“31 Songs” Picking up pieces

In my previous posts I’ve tried to maintain a reasonably chronological record of significant songs from my past. But it’s inevitable that some would slip my memory and be omitted from that chronology.

Here I’ll try to fill some of the gaps. These two should have come between songs 2 and 3.

14) Partridge Family.

How do I pick one significant song from a TV show I liked in my early teens? I don’t recall which ones I like best back then. I used to sit beside the TV and try to record the songs on my dad’s old reel to reel recorder (it was a year or two until I got my own portable cassette recorder).

My memories have perhaps been muddied by my recent reintroduction to the series on DVD. I chose the song at the link because I think it would have appealed to me back then, particularly the guitar effect preceding the chorus.


15) Child in Time, Deep Purple.

A major leap in taste after the Partridge Family. I was introduced to Deep Purple through a High School music class where the teacher played their album Concerto for Group and Orchestra, and a former school friend from England who I was still writing to at the time had mentioned them in one of his letters. This song for some reason is one I remember most.

The following should come somewhere between song 5 and 6

16) Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush.

Like most people, this song was my introduction to Kate Bush one of the more original singers, songwriters and performers I’ve come across in “mainstream” music. Not my favourite song of hers, but probably the most significant. I’ve seen and heard some very dubious things written about Kate, her music and her voice, that probably say more about the “accusers” than the singer.




Posted in "31 songs", music | 17 Comments

“31 songs” Continued. (The early Gloria years).

After the list of 5 songs in my previous post, I’ve given the topic more thought and can add the following to my own “31 Songs”.

There’s still a significant short fall – but one day maybe I’ll be able to get to that arbitrary number, based on Nick Hornby’s book.

Part of the difficultly is narrowing a one time favourite group’s output to one song more significant than the rest.


6) Bad, U2.

I’m not sure why I went to see the U2 film Rattle and Hum. Around that time I often filled an evening by going to see films at my local cinema, and R & H was just one more on their programme. However it become more than  a film. I was the only one in the theatre, the volume was turned higher than usual, and it seemed like I was at a personal U2 concert. I immediately became a fan, something that changed my life completely because I later met Gloria at the first (and last) meeting of a failed U2 fan club. This song has always been a favourite.

7) Gloria, U2.

I had to include this one, the song that gave Gloria her nickname. We were friends for over a year until I knew her real name, and I didn’t find that out until our relationship progressed beyond friendship and we became a “couple”. My family still address her as Gloria.

8) Roaring Jack, were a group I discovered during my time at University. It was during the early stages of my friendship with Gloria and coincidentally we independently discovered them around the same time.

I was introduced to their music by a classmate. Gloria heard about them from the owner of her local record store. Almost weekly I drove to Sydney to see them perform at a Newtown pub on Thursday nights. Unfortunately Gloria missed out because of work commitments. We were eventually able to see them perform together at the Harold Park Hotel sometime around new year (of which year I don’t recall).

As I said we independently discovered them, and also unknown to each other, for many months both of us never missed  daily listening to one of their albums.

9) The Waterboys were another independent joint discovery, although we both came across them before we met.
I found them through their album Fisherman’s Blues. When I met Gloria she had all of their albums. There are a lot of songs I could have chosen from their catalogue that are more representative of their work, but I chose this one for Gloria.


The last songs for this post are the hardest to select. There are several groups I could choose from – most of them Irish. Groups like The Hothouse Flowers, The Saw Doctors, The Black Velvet Band, but I decided on the following:

10) In a Lifetime, Clannad.

It was hard choosing a specific Clannad song, but as this one features Bono from U2 it seemed the most appropriate and well known choice available. Unfortunately it seems that the original video (at least this one) hasn’t survived very well. The picture quality isn’t the best.

11 and 12 ) Capercaillie

A group that Gloria discovered first as another Celtic group with similarities to Clannad, but I probably took more of a liking to them than she did over time. We saw them twice live in Sydney. But how do I select a representative song? I couldn’t, so I chose two including this one from Karen Matheson their singer. I probably could have chosen almost anything they’ve released.


13) Lord of the Dance

It took a while to find a reasonable video of this. Gloria and I saw the show twice in Sydney (the video is of a later version). I’ve been typing this as I listen to audio from the video and find myself tapping the keys in time to the rhythm of the dancing.









Posted in "31 songs", family, music | Tagged | 6 Comments

31 Songs, Nick Hornby (My Younger Years)

I read Nick Hornby’s 31 songs over several days. It was a good book to dip into from time to time when I had a few spare minutes.


It’s a book of essays/articles that use Hornby’s 31 songs as a starting point for him to write about his wider views of music and the music industry.

I didn’t know a lot of the artists and I’m familiar with only one or two of the songs, so my appreciation of the book was slightly disadvantaged.

So rather than examine the book itself, I decided to present my own “31 songs”,  however I found that I could only come up with a few that had any reasonable personal relevance, and my attempts to add more made the list far too contrived to make the effort worthwhile.

So here are the only five genuinely “significant” songs that stand out, all of them date back to my childhood and teens. (Click on the song titles to access videos of the songs)


1) She Loves You, the Beatles.
My first ever record, bought for me when I was about 5 years old. The first answer I remember giving to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” was “I want to be a Beatle”.

2) Bits and Pieces, the Dave Clark Five.
Maybe the second single my parents bought for me. I’m not sure what exactly appealed, but it’s a song that even in memory, stirs feelings of nostalgia.

3) 48 Crash, Suzi Quatro.
Quatro was my first teenage celebrity crush. At the time of its release I’d skip from radio station to radio station, waiting until they played this song before re-tuning to another to (hopefully) hear it again. Her first Sydney concert was also my first ever concert attendance.

4) Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen.
It was nothing like anything else on the charts at the time and I loved the changes of style and tempo throughout differing sections. I attended what was probably Queen’s first Sydney concert and remember how funny it was to see Freddie Mercury’s shadow being backlit on to a white sheet during the line “I see a little silhouetto of a man…” Very primitive compared to their later hi-tech approach. A friend told me how he’d sing it in the shower while at Bible school – until he realised singing about Beelzebub having a devil put aside for him maybe wasn’t appropriate.

5) The Sixteens, The Sweet,
This came out the year I was sixteen, and for that reason it seemed significant – especially early the next year during the few weeks between my then girlfriend’s 16th birthday and my 17th. Again, I attended what I think was The Sweet’s first Sydney concert.


If the list was of albums rather than individual songs I might be able to stretch it closer to 31 and bring the time line nearer to today. But that could be a project for later.

Posted in "31 songs", music, Nick Hornby | Tagged ,

The Costs and Pitfalls of Book Buying.

I have far too many books – and still I buy more.

When I develop a new reading interest, or a new interest in general, I’m not satisfied to dabble around the edges, I jump right in and obtain as much as possible related to that interest.

In recent years I became interested in some aspects of military history. At first I just wanted to find out why Anzac day was such a big deal in Australia. Like many Australians, my knowledge and understanding of the Gallipoli campaign at the heart of Anzac day was minimal. As the centenary of the original Anzac day (25th April) came around in 2015, I decided to put an end to my ignorance and I read several books about the campaign that attained mythic status in Australian culture.

From there my curiosity about other aspects of WWI was sparked, and my reading widened to other battles and their historical consequences.

But that wasn’t enough. I moved on to WWII when I discovered some family involvement in the North Africa and Sicily campaigns of 1943.
I was able to untie some of my dad’s tangled childhood memories to find the facts behind the tragic loss of his cousins Albert and Horace during those campaigns; even being able to track a report of Horace’s desperate cries for help, followed by the sound of his drowning, after his glider crashed into the Mediterranean.

I sought out and bought as many books as I could find that might increase my knowledge of Albert and Horace’s experiences of war. A lot of the books were out of print so I needed to track down second hand copies. A helpful resource was https://www.bookfinder.com/

Through that site I was able to find books covering my topics of interest that have been long out of print. Unfortunately some were outside of my comfortable price range, but most weren’t.

As I’ve written in several recent posts, my current interest is crime fiction, a very popular genre with far too many reading options. The only way I could realistically launch myself into reading crime was to find someway to limit those options. I chose to be selective with the authors I read.

So far I’ve followed two paths. Firstly there are the two authors who helped me get into the world of crime in the first place. I’ve already written about Lynda La Plante and Ann Cleeves.
Secondly, because my greater interest has been fuelled by the strength of character and place in Cleeves’ books, I looked around for British writers basing their work around Derbyshire, the English county where I spent my pre-teen years. I’ve also written quite a lot about the three writers I’ve been following.

To date Sarah Ward has three published books, Steven Dunne seven, and Stephen Booth at least seventeen. It would be a very costly exercise to get all of them, so when available I’ve helped the process through purchases from charity and second hand book shops, while keeping an eye on the prices of new books in online stores. Occasionally books will be discounted and a little money can be saved if I’m viewing the right site at the right time.

book list 2Ideally I’d be able to find all of the books at a local bookshop, giving them support instead of some overseas mega-store, but they rarely (if ever) have the kind of books I want, that cater to my sometimes obscure tastes (how many Australian readers are looking for Derbyshire crime writers?).

I now own all of Sarah Ward’s books.

I have the first three of Steven Dunne’s books. The first I could only find second hand online, the second I bought new and the third I also found second hand in a Canberra bookshop.

Stephen Booth’s books have been a mixture of new purchases from The Book Depository , Some from charity shops and two I bought online through the book finder address cited earlier. Those latter purchases have been examples of the perils faced when buying used goods on line. When I received the books they weren’t the editions that had been illustrated (they were older) and their actual condition didn’t match that of the written description on the website.
Bringing the problems to the attention of the supplier doesn’t always lead to the customer finding a satisfactory outcome.*

After two disappointing experiences, I’m now reconsidering the buying of second hand books online unless they are completely out of print and can’t be obtained any other way. In the recent cases I only resorted to the second hand orders because the number of books in the Stephen Booth series pushed the overall cost of new ones into uncomfortable territory, and I was eager to get his earlier books for an affordable prices as soon as possible.

At the moment those early books are some of the more expensive, unless I compromised by buying American editions. However an American version of a Derbyshire book, with American spellings and the possible “translating” of Derbyshire turns of phrase into Americanised approximations… well it kind of defeats my purpose of choosing Derbyshire based stories.**

I’m resisting the temptation to order more books for a while.  Over the Christmas break I could be away from home from time to time, so won’t be around to make sure any book deliveries are received securely.

Anyway, I have more than enough crime fiction to keep me going for a few weeks before I need to order again in the new year.

Apart from filling in some of the existing gaps in my collection, next year there will be at least two new books to look forward to: Sarah Wards fourth DC Childs book The Shrouded Path is due for release in the UK autumn, but before that will be The Devil’s Dice, the debut book by Roz Watkins released around March 2018.


The image illustrating this post is part of the book list I keep in my wallet to help me keep track of what I already have so I don’t double up on any title.

*Although one bookseller went above and beyond my expectations to sustain their reputation for good service – sending me a book autographed by the author as a replacement for a copy that had been an ex-library book and was marred by stickers and ink stamps)


** To keep things in balance, I have no problem buying American editions of books by American authors, where American-English is in keeping with the authors intent.

Posted in Ann Cleeves, Anzac, books, Crime, Derbyshire, family, Gallipoli, Lynda La Plante, Roz Watkins, Sarah Ward, Stephen Booth, Steven Dunne, War | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What I Did on the Weekend (Saturday and Sunday)

Saturday took a different path to the one we’d expected. Instead of another day in Canberra and a visit to the swap meet we decided to have a look at lap tops and tablets at the local computer shop.
We’ve been connected to the National Broadband Network for about a week now, and will be paying for the internet access it provides whether we use it or not. Until recently we’d never had the internet at home, and we wanted to see some of the options available. Our home computer is about 7 years old and not compatible to the Wi-Fi connection provided through the NBN.

The salesman was surprisingly helpful and was able to explain things simply without any confusing, show-off computer-speak. He worked out prices for the two options we favoured and we went away to decide between them. Later that day we returned and bought a laptop, anti-virus software, and Microsoft Office.

We went home, eager to set it all up.


Firstly instead of merely turning on a computer that was immediately usable (as had been the case with previous computer purchases) we had to go through a registration and set-up process. It seemed simple enough, but took longer than I liked. Part of the process was selecting the kind of “English” keyboard layout we wanted. Foolishly I selected UK English, not realising that I wasn’t choosing something associated with spelling, where a choice for American English would have given me the foreign versions of English that are becoming increasingly and annoyingly common even outside of the USA.

Instead I was choosing a keyboard layout that meant the @ and ” keys were reversed. Annoyingly it seems like its a selection I have to correct every time I turn on the computer. The UK Keyboard layout has been made the default and I can’t seem to change that setting.

And then I had to try installing the anti-virus. I won’t go into detail, but I tried unsuccessfully several times before I realised I was following the MAC instructions instead of those for PC. That realisation didn’t help because I couldn’t find the PC instructions on the installation leaflet. By the time I realised I could go no further the computer shop was closed, so I had to put it all aside and wait until the next day to try and get the problems resolved.

I had a very restless night. I easily get stressed about technology that doesn’t seem to work as easily as it should. The next day I took everything back and after an hour with the salesman, most of the issues were resolved and I could return home to start using the new computer. (I still had to install Microsoft Office – something that presented a few new problems, but nothing I couldn’t eventually work out for myself).

We’ve now had home internet for about three days, and have realised that we weren’t missing out on a lot by not having it.

We’ve watched several YouTube videos. I’ve played around with my emails and blogs. We’ve checked the weather and viewed the weather radar, watching rain approach our town on screen before hearing it on the roof.

Overall there’s not been a lot that we’ve been able to do with it yet.
We don’t paly games, we’re not interested in Netflix, there’s no one to Skype… but it will make things easier when I’m away from work. I can keep my email inbox cleared, so I don’t return to countless unread messages after two or three weeks.

One of the few immediate benefits was being able to subscribe to Sarah Ward’s newsletter. I tried to do it from my work computer, but my employers security system didn’t like the subscription site. Newsletter subscribers are sent occasional short stories by Sarah. That’s something I’m looking forward to receiving.

Posted in family

What I Did on the Weekend. (Friday)

I remember in my very early school days, when my class were developing basic writing proficiency, we had to write short accounts with the title “What I did on the weekend”.

As I rarely did anything really interesting on weekends, I sometimes embellished my reports – occasionally with embarrassing results.
One of these times was when I spun a story about a burning piece of coal falling from the grate onto the hearthside rug, starting a fire at home that needed a visit from the fire brigade.

Classmates shared the exciting story with their parents who later, either expressed their concern about the averted emergency, or berated me for being a liar. I don’t remember what happened when the story got back to my parents – but I suspect they wouldn’t have been too upset about me stretching the truth for a school writing exercise.

The only other thing I remember writing about (and this time it was a GENUINE experience) was when I saw my very first helicopter, a rarity around my childhood home at that time. These days’ living next door to a hospital, low flying helicopters are reasonably frequent.

Those memories, stirred up by my title, have nothing to do with what I intended to write. What did I do last weekend?

Firstly, it was a long weekend because I also had Friday off.
Gloria and I had intended to stay overnight in Canberra on Friday, so we could attend a “swap meet” on Saturday morning. For those unfamiliar with that term, it’s a kind of trash and treasure market where we’ve seen a lot of rusty car parts but have also found some interesting collectables (art glass, porcelain, militaria).

We had been anticipating this weekend for many months and I booked a hotel room several weeks ago – but as we got closer to the date of the swap meet the weather forecast became a concern, with predictions of rain and possible storms. At the beginning of the week we therefore decided to forget about the market, and I cancelled the overnight accommodation. Instead we made our time in Canberra a day trip (a four hour drive there and back).

For some time I’d been trying to visit a second hand bookshop in one of Canberra’s suburbs, but on recent visits the owner had been sick and the shop remained closed. This time, after a couple of months, it was open again and I was able to look for some of the books on my personal wish-list.
I was happy to find four books by the authors on my list, but what made their discovery even more exciting was the fact the books were the ones I wanted most – books that bridged a gap in the sequence of a series of stories I’ve been reading, or wanted to read.

Books I found:
Sinister Intent, Karen M Davis. First book by Davis. I’d already purchased a new copy of her second book and had tried to order a copy of this one. however after making the purchase online, the bookseller contacted me to say that they couldn’t guarantee a timely fulfilment of the order, so allowed me to cancel it. The copy I found was the same edition that I’d tried to order, an edition that may now be out of print.

Still Midnight, Denise Mina. I haven’t read anything by Mina, but have heard some radio interviews with her. This is the first book in one of the series she’s written, so I thought it would be a good introduction to her work, without having to spend more on something I potentially might not like.

Deity, Steven Dunne. The third of Dunne’s books. I’ve already finished the first two and this one was on my wish list to follow up in the future. At this stage there are other books on my list with a higher priority, but I couldn’t miss the chance of getting a cheap copy now. Dunne is one of my recent discoveries of writers basing work in Derbyshire. His settings are in Derby itself, only 12 or so miles from where I used to live.

The Devil’s Edge, Stephen Booth. Another writer with a Derbyshire setting. I’ve bought several of his books so far, about half new and half second hand. There are so many to get that I feel justified not buying them all new.
If affordable, and still in print, I prefer to buy new so the author doesn’t miss out on the tiny portion of royalties they’d get from my purchases.

Posted in books, Crime, Denise Mina, Karen M Davis, Stephen Booth, Steven Dunne

From the Midlands to the North and then Further North Again.

This week I finished Sarah Ward’s A Deadly Thaw, and posted a review of it yesterday. I loved the book but not my review.

I’ve now started Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves, and I can easily see how her work helped draw me into crime fiction. She has an exceptional talent for telling story through character and place.

The first episode of the Vera TV series was based on this book.
I saw it a few weeks ago and was disappointed. I later saw other episodes based on books I’d already read and found them disappointing too. They cut and changed the stories far too much and didn’t capture the heart of Cleeves’ books.

That all changed when the series moved on to original stories with the same characters. They work far better than the adaptations and I’ve enjoyed the few original stories that I’ve seen so far.

I’m now most of the way through Shetland series two, another drama based on Cleeves’ characters. The first season was all adapted from published books, and in my opinion they were far better than the Vera adaptations. While there are still considerable differences between book and TV show, the first Shetland series worked for me.

Like Vera, the second Shetland series moves into original story territory and so far it has me hooked. I have two episodes to go, so I can only hope that the quality is retained right up to the final story resolution.

After I started Hidden Depths, my copy of Sarah Ward’s third book, A Patient Fury arrived in the mail. If it had come a little earlier I think I would have jumped right into that book, continuing my Derbyshire journey with Detectives Sadler and Childs. However I know I still have that to look forward to – and then there will be a long wait for book four, currently being edited.

I still have another route available on that Derbyshire trip, with the second novel by Stephen Booth, Dancing With the Virgins waiting on my bookshelves. I enjoyed Black Dog , a book I wrote about at the beginning of November (here) and have since started to order his subsequent books.


For more I’ve written on TV adaptations of Ann Cleeves’ books see here:

Posted in Ann Cleeves, Crime, Sarah Ward, Stephen Booth, TV | Tagged , , ,

A Deadly Thaw, by Sarah Ward

A Deadly Thaw starts with the discovery of a murder victim. Clearly nothing out of the ordinary for a crime story, however DI Sadler recognises the victim as Andrew Fisher, a man who’d been murdered 10 years earlier, so how could his fresh body be there at this new crime scene?

Obvious questions arise. Who was the original victim? How did his real identity remain unknown? And where has the current victim been for the past ten years before being murdered “again”?

Lena Gray, wife of the victim, newly released from a jail term for the first murder is the only one with the answers, and yet, as soon as her “resurrected” husband’s recent murder comes to light, she disappears.

Is she now responsible for killing the man she was thought to have murdered a decade before?

This book follows a similar format to Sarah Ward’s previous book, alternating the police investigation with the story of another character who has family connections to the crime, in this case Lena’s sister Kat. It’s an effective technique that keeps us in mind of the human cost of the situation, so that the book‘s appeal remains much more than an intriguing legal puzzle to be solved.

We also see more of the personal lives of detectives Sadler, Palmer and Childs, how they become affected by a case, and also how their work on a case can be affected by their non-work related interactions.

Another feature the books have in common is the way the past and present both collide. In this book suppressed secrets are drawn out to the cost of victims, perpetrators and investigators alike. As one character says towards the end:

“Mistakes from our past are coming back to haunt us.”

The further I got into the book, the more I loved it. As the various seemingly unrelated strands started to come together, the pace increased incrementally to a satisfyingly unforeseen conclusion.
Along the way the story addresses some very serious issues related to the neglect of responsible authority, as well as the abuse and misuse of power.
These matters have become prominently topical in recent news reports.


More information on Sarah Ward’s website:


Posted in Crime, Derbyshire, Sarah Ward | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Phone Problems and Disrupted Crime Reading

Yesterday I was looking forward to finishing the last few chapters of Sarah Ward’s second book, A Deadly Thaw.
I’d been reading it over the weekend and had to put it down just as I reached that final climactic section where everything was starting to be resolved and revealed to the reader.

But my plans were disrupted by my phone company who were very unhelpful when we found we no longer had a working phone service at home.
I more or less spent a whole day at work trying to contact our service provider to speak to someone who was willing and able to help. At lunch time I even had to drive home to try something one of the customer service people suggested (a 30 km round trip) – and then, when it didn’t fix the problem I had to return to the office and try to contact them again.

After all of that I didn’t have the time or the desire to pick up my book. Fortunately, at about 8pm the phone rang and a technician from the phone company advised me that the issue with the phone service had been resolved.

I won’t go into all of the annoying details of the hours of wrestling with their customer service department. All I can hope is that our phone problems are behind us, and that tomorrow I can get back to my book and complete what has been an increasingly enjoyable reading experience.

Hopefully I can write a “review” of the book in a day or two.

Posted in Crime, family, Sarah Ward | Tagged

In Bitter Chill, by Sarah Ward

In the late 1970s, two girls go missing after accepting a ride to school from an unkown woman. One girl reappears some time later, with no memory of what happened. The other is never seen again. Decades later, on the anniversary of the disappearance, the missing girl’s mother commits suicide.

Now an adult, the surviving girl Rachel Jones, wants to find out how current events may relate to the mysteries of her past.

Local police are drawn into Rachel’s situation when a body is discovered; a murder victim possibly connected to those childhood events and the recent suicide.

Ward is a reviewer of crime fiction and this is her first book. She has created Bampton, a town in the Derbyshire Peaks to be the setting of her work. She has described how she created Bampton to reflect different aspects of real Peak towns and elements of those towns have been built into the fabric of her fictional location. (see * below)

She also introduces her readers to the town’s investigating detectives who will feature in her subsequent books. Connie Childs is a young Detective Constable given the task of revisiting the investigation into the decades’ old missing girl case, to see if anything was overlooked in previous investigations that might shed light on the recent events.

Similar to the first few Ann Cleeves’ books that set me on my crime fiction journey, the point of view of others in the community complements the police narrative. The book switches between the official investigation and the personal impact on the victims and others who find themselves caught up in the events, telling a story where community and family relationships are no less significant than solving the crimes that draw its characters together.



I’ve now taken care of the last of my Christmas shopping. After reading In Bitter Chill, I ordered copies of Ward’s first two books for my mum and have ordered hardcover copies of all her books (three to date) for myself.


* https://www.thebooktrail.com/authorsonlocation-fact-fiction-sarah-ward/


Posted in Crime, Derbyshire, Sarah Ward | Tagged , , | 2 Comments