Month: October 2017

Know Your Place

It’s a strange thing when you actually become aware of how class works in Britain. A dawning realisation that can shift your perception of everything, like your eyes focussing after you’ve just woken up.

Whether it’s realising that your friend’s idea of going on holiday doesn’t mean going to a caravan park somewhere near the coast for a week ( that’s if you even go on holiday), or the way that girl at school gleefully tells anyone who’ll listen that your Mum cleans her house as though it makes you and your family somehow intrinsically lesser people.

The lived experience of being working class in 21st century Britain isn’t a universal one but Know Your Place from Dead Ink, edited by Nathan Connolly, does a good job of conveying life experiences on a variety of subjects filtered through the prism of growing up working class in 21st century Britain.

Simply put Know Your Place is The Good Immigrant for the working class, being inspired by a tweet from the editor of that book, Nikesh Shukla.

As Connolly points out,

‘There is a vision of the working class we like to cling to: a romanticised, fetishised idea that is still rooted somewhere around the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier in 1937, an account of working class life written by a man educated at Eton.’

The essays collected here cover a broad spectrum of life experiences and observations about being working class in Britain in 2017. Rural poverty and the myriad obstacles writers from working class backgrounds face, how class and race intersect, how ‘working class’ accents and backgrounds can still cause major problems for people (a good example of this being MP Laura Pidcock’s comments on her experience of Parliament) and many more.

This book is important and timely given the way that the ‘working class’ have become a convenient scapegoat for a lot of things in recent political developments. Now it’s hard to think of the working class without thinking of Jeremy Kyle’s eponymous TV show, in the space of a little over a decade it’s become firmly rooted in the media landscape presenting a parade of troubled families for the nation’s entertainment.

Know Your Place shatters misconceptions and stereotypes embedded within the barrage of press and media coverage by presenting real stories and perspectives from real working class people.

Buy Know Your Place here.

Forgotten Film Club

 

Forgotten Film Club is the latest book from Jon Spira, the writer of Videosyncratic which is one of my top books published recently, I explain at length why here.

The idea behind this new book is definitely an interesting one, a look at a film that has it seems been completely and utterly forgotten by, well, pretty much everyone. A film that barely even gets a mention on the internet outside of IMDB and Wikipedia. I expect this book may possibly change that.

The film in question? Morons From Outer Space which starred amongst others Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones.

Smith and Jones, as they were generally referred to, became one of the biggest comedy duos in Britain at the time. I can definitely remember seeing them on TV but I think I was a little too young, or just not interested, in why or how two men sat opposite each other talking about things was supposed to be funny.

An early point that really stands out is that every film, regardless of whether it’s the latest record breaking box office smash hit or something loitering in the lower regions of Tesco’s DVD chart, is the result of the hard work, blood, sweat and most likely tears of dozens if not hundreds of people.

This is something that’s often overlooked, the outrage over Suicide Squad winning an Oscar for Best Makeup comes to mind.

Whilst this is a relatively brief affair at just over 130 pages, it definitely proves one thing, Spira can evidently write an interesting and engaging book about film, any film it seems, because it’s not just about an obscure British film featuring a comedy duo best known for their work on TV, Forgotten Film Club takes a look at how society engages with film and looks at elements of this film, from the science, or lack of it, to the writing, direction, casting and why it failed so spectacularly despite featuring well known stars.

One of the most interesting aspects of Forgotten Film Club though is how Spira crowdfunded the book via Kickstarter without actually telling anyone what film the book is about, that in itself is pretty impressive.

You can get Forgotten Film Club: Book One from Amazon or maybe ask your local book shop to order it for you.

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