Tag Archives: Hull

Hull

hull

Hull
Pevsner Architectural Guides
By David and Susan Neave
Yale University Press – £14.99

There’s something about the city of Hull that is both fascinating and alluring, yet oddly off-putting in equal measure. What’s more, it’s hard to decipher which of these feelings ultimately take precedence. Although either way, this all together authoritative, practical and wonderfully illustrated guide of one of England’s leading ports since the Middles-Ages, really isn’t hard to decipher.

In fact, it’s something of a shame that there aren’t many more books like this on more British cities. Reason being, it’s far more than that which it’s secondary title proclaims. It’s just as much an all round guide and essential background reference, as it is an architectural guide.

For instance, this Pevsner Architectural Guide of Hull also includes a number of Excursions toward the rear of the book. ‘Excursions,’ being something, which in all honesty, one wouldn’t normally associate with Hull.

As such, from page 187 onward, there’s background information as well as maps, on the surrounding environs of: Hessle and the Humber Bridge, Cottingham and West Hull Villages, East of Hull: Hedon and Burton Constable, not forgetting of course, the absolutely wonderful small town that is Beverley.

The latter of which, I had the utmost pleasure of enjoying for a morning, and cannot help but agree with the following: ”Beverley is one of England’s most attractive country towns, and deserves to be better known. Its historic core, with medieval street plan, is remarkably intact. The town has many fine houses, predominantly Georgian, a rare medieval brick gateway, a handsome market cross, and a superb Guildhall, but its greatest architectural works are the Minster and St. Mary’s. No other town in England can boast two parish churches of such exceptional quality […]. Any exploration of the town should start at the Minster, where the history of Beverley really begins. Bishop John of York, who founded a monastry on the site of of the Minster in the early C8, was canonized as St John of Beverley in 1037, and it was the development of his cult which encouraged the growth of a town to provide for the needs of pilgrims and churchmen” (‘Beverley – 8.5 miles from Central Hull’).

Moreover, the bulk of the book really does focus on the city of Hull itself, which all told, lends the city a certain panache; especially when one colour photograph of a delightful old building is placed alongside, another. And then another.

Augmented with maps and an array of drop boxes which feature something most idiosyncratically indicativeof Hull itself – the Georgian Docks, Hull’s Victorian Sculptors (Earles and Keyworth’s) or Hull’s Telephone Boxes (cream-painted for the city’s independent telephone company), this book is resoundingly well detailed considering the amount of information it has set out to ultimately convey.

At 233 pages in length (excluding a really helpful Glossary and Index of Artists, Architectects and Other Persons Mentioned), Hull may be conceptual in application, although it really is concise in its appreciation of a much overlooked, very English city.

David Marx

 

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Bedsit Disco Queen

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Bedsit Disco Queen –
How I grew up and tried to be a pop star
By Tracey Thorn
Virago/Little, Brown – £16.99

Along with the likes of Paul Weller, Jeff Buckley, Morrissey and obviously countless others, I’ve always been somewhat drawn to the music of Everything But The Girl. The British duo of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, formed at Hull University in 1982, and whose name derives from a furniture shop in the city called Turner’s – who at the time, had a sign in the window that read: ‘’for your bedroom needs, we sell everything but the girl.’’

Having always been rather understated in their music (which I believe is part of the attraction) and inexorably silent with regards their private lives (it was never publicised that they were a couple, let alone married, let alone had three children), I couldn’t help but be instantly drawn to Thorn’s memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen – How I grew up and tried to be a pop star.

True to the music and, I should imagine, the personality of the authoress herself, the book is an exceedingly pleasant, mild-mannered and persuasive and read, which never ever ventures into a slight imprint of shall we say, Keith Moon territory. But then it was never going to. EBTG did after all, have about as much in common with the rock’n’roll lifestyle of The Who and the Stones et al, as perhaps George Osborne.

So if you’re expecting a titillating and tempestuous read, punctuated with tales of mayhem and madness, this isn’t it.

These 360 pages are a chronological overview of Tracey Thorn’s – and to a certain degree, Benn Watt’s – professional life, viewed through the prism of the relative limelight. As The Guardian’s Alexis Petridis has been quoted as saying: ‘’As distinctive and lovely as its author’s singing voice, Bedsit Disco Queen isn’t just a wry and wise memoir of a unique career; it acts as a kind of eulogy for a forgotten era of British pop.’’

I know what he means.

Could you imagine any of today’s current assembly line of charmless, faceless, gormless, talentless, witless, Botox induced slappers in heels, admitting to – let alone actually writing – any the following (from the chapter ‘Popstar Trace’):

‘’The lyrics I wrote now were almost exclusively personal, and given that every second of my life seemed so vivid and rich with detail and event, there was no shortage of subject matter. The smallest, most ‘trivial’ things could provide inspiration or an opportunity for reflection. I had no worries about whether or not these stories were too private to be of interest to an audience; I never even really considered any particular audience. I felt entirely connected to the time and place in which I was writing the songs, and so believed that those around me would feel the same as me and would understand them. Like every other new band who find themselves taken up by the press, we took the attention for granted, having no idea how precious it was, how hard to come by and how impossible to recapture once lost.’’

Somehow I think not.
Regardless of how psychologically well groomed ye current onslaught of (so-called) talent-show contestants will continue to bow down at the alter of fame and fortune.

To be sure, Thorne touches on as much later on in the book (in the chapter ‘Express Yourself’), wherein she writes of her own loss of role model: ‘’But the 1980s had become a very much more conservative decade. The female icon you were supposed to revere above all others was, of course, Madonna, and no one could have seemed more alien to me. A shiny, brash, Teflon-coated embodiment of AMBITION, she was absolutely a version of feminism but not the one I felt I’d signed up for, and the pouting and flirting of songs and more particularly videos like ‘Material Girl’ and ‘Like A Virgin’ left me cold. Manipulating men, using your feminine wiles ‘to your own advantage,’ above all exploiting a simplified version of your own sexuality was suddenly the name of the game.’’

Unfortunately, it still is the name of the game – which is why I wholeheartedly agree with the aforementioned Petridis, that Bedsit Disco Queen ‘’acts as a kind of eulogy for a forgotten era of British pop.’’

It absolutely does, which is just one of the reasons that makes it so very readable, valuable and worthwhile.

David Marx