Recommended Read: I Swear I Was There by David Nolan

i swear I was there.David Nolan’s  I Swear I Was There – Sex Pistols, Manchester and the Gig that Changed the World is a hell of a yarn that ostensibly tells the story of the Sex Pistols’ impact on the Manchester music scene in the mid-1970s. 

It focuses on three events – the Sex Pistols‘ first gig at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall on 4 June 1976, their second showing at the same venue one month later, and their first televison appearance on Granada TV‘s So It Goes.

I Swear I was There is a cracking read for anyone interested in the music and culture of the time and like all cracking yarns it’s choc a block full of great chatacters- Tony Wilson, Jordan Mooney, Howard Trafford, John The Postman, Slaughter and The Dogs and many more. Great stuff! 

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Short, Sharp Interview: David Nolan

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PDB: What’s going on?

I’m just recovering from the shock of my first novel being published. I still struggle saying the N Word… novel. It sounds so weird. Author is quite utilitarian but novelist still sounds suspect to me. This is the bit where I plug the book, right? It’s called Black Moss and it’s set in Manchester in 1990 during the Strangeways prison riot. It’s very sweary and unpleasant. It’s not knowing, there are no winks to the audience. It’s just unpleasant.

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

Yes. I like noise. I spent most of my working life in newsrooms with clattering typewriters, three TVs on and people screaming at each other. So yes, always music helps fill the silence: bit of punk, bit of electronica, bit of power pop, bit of reggae. Nearly all my previous books are music-related (I Swear I Was There, Tony Wilson, Damon Albarn) so I have an endless capacity for music.

PDB: What makes you laugh?

My daughter is 15 and she’s very funny. She calls me chief. Or Dave. Neither of which I like. Actually, she’s not funny, she’s annoying.

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

Being teetotal. Like me. And then being very smug about it. Like me.

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

The far north of Scotland. Which is where I’m planning to move in a couple of years. I’d prefer to live on an island on a loch on an island that is impossible to get to, but I suspect I won’t manage to sell that idea to my wife (who’s Scottish). So a nice seaside village is more likely.

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

Nope. I’ve led a charmed life. Honestly, if I died tomorrow I’d be happy with what I’ve done.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

I’m doing quite a few radio interviews this week about the book. It’s set in a radio station, so that’ll be a bit weird. They’ll ask me if the characters are based on real people. I’ll say no. Which will be a lie.

PDB: Anything else?

Yes. Buy my book and I promise I’ll write another one.

nolanBio: David Nolan is a multi award-winning author, television producer and crime reporter. He has written a dozen books including Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, the true story of the largest historic abuse case ever mounted by Greater Manchester Police.

He presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary based on the book called The Abuse Trial. It won both the Rose D’Or and the New York International radio awards in 2016.

Officers involved in the case helped David with the police procedures featured in Black Moss, particularly the way the system deals with missing children.

SMALL TIME CRIMES’ SOUNDTRACK

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Well, I’ve certainly lifted plenty of story and book titles from songs over the years. Small Time Crimes, my new collection, has more than a few yarns with titles nicked from songs I like.

Chelsea Girls

I suspect most people would think that the title Chelsea Girls was pilfered from the 1967 Andy Warhol film and perhaps, indirectly, that’s true. It is, in fact, named after art rockers Simple Minds’ second single. I liked their first single, ‘Life In A Day and ‘Chelsea Girls’ too.  I saw them live around the same time -1979 – at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and always associate the gig with beer and marmite.

In The Devil’s Name

The shadow of the shadow of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hangs over this yarn. SAHB recorded a song about the Scottish witch Isobel Goudie and the pub in the story is called The Swampsnake. SAHB were one of my favourite bands in pre-punk times.

Life After Life

‘Lord Let us pray for life after life,’ sang Sniffin’ Glue founder Mark Perry in a cod reggae song.  It was actually one of my least favourite of their singles but I bought it at the time and still like it.

New Dawn Fades

In rain soaked Leeds in September 1979, I saw Joy Division as part of the Leeds Futurama Festival- along with The Fall, Public Image and many more top turns. And JD made an impression for sure. Their first album Unknown Pleasures certainly did. This was before synthesisers softened their sound. They were still hard edged as well as mournful. They still had punk energy.

Band On The Run

Wings were ‘the band The Beatle’s COULD have been’ according to Alan Partridge. I certainly liked them more than The Fab Four as a kid. The cover of Band On The Run was well talked about at school in 1973, spotting the celebrities, most of whom are probably dead now.

The Friend Catcher

Before Nick Cave turned into the Goth Billy Joel, he was in The Birthday Party, an essential band that mashed up The Stooges with Pere Ubu and more. The Friend Catcher is a spooky ditty that always reminded me of The Child Catcher in Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang.

Yesterday’s Wine

I suspect Willy Nelson sounded old and nostalgic even when he was a child and this is for sure a fitting title for a story about growing old.

Right Place, Wrong Time

This LP was always in the 50p section of the second-hand record shop where I worked but it was years later when I actually listened to it. See what I did then?

Sheila Take A Bow

Morrissey’s tribute to Shelagh Delaney, writer of A Taste Of Honey, Charlie Bubbles and more. Mozza pilfered many of her lines for his songs over the years of course, so it was the least he could do, really. From a time when The Smiths were more than just a soppy student band.

Small Town Creed

The Kane Gang, a bunch of working class lads from the north east of England in love with the sound of Detroit. Back in the ‘80s they had a couple of big hits in the UK but are mostly forgotten these days, sadly.

Pretty Green

One of The Jam’s best tunes with a typically great bass line.

Life On Mars

My older brother Eric gave me Bowie’s Hunky Dory in the early ‘70s and I remember not being able to make head nor tail of the lyrics but bloody well trying! It’s all about our insignificant little lives, isn’t it?

Train In Vain

I saw The Clash in 1978 when the front doors were literally pulled off Middlesboro Town Hall. This song is smooth sounding aim at the American charts but it still has its appeal. They were always a conventional rock band, after all.

Seven Minutes To Midnight

Melodrama from Pete Wylie, the only one of The Crucial Three that I could bare to have a pint with. All sound a fury signifying quite a lot.

Fiery Jack

Flash fiction is sharp and spikey, as were The Fall, and as is this song from my favourite Fall period.

Getting Away With It

The Smiths meets New Order meets … The Pet Shop Boys? Much ridiculed at the time, I think, it was a top 20 hit in the UK and still stands up. And don’t we all like to think we’re getting away with it?

I made a You Tube playlist here 

(This post first appeared  at Toe Six Press)

Small Time Crimes’ Soundtrack at Toe Six Press

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Well, I’ve certainly lifted plenty of story and book titles from songs over the years. Small Time Crimes, my new collection, has more than a few yarns with titles nicked from songs I like.

Over at Toe Six Press, I talk about those songs.

Chelsea Girls

I suspect most people would think that the title Chelsea Girls was pilfered from the 1967 Andy Warhol film and perhaps, indirectly, that’s true. It is, in fact, named after art rockers Simple Minds’ second single. I liked their first single, ‘Life In A Day and ‘Chelsea Girls’ too.  I saw them live around the same time -1979 – at Middlesbrough Rock Garden and always associate the gig with beer and marmite.

In The Devil’s Name

The shadow of the shadow of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band hangs over this yarn. SAHB recorded a song about the Scottish witch Isobel Goudie and the pub in the story is called The Swampsnake. SAHB were one of my favourite bands in pre-punk times.’

If you fancy, you can read the rest here.

Short, Sharp Interview: John Bowie

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PDB: What’s going on?

 

JB: Reading, drinking, being a silly father, reading more, being a trying husband, and… drinking more. Oh, and scribbling and writing — for my sanity and madness; all in perfect balance. Teetering on life’s beautiful edge that’s fueled by all the pre-mentioned that put me there in the first place.

 

PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?

 

JB: I’ve had a permanent soundtrack running in my head as long as I remember.

 

Some tracks are constant; however I do get pests for the day: Russ Abbott’s – ‘Atmosphere’, R Kelly – ‘I believe I Can Fly’, or for some weird-ass reason Richard Blackwood’s – ‘1234 Getin’ with a wicked’ – You’re all welcome by the way!

 

The constants have accompanied me down the aisle, both in my head and literally played at the time (‘I Wanna Be Adored’ – The Stone Roses). And before taking a leap, needing strength; balls out (‘Force of Nature’ – Oasis). I blame Rhys Ifans and the film ‘Love Honour and Obey’ for this.

 

Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ is my creative comfort blanket or on-hold music. It’s where my head goes when I block everything else out. This will come clear in my next book: Transference. All four in the coming tetralogy have intentional, multi-layered, single title Joy Division type titles like this.

 

PDB: What makes you laugh?

 

JB: Often it’s the things that shouldn’t that do. And the things that should… just don’t.

 

I frequently don’t realise my reaction and my wife picks me up on it. I often can’t explain the cause of a smile, giggle or involuntary snort that I didn’t realise I was doing, because when I think about it it’s often just plain wrong, absurd or weird. I write some of these down and into stories to distance myself in a way – disowning the filth, dark, weird and absurd. Until next time.

 

PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?

 

JB: Holy-fuck-a-saurus – the Holy Grail – if only!!!

 

An antidote to that pig that ‘shat in our heads’… ‘a bastard behind the eyes’. Sorry, shameless ‘Withnail & I’ Quotes. I was so surprised to learn the best acted drunk (Withnail) was played by a non-drinker (Richard E. Grant). Maybe that’s a clue to the answer though – don’t touch it! Or, if you do, don’t stop and ‘go all the way’ (Bukowski).

 

I have studied this matter in some detail though and as the years pass the hangovers intensify, and with it so does the need for a cure. So, I’ll share what I’ve gathered so far:

 

Pre-age 20: the ‘hangover’ doesn’t exist.

Early 20s: a Marlboro and a shit is enough to keep going on (after a midday rise).

Late 20s: a strong coffee, Marlboro and shit (after an early afternoon rise).

Early 30s: cider… ‘ice in the cider’.

Late 30s: cider with ice again. But now a nap is required before yet more cider – cycle is to be repeated as required.

Now: milk thistle (600mg min), N.A.C (N-Acetyl-Cysteine 600mg), vitamin C (500mg min) before starting first drink and another dose repeated before the last drink and bed.

In the future: I’m pretty sure a full-on transfusion, drip and head transplant is going to be required mixed with most of the above.

 

PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

 

JB: I’ve been lucky; travelled and visited a lot of places. Pulau Tiga, Pangkor Laut, Gozo, Krakow, Cambodia, Vietnam all stick in the memory. Manchester, Porlock Weir, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle are in my blood, heart and soul though —  Bristol seems to be a smorgasbord of all them — I love it. I’ve discovered I need to be near the water or I feel wrong (and not in a good way). Maybe a Viking thing…

 

PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?

 

JB: No, I don’t.

 

I did drink a bucket (maybe 2,3,4…) in Cambodia after visiting Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields. Also fired a colt .45 as an ex Khmer Rouge soldier let the safety off his own pistol as he held a ‘reassuring’ hand on my shoulder. Later that night, after the buckets, we found ourselves in a Cambodian club. Westerners weren’t allowed on the dance floor all at once so we had to take it in turns. Between the rehearsed local Karaoke, dancers, troops, public announcements and fashion parades –  I got up alone and the stony-faced locals circled, with another armed guard watching on at my bucket fueled cross between ‘the robot’, Rab C. Nesbit and Ian Curtis.

 

I ticked a lot off what I could’ve put on a bucket list that trip, and on others since.

 

The thing is… If I had written a list, it wouldn’t have kept up with what was going on. Life’s a bit like that. Convince yourself to aim for sweet and you could miss the pleasure of the sour. And your taste changes anyway the more, or less, you do.

 

PDB: What’s on the cards?

 

JB: Researching and writing the second in the Black Viking P.I. series: Transference. It’s set in Manchester so I’m revisiting it physically and, in the head, to test if it matches memory: the smell, sights… the sounds of it all — I’m savouring it! It’s nice to revisit the idea of the Hacienda again too. It and Factory Records were so fundamental to my creative journey then and now. The next books could be a homage to the city and them —  doubt it’ll feel like that to read though.

 

PDB: Anything else?

 

JB: I’m currently pondering my first person, present tense style with jumps to the past to give context. Is it in-fact poetic, lyrical, immediate and … right? Or, is it restrictive and switching some readers off… and are they maybe the ones that should be?

 

Wait…

 

‘Another?’

‘Yes.’

‘… with ice?’

Bye x

John BowieBio: John Bowie grew up on the coast in rural Northumberland, a region steeped with a history of battles, Vikings, wars and struggles. These tales and myths fascinated him as a child, and then as an adult. In the mid to late nineties he studied in Salford enjoying the bands, music, clubs and general urban industrial-ness of Greater Manchester, including the club scene and the infamous Hacienda. He was also there when the IRA bomb went off in 1996.