Sunday, 16 December 2012

Squeeze - Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham - 5 December 2012

Formed in `70s, Squeeze were regarded in their day as purveyors of articulate, well-crafted rock/pop. While other members penned original material for the band (Keith Wilkinson and Jools Holland spring to mind), the ensemble was essentially a vehicle for the songwriting partnership of Chris Difford and Glen Tillbrook.

The pair`s battles with drink, drugs and each other are well-documented elsewhere. Given that something like 40 other musicians were members of the band at one time or another, you may feel that the talented twosome were probably not the easiest people to get along with. In fairness though, a number of the musicians concerned were hired hands who never viewed themselves as fully-fledged members.

How does the reformed Squeeze measure up to expectations ? Firstly I`ll own up and say I never saw any of the earlier incarnations live, though I have seen various ex-members (Holland/Lavis/Difford/Tillbrook) on numerous occasions.

The band opened with an earlier song, Bang Bang. A weak number to my mind and one probably best consigned to history. While they did suffer at times from a poor sound, in the early part of the set I was not at all sure about their choice of songs or entirely convinced by their playing.

All that changed with a triumphant performance of No Place Like Home, a particular favourite of Glenn Tilbrook`s and one on which he gave probably the most powerful live vocal performance I`ve heard from him. This was followed by a song called Still (a new one ?) which was equally strong. 

From that point on the band seemed to have hit their stride. Even when they performed songs I myself wasn`t too keen on (some of the earlier songs and one or two of the new ones), it was still a pretty impressive live performance. 

The show was saved from too much nostalgia by interesting, largely acoustic, new arrangements of some tunes which by chance included two particular favourites of mine, Take Me I`m Yours and Slaughtered, Gutted and Heartbroken.

John Bentley plays  bass guitar and occasional ukelele. This is his third period as a member of the band and clearly he is more than capable of fulifilling his role. On drums is Simon Hansen who I think I`ve seen drumming for Tilbrook in the past.  For me though, one of the stars of the show was Stephen Large on keyboard, accordian and melodica. To me, Large was the man who did the most to give the band something new to say musically.  Chris Difford was relatively low key, strumming rhythm guitar and singing only two or three songs.

In a smaller venues Tilbrook`s infectious enthusiasm for playing live and his easy rapport with an audience tends to make him a pretty unbeatable live act. In a larger venue this is inevitably diluted, but still he is a natural communicator and an accomplished guitarist.

The inclusion of new songs probably implies that the reformed Squeeze is ongoing and that solo careers have been put on hold. One hopes that the dynamic duo have put their problems in the past and clearly there`s still a devoted following out there for them. I doubt they will make many new converts at this stage of the game but who can tell ?

The future, they say, is unwritten.

On the web ;

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Quotation Station ; Mr Pankhurst`s Enthusiasms

"Life is nothing without enthusiasms !"

Richard Marsden Pankhurst (1834 - 1898)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

More Happy Reading From Hoonaloon !

Funny how many writers from the Midlands have contemplated crime at some point. John Harvey, Keith Wright, Berlie Doherty, David Bell and many others have all all at one time or another turned their pens towards crime, whether fictional or otherwise.

Joining their ranks is W W Morgan, a promising youngster from Nottingham with three novels to his name to date. A copy of his latest work, The Assassin`s Wedding, can be found at 5352 in our listings.

An interview with Mr M can be found here ; .

I don`t know if any of the contributors to The Adaptation of Change have ever entertained any murderous impulses, literary or otherwise. On the other hand, if your interests run to the History of Leicester/shire in the 19th century, their book is just the thing for you.

Copies can be found at 5094 and 5382 in our listings.

That`s enough local flavouring for now. Our monthly newsletter will be online in a day or two at

In the meantime, you can view our full stock by clicking here ; . 

Happy reading and don`t forget - Respect the Book !

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Mr Gibbons Goes to Lowdham

I`m grateful to Ross Bradshaw of Nottingham`s Five Leaves Books for letting me know that author Alan Gibbons will be appearing in Lowdham on Thurs 20 September (yes, I know it`s short notice !) to give a talk on `Libraries, Education and Literacy`.

I gather this will be the first of the newly-instigated Lowdham Lecture Series. 

Mr Gibbons has been mentioned by this blog before in his capacity as the founder/organiser of Campaign for the Book.

Tickets to hear this literary lad are variously £10, £9 or £8, depending on your circumstances.

For more information, or to reserve a place, ring 0115 966 3219.

As I`ve no doubt mentioned before, Mr G can be found online at .

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Autumn Footprints

At this time of year,  various areas hold their own walking festivals, some of them with quite intriguing themes.

Over this weekend, the Yorkshire Dales played host to the `Boots and Beer Walking Festival` ( .

On a more literary note, Richmond will be playing host to `Books and Boots` aka the `Richmond Walking and Book Festival` later this month (

For film buffs, London`s `Films on Foot Festival` takes place next month, which co-incides with the BFI London Film Festival and will take in almost 400 film locations with numerous related pub trips, apparently (

For details of these events and others, click here ; .

Turning to events in my neck of the woods, we come to `Autumn Footprints` aka `The 10th Amber Valley and Erewash Walking Festival` ( These are a series of walks in various locations around the region, catering for most levels of ability. Many of the walks have a local history theme,  thus a walk in Pentrich is billed as `Romans and Revolutionaries`, and in West Hallam local historian Roger Wood will be leading a walk headed `Nutbrook Canal and Horse-Drawn Tramways`. Participating organisations include Erewash Ramblers, Amber Valley Ramblers, Ilkeston and District Local History Society, Derbyshire Archaeological Society, Holbrook Parish Council, Breaston Parish Council, and various Walking for Health groups.  

If for any reason the walks in the festival are unsuitable for you, don`t despair as Nottingham Ramblers are also putting on a number of walks in the area during Sept and Oct. For details, click here ; .

Happy walking !

Monday, 3 September 2012

Samuel Morley of Nottingham

This picture is entitled Nottingham Arboretum : Bust of Samuel Morley and is by photographer John Sutton. Should you wish to know more about John`s work, you can click here ; .

There was a period of my life when I worked nearby and Mr Morley`s bust greeted me most weekdays as I often took my lunch-break in the aforementioned arboretum.

The  bust is accompanied by an inscription documenting his qualities and achievements ; "Member of Parliament, Merchant Philanthropist, Friend of Children, Social Reformer, Christian Citizen."

Factually, all this is correct, but it under-sells our man by a mile.

Born in London during 1809, Morley was heir to the family`s wool manufacturing business but soon ventured into publishing and politics. He became one of the proprietors of a Liberal newspaper, the Daily News, and was subsequently MP for Nottingham and later Bristol.

As a young man, Morley had attended a Congregationalist Chapel run by the Rev Dr Thomas Binney, known as The Archbishop of Nonconformity. As I`ve mentioned before, Non-Conformists (`Dissenters`) are a group opposed to state recognition of the Church of England and trace their origins to the time of the English Civil War. They have particularly deep roots in the East Midlands.

Binney was an active anti-slavery campaigner and this was a cause that Morley embraced whole-heartedly , acting as treasurer of a fund to assist escaped American slave Josiah Henson.  Morley contributed an introductory note (written jointly with one George Sturge) to Henson`s autobiography. In the book, Henson particularly highlights the support given to him by Morley and another man, George Hitchcock.

Another beneficiary of Morley`s campaigning zeal was trade unionist George Potter. Potter was the leading figure behind a trade union journal, The Bee Hive. Begun as an independently-run venture, The Bee Hive had become the journal of the London Trades Council. There followed an incident in which another trade unionist, Robert Applegarth, accused Potter of personal dishonesty and of falsifying details of an industrial dispute. The Trades Council investigated and subsequently parted company with both Potter and the Bee Hive.

Potter formed his own group, the London Working Men`s Association, and continued to produce the Bee-Hive. Without Trades Council support, the journal lost money, but was saved when Samuel Morley and another man, Daniel Platt, saved it from bankruptcy by buying up all the shares.

It might seem odd that Morley should form an alliance with Potter, a man accused even by some of his fellow trade-unionists of being a `manufacturer of strikes` and whose honesty had been called into question, but seemingly the two were happy with the outcome. The Bee Hive continued as a vehicle for trade unionists and radical liberals but eventually went under.

Potter went on to pursue a career as a trade unionist but failed in his attempts to become a politician and in a subsequent venture as a publisher of political tracts.

Josiah Henson wrote three books in all and was at different times a Canadian Army Officer and a Methodist preacher. He decided to stay in England after slavery was abolished in the US.

Morley died in 1886 and is remembered as a philanthropist and social reformer. He is buried in Abney Park Cemetery, as is Thomas Binney.



Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hoonaloon News September 2012

For once I`ve been quite prompt in putting our monthly newsletter online. Encounter my epistle at .

Friday, 31 August 2012

MuHa - Beeston Square, 25 August 2012

MuHa were the last band to appear in Beeston as part of the Summer in the Square/Beeston Summer Music series of events.

They had the distinction of having been recommended to me by an old friend of this blog, Rocking Rob Chandler, a man whose chords cause quivering wherever they are heard.

I had some reservations, but I have to say that the old saying "Rocking Rob won`t steer you wrong" was proved to be true yet again. MuHa, performing as a four-piece on this occasion, proved be one of the musical high points of a year in which I`ve heard quite a bit of live music.

Purveyors of `new roots from Eastern Europe` , they bring together musicians of differing musical leanings and backgrounds and attempt to blend their diverse styles into a cohesive musical package.

Nine times out of ten when musicians do that, you wish they hadn`t bothered, but MuHa are the one out of ten when it really does work. The only problem is, it`s very difficult to describe how they sound !

They are fronted by Iryna Muha who sang, played acoustic rhythm guitar and also briefly played an instrument which I now know to be a berimbau which I personally thought sounded awesome.

On lead acoustic guitar was a man with the dubious distinction of having once been a Latvian rock legend, Dmitry Fedotov. A superb player, he reminded me of Mr Whatshisname who played on Al Stewart`s `Modern Times` album.   

On bass guitar - an electric bass - was Louise Clements, an artist-type who apparently has the misfortune to work in Derby`s supremely ugly Quad building.  She didn`t plonk along like some rock player, she didn`t push herself forward excessively or do anything wildly innovative but in my view she was just the right player for this band.

Completing the band on this occasion was drummer Colm O`Hanlon. Again, not an obtrusive player, but as far as I could see he didn`t falter once in two hours.

As you might have noticed, I`m still not much nearer describing their sound. All I can really say is that the first set seemed to include quite a few Russian folk songs, sung in Russian. No way would I have known them as folk music of any sort without being told. To me, they did need the lead guitar to add a bit of colour, but as they had that, they sounded fine. The second set had a touch of jazz/swing here and there and even a smidgen of blues.

I was probably more at home with the second set, but truthfully in two hours there was really nothing I disliked and I would happily have heard them play for longer.

Would I listen to them at home ? I`m not sure. Would I see them again live ? Definitely.

They`re different, but if you`re at all open-minded about live music give them a chance - they deserve it.


News From Hoonaloon 31 August 2012

Another month is coming to an end, we`re all a little older but not much wiser.

At present we have an arrangement with ABE that all the books we have in stock that were reduced in price as part of our sale in July are still being offered at that reduced price, but that new titles added after that sale ended are going online at full price.

We realise that this is a time when many people are facing challenges on the money front and that customers are increasingly cost-conscious.

For that reason, we leaving the discount in place on the items in question until the middle of Sept - the discount will probably come off around 15 Sept 2012.

Bag yourself a bargain and help us make some more spaces in our filing system - visit our online shop at ABE without delay.

And always remember our motto - Respect the Book !

Local Produce

In keeping with the general slant of this blog, here are a few samples of home-grown literary produce, recommended in order to enable you to live a full and varied reading life !

At 5279 in our listings is Harold H Mather`s Clock and Watch Makers of Nottingham, one of few books for those of a horological persuasion to be written by a direct descendant of one of Bonnie Prince Charlie`s soldiers.
Harold H Mather worked on the railways for much of his life and was well-known locally for his conservation work and interest in local history. Something of an authority on antique clocks, he personally restored and repaired a number of those held in local museums.
Another local inhabitant with an interest in conservation is Derbyshire`s Berlie Doherty. Berlie, a two-time Carnegie Medal for Literature winner, has turned her hand  to novels, plays, poetry, screenplays and much else, writing for youngsters and adults alike.
Published by Nottingham`s Five Leaves, A Beautiful Place for a murder is set in her home town of Edale and can be found at 5292 in our listings.
Fresh from D H Lawrence Country and with coal dust in it`s veins, The Eastwood Anthology brings together both amateur and professional writers from the area, plus a small number of writers from elsewhere linked to the group via it`s Write Connection project. A copy can be found at 5291 in our listings.
That`s all for now. To keep up to date with us why not follow our online newsletter at And remember -
Respect the Book !

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rambling On Some More

In my recent posting Ramblin On (this blog, 20 June 2012), I looked at the campaigns work of the Ramblers.

The theme is taken up by guidebook writer Andrew McCloy in a recent article ;

Also interesting are ;

Saturday, 18 August 2012

60s R Us - Beeston Summer in the square 18 August 2012

It`s Saturday, it`s August and it`s time to head for Beeston for another bout of free live music.

As the name suggests, 60s R Us promote themselves as a `60s covers band. If you want to get pedantic about it, actually they`re a mid `50s - early `70s covers band and therein lies there great strength.

They perform no original material. They are capable musicians adept at vocal harmonies but they are not likely to attempt unusual arrangements or cover anything too obscure - there are no northern soul `b` sides or tunes by almost-forgotten rockabilly acts of the past among their material.

What sets them apart from others is their willingness to tackle songs that other bands, with some justification, would find too daunting. Thus we find covers of Reflections of my Life (Marmalade) ,  Stuck in the Middle With You (Stealer`s Wheel), Meet Me On The Corner (Lindisfarne) and Bad Moon Rising (Creedence Clearwater Revival) among the more predictable Beatles, Monkees, Small Faces and Elvis covers. Other surprises, though possibly less challenging, included a version of Marc Bolan`s Jitterbug Boogie ! 

Another band might have stumbled along the way attempting what is, in it`s own way, quite an adventurous set, but 60s R Us were convincing throughout. They never came across like a variety act and pretty much the only song that I thought didn`t suit them too well was a cover of the Rolling Stones` Honky Tonk Women. That`s really very impressive given the range of material they attempt and the fact that they played for around two hours in total.

At the end of the day, they cover guitar-based pop/rock/rock `n` roll of the past. They obviously love it, it`s what they do and they do it well. If you`re going to see a covers band, this is the one to see. 

Footnote - I have a particular ability to mis-hear lyrics, which causes my friends much amusement. For years I belived Be Bop Deluxe sang about "Having a ball with the men in velour" on their song Beauty Secrets ( it`s actually "...  the men of the law"). I`m guessing therefore that when 60s R Us did a `50s medley including Return to Sender and It`s All or Nothing, one of the tunes wasn`t actually called Hey, Little Robot Girl which is what it sounded like to me. If anyone knows what it really was, I`d be interested to know. Maybe I should write a song with that title !


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Carmina - Summer in the Square - 11 August 2012


The ultra-enjoyable Carmina appeared as one of the Summer in the Square attractions in Beeston, Notts last Saturday.

It was their second Summer in the Square gig (is it still called a `gig` when it takes place in the afternoon ?) and the second time I`ve seen them live, the two things being not entirely unconnected.

They blend a mixture of jazz and folk influences, the end result tending to be jazzy folk rather than folky jazz, which is probably a good thing.

Their great achievement is to perform music that is actually quite innovative whilst still sounding accessible. I would venture to suggest they were just as well received by passing shoppers as by more music-minded bods like myself.

The other thing about them is that they are not only a `songs` band but also an `arrangements` band and indeed an `instrumentalists` band. In my personal experience the three things are not often to be found in combination in this way.

They seem to have one or two songs about death and related topics but oddly they still sound pretty uplifting even when dwelling on such morbid matters.

I did have one or two entirely subjective quibbles (I can`t abide scat singing for a start !)  but these need not detain us.

Overall, if I had to give them marks out of 10, I would probably go for around 9, with the proviso that at their very best they probably merit an 11.

The next Summer in the Square band will be `60s R Us, a 1960s tribute act as the name suggests, on Sat 18 Aug 2012.

Mary Shelley Speaks !

Yesterday I went to a production of Frankenstein at Nottingham`s Theatre Royal.

As I was leaving, a pleasant young man handed me a flyer (below) advertising Mary Shelley`s first interview for over 190 years and inviting me to Watch the Mother of Monsters for free at You Tube.

How could I miss such an opportunity ? Like many people who work from home I`m wary of You Tube and it`s potential for distracting a person from things that really need to get done,  but I tracked down said interview and engaged my ears in the procedure known as `listening`.

What I found wasn`t really my bag of chips but on the other hand, it was an intelligent attempt to introduce a wider audience to the life and times of Mary Shelley and her peers, quite quirky in it`s way and enlivened with flashes of humour, but essentially a fairly substantial piece of work presented in an accessible way.

I`m not so sure that Mary Shelley can still be regarded as a woman unjustly overshadowed by her better-known male associates, though I agree that once that was true. Still, this is an amusing and intelligent piece that deserves a wider audience.

Give it a go ;

Monday, 13 August 2012

Favourite Walks - Heanor/Marlpool/Shipley Park etc

Not so long ago (13 July) I posted details of one of my favourite walks in the area of Heanor/Marlpool etc.

That particular walk is based loosely on Amber Valley Routeway Number 6, and you should be able to request details of that walk via the Visit Amber Valley website.

Should anyone be needing any more information, parts of the walk also incorporate Public Bridleway 24 (Long Lane, Shipley). Long Lane is unusual in that it is at various points a footpath (Public Footpath 19), a Bridleway and a private road. However, for our purposes I gather the relevant area is the Bridleway, which leads from Hassocks Lane (A6007) through Bentley`s Plantation and ultimately through the grounds of MFN nightclub to Shipley Lock, as previously explained.

I belive Derbyshire County Council are the relevant contact point for more information on that part of the walk. Here are a couple of links ;

Happy walking !

Friday, 10 August 2012

Summer in the Square (Beeston)

Quite some time ago now, I used this blog to ask if anyone knew the name of a Central African band I`d seen performing at the annual Summer in the Square series of live shows in Beeston.

No-one actually came forward as a result of my question, but I believe the band in question to be Les Elus, a band who hail from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but are currently resident in Derby.

Sadly I`ve missed their most recent appearance at  Summer in the Square (4 August 2012), but on the plus side I do still have the chance to catch the remainder of the season.

The bands who are yet to appear are Carmina (who I`ve seen before and who are excellent) , 60s R Us and  MuHa). For more details use this link ;

One thing I`ve noticed about Beeston, is that while the main shopping area (basically one street) appears to be bustling, explore further and even within the town centre there are quite a few empty shops. In an effort to address this issue, it is being promoted as a place to visit. Here`s a link ;

Bag a Bookish Bargain

And now, a word from our sponsor !

The Hoonaloon Books July sale, which has now officially ended, was a considerable success.

In light of this, we`ve come to an arrangement with ABE whereby all the items we still have which  were discounted as part of the sale are still available at the sale price, but new items added by us subsequently are going on at the full price.

This will continue for the foreseeable future - probably until later this month.

The latest Hoonaloon Books Newsletter can be found at and obviously we`d encourage you to have a look at that. Additionally, we thought we`d take this opportunity to show you a few items we`ve acquired recently with a more-or-less local connection.

Born and raised in Eastwood, Notts, D H Lawrence had extensive connections with various locations on the Notts/Derbyshire border, particularly Eastwood and Brinsley. Hardy and Harris` book A D H Lawrence Album appears at 5242 in our listings  and was brought into the world by Moorland Publishing, who are lucky enough to be based in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

Born and raised in Sibthorpe, Daniel Taylor began his journalistic career with a post at the Newark and South Notts Advertiser. Although he long ago graduated to writing for national titles, he still harbours in hs heart a deep love for Notts Forest FC. Read all about it in his worthy tome Deep Into the Forest, which you can find at 5187 in our listings.

St John`s College is a theological college in Nottingham. Their publication Walking to a Different Drumbeat (pictured) provides interested parties with daily readings for Advent and Christmas (5238), as does their Looking Towards the Dawn (5155 and 5160).

That`s just a small selection from the 4,000 or so books we currently have in stock.

Don`t forget to check out our monthly newsletter and remember -

Respect the Book !

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Nottingham Riverside Festival 2012

Having spent last weekend at the Nottingham Riverside Festival, I think it`s time for a quick musical interlude.

Here`s an all-too-hasty guide to just a few of the musical delights on offer ;


Ngoma take you on a musical tour of southern Africa, with songs from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Like most African/World Music bands  they incorporate a reggae influence on a number of tunes. They perform capably and have some strong material, but I did feel that overall there was maybe something lacking. They give me the impression that they could be a great band, but on present showing they may be content just to be a good band.


The third or fourth time I`ve seen this band. They serve up a locally-brewed cocktail of folk and country influences, performed in a punchy, energetic style. For myself, they`re a band I prefer to consume in small doses, but I know plenty of people who would be only too happy to consume a sizeable kettle of Wholesome Fish in a single serving. 


Unexpectedly, one of my two favourite acts of the week-end.  Based in Canada, these purveyors of articulate folk impressed me so much I caught both of their sets. Theirs is a wide-ranging trawl through a variety of forms of folk, from medieval music to (you`ve guessed it !) Bob Dylan (a great version of The Times They Are A Changing), ending, perhaps surprisingly, with a folked-up rendition of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow.

 Despite their obvious eclecticism, they connected well with an audience whose level of familiarity with folk ranged from `hard-core devotee` to `never heard anything like this before` . Seek them out, they`re worth it.


I only caught the last few numbers of Tom Wardle`s set, but I thought I`d give him a mention. If melodic pop/rock incorporating covers of tunes by the Beatles and Chuck Berry is your bag, you may want to check him out. It is a shame he was let down by a rather tinny sound system, but I`m sure he won himself a few followers.


I had no intention of catching this band and we were only using the bandstand area as a short cut elsewhere when we caught this fine guitar-based trio playing swing-influenced  jazz and blues tunes. Adapting readily, we changed our plans and stayed to hear more. I wasn`t totally convinced by their rendition of the jazz standard Caravan, but other than that I loved them, as did many others. My other favourite act of the weekend.


Also climbing my personal hit parade were local lads Golden Troubadours.  They were actually introduced as Velvet Troubadours, but I`ve checked and they are in fact unconnected with James Loney`s Minnesota masters of melody and are definitely called Golden Troubadours. They perform what I would call soft rock, reminiscent at times of the band America who had a hit in the `70s with Horse With No Name. If Finest Kind and Trio Manouche were my joint favourites, the GTs lag only a little behind.


Inevitably, there were other acts I would have liked to have seen, but circumstances dictated otherwise. For jazz buffs I`d like to mention the Nottingham Jazz Orchestra and the Teddy Fullick Quintet, both of which I`ve seen before.

I had also hoped to catch Carlton Brass, but there appears to be an iron law of fate that sees to it that I only get to see one brass band a year. As I saw the Matlock Band only recently I suppose it was inevitable I should miss Carlton Brass, but hopefully I`ll get another chance some time in the future.

I had also been hoping to catch local reggae band The Naturalites, who I saw a number of times in my youth. Unfortunately, a thunderstorm broke out only around ten minutes before they were due on stage in the bandstand area. With no jacket and two small children in tow, it just wasn`t viable to hang around to see if they went on, which seemed unlikely.

By sheer chance, a friend of mine who`s working abroad caught a live set by founding Naturalite Ossie Gad (formerly Ossie Sams) in Paris recently and tells me he was favourably impressed.

There is quite a bit online about Naturalites past and present which you may wish to check out. It would be interesting to know if anyone else remembers two other Nottingham-based reggae bands, Positive Vibes and Far Image ?

Anyway, that`s enough from me, but I hope these few comments will encourage you to check some of these excellent musicians who can so easily be overlooked.


Monday, 23 July 2012

Action Mesothelioma Day 6 July 2012

As I mentioned not so long ago, on 6 July of this year, Leicester marked Action Mesothelioma Day with an event at the cathedral, in the presence of Leicester`s first elected Lord Mayor, Cllr Abdul Razak Osman and Jennifer, Lady Gratton JP, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire.

The event brought together representatives of Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team, Mesthelioma UK and various church bodies, along with members of families affected by Mesothelioma, an industrial disease connected with exposure to asbestos.  

The event was billed as a day for Reflection and Remembrance and that was very much the spirit of the event.

To his credit, Cllr Osman spoke on the importance of the call for global ban on asbestos and highlighted the need to support those whose governments still allow it`s importation.

Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team handed over a collection of £1,306.00 which they had raised for Mesothelioma UK, who hope to fund a team of Specialist Mesothelioma Nurses to work in areas with a high incidence of asbestos-related illness (the North East and parts of Derbyshire are particularly badly affected). I`m glad to be able to tell you that two of these nurses are already in post with a third due to start work in Cardiff soon.

If you would like to know more about this event, or others that took place around the country on the same day, please contact either Liz Darlison or Tracey Heseltine at

Friday, 13 July 2012

Favourite Walks - Heanor/Marlpool/ShipleyPark/Erewash Canal etc

Here`s something I`ve been thinking of doing for a while, which is to post details of a few walks which may appeal to anyone who likes to spend time outdoors.

This is a particular personal favourite, beginning and ending in Heanor, Derbyshire and taking in some attractive countryside and historic sites along the way.

We`ll start the walk outside Heanor Library, which is about two minutes from the town centre.
Turning away from the town, you`ll see the Park Surgery and a sign for Heanor Miner`s Welfare.

 Crossing Thorpes Way, you`ll see a tarmac pedestrian path to the right of the doctor`s surgery and running along the right-hand side of the Welfare. Follow this, and at the end turn right, walking down the road past Mundy C of E School which should be on your right.

A little after the school, you`ll see a short path on the left-hand side of the road leading to Marlpool Cemetery. Follow this and here you may choose to visit the old part of the cemetery, which is home to The Donovan Monument, The Brentnall Mounument and the Non-Conformist Chapel etc, all of which have been mentioned in this blog in the past.

 To resume the walk, take the tarmac path between the old and new parts of the cemetery. At the end turn right and proceed in a straight line, ignoring the curving part of the road. Cross Roper Avenue and proceed into Thorpe Hill Drive, then follow a tarmac path alongside the Country Park Tavern. This will lead you to a bridleway running along the edge of Shipley Country Park.

Turn left along the bridleway. You may wish to take a couple of detours into Shipley Park. I would suggest Cinderhill Copse and Osborne`s Pond as being features of the park that you could conveniently visit without adding too much time on to the walk.

The Bridleway was previously part  of the Great Northern Railway from  Heanor Gate to Ilkeston. Late at night they say you can  hear the sound of  ghostly engines travelling to collect  their phantom cargo from collieries that have long since ceased to exist. No actually, that`s not true at all, but I thought it would add a bit of colour.

The Bridleway passes through pleasant woodland where it is peaceful, but is sufficiently popular with locals and dog-walkers that there is always a friendly face at hand. If you have small children with you, this might be a good time to check if anyone needs the toilet.

As you follow the bridleway you will come to a point where there are two gates with `Keep Clear` signs crossing the path, and turnings to left and right as well as straight on. Do not worry about that, it`s OK to go straight ahead past the gates.

Carry straight on with Michael House School on your left. In summer this area is home to many dragonflies, damselflies etc. Eventually, you should come to the Shipley Woodside Mining Memorial, which has also been mentioned in this blog before. This area was once a colliery (obviously) and then a theme park, the American Adventure. At present it stands empty.

If you like birds of prey you may wish to keep an eye out for buzzards as I noticed one above me when I was there earlier this week. 

Stand in front of the ornamental gates to the memorial and you will see a tarmac road almost straight ahead, leading between two fields. Follow this to reach Pit Lane.

Pit Lane takes you to the A6007 Hassock`s Lane which runs from Heanor to Ilkeston. Cross this and turn  left along the pavement with a blue brick wall on your right. You will come to a path on the right. This will lead you to a stile which you should climb over to enter a wooded area called Bentley`s Plantation.  

Apparently, this path follows the route once taken by horse-drawn trams carrying coal from Shipley Colliery to the Erewash Canal.

Bentley`s Plantation is an enormously attractive area. On sunny days the effects of the sun`s rays passing through the foliage above is very attractive. The downside of all this tree cover  is that if there has been heavy rain then the ground does not dry out too quickly. However, if you stick to the route of the path (the raised bank of ground running alongside the fence on the left-hand side of the plantation), it is not too bad as the water tends to run down on to the lower ground to your right. It can seem a bit shadowy and secluded and not everyone would like to be here on their own.  

Passing through the wooded area, you emerge to an open field. Ahead you can see the church at New Eastwood. To the left you may notice a gently sloping hill, largely covered with grasses/crops but with some trees, partic to the top. This is the reclaimed spoil heap from Brinsley Colliery. Look for a railway bridge - more or less ahead of you - and head for that.

Passing under the bridge, follow the tarmac path through the grounds of MFN nightclub, formerly the Shipley Boat Inn. MFN stands for Miles From Nowhere, not a reference to the song by the Only Ones, but to the club`s unusual location. The club`s owner used to be the drummer in Showaddywaddy.

There may be three steps to heaven but there will be more than that before we reach Heanor again, so carry on and you will reach Shipley Lock and the Erewash Canal.

The Erewash Canal, which was opened in 1779, was built to carry coal from local collieries. Langley Mill was home to the Great Northern Basin (the point of convergence of the Erewash, Cromford and Nottingham Canals) and the Erewash ran from there to Trent Lock in South Notts.

Crossing the bridge, turn left (north) along the Canal. At the nearby Eastwood Lock you will need to cross the bridge there to the other side. I personally favour this as a spot to eat lunch.

After that, it is very straightforward. Continue to follow the canal, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including a kingfisher. On a sunny day, the water is sometimes clear enough for you to see shoals of fish. 

Keep going until you see a sign on a bridge telling you that you are now joining the Cromford Canal. You are now at the site of the Great Northern Basin. Walk under the bridge and you will see a plaque commemorating the engineering work of Jessop and Outram, the engineers who designed the canal.

Continue under the bridge and, coming out the other side, turn and walk to the main road. Behind you are the premises of the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association. Turn right across the front of a petrol station and proceed to Langley Mill, crossing a bridge over the River Erewash. Keep going and you will see a large Asda. Keep that on your right and proceed to Langley Mill.

At Langley Mill you can return to Heanor either on foot (straight up the hill) or by bus (there is a stop on the left, near a railway bridge). If you have another destination in mind there is a train station, used by Northern Rail and East Midlands Trains,  or there are regular Trent Barton busses to Nottingham.

This walk is a variation on Amber Valley Routeway Number 6. If you are a serious walker you could probably do it in four hours (assuming you stick to the route and don`t take the couple of possible detours I`ve mentioned). If you are an ambler rather than a rambler then it would probably take around five.  It is not especially arduous - the steepest part is the walk back uphill from Langley Mill to Heanor - but you need to be tolerably fit.

Here are some links that may seem relevant ;

If you are tempted to visit the area, but prefer a walk led by an experienced walker, you might like to know that Nottingham Ramblers are putting on a walk to Eastwood, Shipley Park and Heanor on 23 Sept 2012 - see .

As a final observation, I`ve walked this route many times, the most recent occasion being yesterday. I`ve checked this guide thoroughly and can`t find anything in it that is likely to confuse or mislead you.  However, I don`t claim to be perfect and if you`re not familar with the area you may wish to supplement it with a map or walk leaflet from the area. One possibility would be to ask Amber Valley Borough Council for a copy of the leaflet for  Amber Valley Routeway Number 6, which is slightly different in some places but covers the same area - they can be e-mailed at .

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hoonaloon Books July 2012

The current Hoonaloon Books Newsletter is online and can be viewed at

Don`t forget that our current sale ends on 27 July 2012 !

Respect the Book !

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hoonaloon Books Sale July 2012

Our current sale is now on and runs from 1 July 2012 - 27 July 2012.

During that time, all the books we are currently offering for sale via ABE (roughly 4,000 titles) will be discounted by 25%.

Those nice people at ABE have already reduced the prices on our stock accordingly, so all you have to do is pick your books and place your order.

Our monthly newsletter will be appearing at as usual in the not-too-distant future.

Any questions, feel free to get in touch.

Nick & Ann-Marie
Hoonaloon Books

P.S. While you await the delights of the next newsletter, here are a few of our `forthcoming attractions`. These should be appearing online within the next 24 hours.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Action Mesothelioma Day 6 July 2012

On 6 July 2012, Derbyshire Asbestos Support Team and Mesothelioma UK are hosting an event at St Martin`s Cathedral, Leicester as part of Action Mesothelioma Day (AMD).

The theme of this year`s AMD is to call for a Global Ban on Asbestos, and this event, like the one in Derby earlier this year (see my article Reflection and Celebration of Life, this blog, 24 Feb 2012) will be entitled A Reflection and Celebration of Life.

For more information, please contact either Tracy Heseltine or Liz Darlison at Mesthelioma UK (

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Rambling On

Once again my copy of Nottinghamshire Walker lands on the doormat, and once again, it`s full of interesting things ;  details of Ramblers activities locally and nationally, an interesting article on local history (History Beneath our Feet by local  member  Linda Pitt), an account of a rally held locally to mark the first anniversary of the formation of Save our Forests and articles by guest contributors ( Cllr Bruce Laughton on Rights of Way and Steven Parkhouse, Chair of Friends of Kings Clipstone on The Kings Clipstone Project).

Speaking personally, I always like to read of local Ramblers activities in terms of grassroots campaigning and involvement with consultations etc. In this I am not alone - I seem to recall reading that the majority of paid-up Ramblers members  rarely if ever walk with their local group, which must obviously imply that they remain members to support the campaigning side of the organisation.

So let`s spare a thought for the hardworking individuals who give up their spare time to involve themselves in this way, and let`s have a quick look at some of the issues on the agenda locally at present.

Housing remains an issue and I understand that the Ramblers have objected to plans for four sites ; three on the grounds that they are open spaces (Henry Mellish Playing fields, an area of Broxtowe Country Park and Aspley Gardens) and a fourth (Jubilee Campus) on the grounds that it threatens a right of way, a listed building and a nature conservation area.

Mineral extraction remains an issue locally. A proposal for quarrying at Two Oaks Farm/Thieves Wood (in North Notts) is I believe uncontroversial, but the Ramblers are objecting to a plan for dolomite extraction at Holbeck which also involves limestone quarrying at Steetley and a clay quarry near Bilsthorpe. The reason for the objection is the impact on the countryside and in particular on historic Creswell Crags ( ).

The group has also attempted to reclaim four Lost Ways (historic paths) in the Besthorpe area. The County Council have accepted one of these claims but the other three have been rejected and are the subject of an appeal.

Elsewhere, relationships with the County Council have gone more smoothly, and the Ramblers have welcomed the news that the Council has purchased four former mineral railway lines (Bilsthorpe, Calverton, Cotgrave, Clipstone) which are to be opened up for use by walkers, riders and cyclists.

The group has also welcomed recent improvements and additions to the Rights of Way network in the Trent Valley and local groups will be involved with the Trent Vale Walking Festival (

That`s enough for now, but I hope these are of interest, even to those of you unfamiliar with the area. Reactions to the Ramblers` style of campaigning can vary wildly (too radical ? Not radical enough ?) but in my view they normally get the balance about right.

For more information, visit




Monday, 18 June 2012

Commonwealth Writers

As you may know, this year`s Commonwealth Short Story Prize was won by New Zealand`s Emma Martin for her story Two Girls in a Boat.

The way the Commonwealth Writer`s Prizes* work, is that there are a five regional winners (the regions in question are Africa, Asia, Canada/Europe, The Caribbean and The Pacific) . Of these, one is then selected to be the overall winner.

One imagines Ms Martin must be deeply chuffed to be this year`s overall winner, which is no small achievement.

Those nice people at Granta have put all five of the regional winners online, and they can be viewed here ;

More information on the Commonwealth Writer`s Prizes can be found at ;


 * The 2012 Commonwealth Book Prize was won by Sri Lanka`s Shehan Karunatilaka for Chinaman : The Legend of Pradeep Mathew.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Mr Whitehead`s Ghosts

Andrew Whitehead is a journalist, historian and collector, connected with the History Workshop website.

I might never have hear of Mr W except that someone I know had a couple of reviews posted on that site and I decided to check them out.

With one thing and another, I got sidetracked and ended up finding these rather excellent items posted online by this Whitehead chappy, who seems to be a denizen of some place called London ;

The Ghosts of Junction Road - 17 Feb 2012 and

Redfern`s Rubber Mats - 22 May 2012, both at

And also ;

A Tale of Two Shop Signs - 19 Feb 2012 at .

I don`t specially have anything witty or unusual to say about these, but I thought they were so good they were worth sharing.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion to Host Wildlife Photography Exhibition

This rather fetching little character reaches us with the excellent news that Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion will be hosting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year touring exhibition during the period 14 July - 2 Sept 2012.

It`s apt that this venue should be hosting an event aimed in part at encouraging an interest in wildlife as the Mat Bath Grand Pav itself was at one time looking rather endangered.

Thankfully, it`s cause is being championed by a determined group of local people intent on restoring the building to it`s former glory.

To learn more, see my article of a few days ago at .

Avarice and Greed

I like to introduce an element of avarice and greed into proceedings now and again, so in a spirit of naked self-interest, perhaps I could mention that this month`s Hoonaloon Books newsletter is now online and can be found at

Quotation Station

Unless our conception of patriotism is progressive, it cannot hope to embody the real affection and the real interest of the nation.

Jane Addams

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Dagger in the Library

The Crime Writers Association `Dagger in the Library Award` (formerly known as the `Golden Handcuffs`) is one of a number of awards given by that organisation as it seeks to propogate a taste for mystery and murder among the populace.

The award has certain distinctive qualities that set it apart from the others.

As the title would imply, the award is given to crime writers nominated by library users and chosen by a panel of librarians.

It is given to the "living author who has given the most pleasure to readers". However, that has been refined over the years and the award is now given not to the authors of bestsellers, but to up and coming authors and/or library favourites who are felt to deserve wider recognition. The award is given for the author`s work taken as a whole and not for one individual title.

 The flyer reproduced above relates to a planned Dagger in the Libray event in Heanor, Derbyshire on 5 July, but no doubt other libraries will be hosting their own events at round about the same time.

Regular visitors to this blog and to The Sexton Blake Blog will no doubt be aware of my fondness for literary criminality so I`m happy to give this award a plug.

Further info ;

Sunday, 20 May 2012

More About Books May 2012

John J Eddlestone - Murderous Derbyshire .  A fairly workmanlike non-fiction crime collection. The author and his researcher/partner Yvonne (surname unknown) drew heavily on court records in compiling this collection and it can be a little dry. It is at it`s best where a case has some ambiguities and/or some unusual and intriguing aspect that makes it out of the ordinary. Occasionally, the author does let his own personality show through and in my view the book would have been better if he`d had the confidence to do so more often. Here and there, we catch glimpses of how people in Derbyshire used to live - their housing, their occupations, their general attitudes and values. It may be that this aspect could have been explored a little further. In the end, it did win me over and for that reason I`d say it is worth a read.

J B Priestley - The Carfitt Crisis and Two Other Stories  (The Carfitt Crisis/Underground/The Pavilion of Masks) 

  `Carfitt` and `Pavilion` were originally conceived by Priestley as plays and he regarded them as "entertainments embodying some serious ideas", whilst Underground is a short horror story. A tricky collection to review, so I shall content myself with a few general observations.

The character of Engram in The Carfitt Crisis may be seen as a descendant of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls, as, arguably, is the unnamed `tall man` who appears towards the end of Undergound.  The characters of Marion and Joyce in `Carfitt` are well-observed but the dialogue of some of the younger characters is unconvincing. `Pavilion` plays host to one character`s description of a new age that he believes  is just beginning;

"An age when appearance will defeat reality, when what is said is more important than what is done, when the shadow will be accepted for substance, and more and more people will stop living their own lives to dream of living somebody else`s life". 

Sounds a bit like the present day !

 I don`t want to get into too lengthy a discussion of this collection, so I`ll close by saying that as a whole it doesn`t really work for me, but others may get more out of it.  I have reviewed other Priestley works on this blog (and no doubt will review others in the future) and it`s fair to say those were more to my taste.

Stephen Hines (compiler), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and others - The True Crime Files of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A compilation of contemporary comment, including correspondence from the letters pages of the press of the time, on two cases of apparent wrongful conviction, cases in which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle involved himself personally.

The first of these cases concerned a young solicitor named George Edalji and the second concerned a rather different character, a criminal named Oscar Slater.

For the most part Stephen Hines chooses to stay in the background, only occasionally interjecting his own observations. I can understand that, but at the same time the Edalji case generated a great deal of correspondence and in that part of the book I felt that certain exchanges could usefully have been summarized rather than being reproduced in full.

In the case of Slater, Conan Doyle`s The Case of Oscar Slater is reproduced without any additional material and I must admit I breathed a sigh of relief for that reason.

Nevertheless, this is an invaluable volume in many ways and I would recommend it.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Vampires Visit Yorkshire Coast

Many photographers have taken pictures of the blue Bram Stoker plaque at Whitby, and I`m sure many of them have done it better than me.

That doesn`t matter as I wanted a picture of my own, even if, as happened on this occasion, I was slightly hampered by a sign directly in front of the plaque advertising a flat to let.

This is my third attempt to get a picture of the plaque. On each of the previous occcasions, something went wrong - once a camera went missing, on another the relevant image was missing from the camera on our return. Pretty spooky, yeah ? Well, no I suspect it had more to do with human error than undead forces.

Anyway, Dracula remains a personal favourite of mine. While Bram`s non-Dracula work contains one or two gems I`d have to admit that not everything he wrote was of a uniformly high standard.

But judge for yourself. For Bram completists, the site to visit has to be , but there are other online places of interest and here are just a couple ;

(Indulging in a little lateral thinking for a moment, if you`re keen on literary plaques etc, you might wish to visit Nottingham writer Tony Shaw`s blog at

Returing to vampires and other such matters, can I also take this opportunity to recommend this article ;

Matthew Coniam - Did a Vampire Really Haunt Highgate Cemetery ? No, of Course it Didn`t ! - posted Tues 17 April 2012 at , an article which outlines an odd and rather obscure series of events which took place in Highgate circa 1970 and which provided yours ruly with a great deal of amusement.