KNIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN

JT relives a poignant scene from his early days as a record plugger at Decca, when the boss of Threshold, the Moody Blues record label, posed a thought-provoking question.

In the long and distant past, I used to plug records for Justin and John from the Moody Blues when they were a band called the Blue Jays. Their label Threshold was managed by a dark glasses wearing American with a deep voice called Gerry Hoff.

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FIRE, MAD DOGS AND ENGLISHMEN?

There are many books about how to write your first novel. Few discuss the blind terror aspect of the activity. Due to a grand bouffe of tweets, text spaghetti requesting how I wrote Taking Leave, here is an apocryphal short story about writing that book. Episode One.

Writing your first novel is never easy. Not when you are worried about winning the Booker Prize before lifting a  pen to write the first paragraph. I chose to write ‘Shedding Skin’ as it was then known, on a Greek island situated in the middle of nowhere. Athens was a 12-hour boat ride away, Turkey six hours and London 48 hours, with a very good tailwind. The date of my arrival was auspicious – March 17th – St Patrick’s night. I had decided that if I was going to write the book I needed to sever my connections with the UK and go as far away as possible from prying eyes of friends and family.

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HANDSOME BRUTE – THE STORY OF A LADYKILLER BY SEAN O’CONNOR

Jeremy Thomas reviews Handsome Brute – The Story of a Ladykiller by Sean O’Connor.

This excellent book about  the infamous 1940’s murderer Neville Heath is published this week.

Handsome Brute is an apt title. Heath was a good-looking, well built, brave and charming WW2 RAF pilot who murdered two women, with such brutality that ‘war-hardened police officers vomited on seeing them’.

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SILVER LININGS…. SO CLOSE SO FAR!

Jeremy Thomas on Silver Linings Playbook

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper) moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Maybe I am being too hard on writer/director David O’Russell. Maybe I have an axe to grind due to my past experience and the penultimate chapter of Taking Leave. Yet no one could have been more of a supporter of O’Russell’s first two films Spanking the Monkey and Flirting with Disaster. He has a brave and keen eye for the unusual and knows how to write original comedy better than most. And if someone wanted to give an Oscar for the first 70 minutes of any film this year, I would vote for this one, even over Argo and Amour. But did O’Russell then throw away a possibly great movie?

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DO YOU REMEMBER WHERE YOU SAW YOUR FIRST SERIOUS MOVIE?

WHAT WAS YOUR LOCAL CINEMA CALLED?

Writing about films on a website belonging to a writer of books may seem odd. But I am odd and have been a serious film fan since the age of 10. The first serious movie I saw was The Great Escape with my elder brother Chris in the local flea pit at Gerrards Cross, The Essoldo. Plush red velvet bucket seats with half moon brass ash trays screwed into the back of the seat in front. Plumes of cigarette smoke rising from every row in the place. Two usherettes with trays of ice cream and Kiaora. The clipped tones of the newscaster or announcer on Pathe News followed by wonderful amateur adverts for the new local Chinese restaurant  Hong Kong Garden and Joys & Waves  the new hairdesser on Station Way, not forgetting Marshalls the toy shop… And then the movie itself.

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