in years gone by.

Unfortunately, this year I`ve not given the matter the attention I should. However, I would like to provide a few links which may be helpful to anyone seeking to know more about asbestos and asbestos-related diseases ;

I do apologise for my lateness in posting something this year but hope these prove useful to anyone with an interest.



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A Hiatus

As you may have noticed, in recent times this blog has been undergoing a hiatus, an interruption, a delay and  a lack of continuity.

I hope some time to be able to resume blogging here but I don`t know when that will be.

In the meantime, you can keep up with Hoonaloon Collectables, the business which Mrs Nick and myself run, by using these links ;


Sunday, 23 November 2014

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

Semper Novus Quid Keith Chapman. This blog is always pleased 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 . 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 ;

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 ).  

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