Thanks to the lovely ladies who invited me to their book group last night at the Newquay in Teignmouth. You were very welcoming and extremely kind about The Generation Game. I was honoured to be initiated into the group by being told the motto. Just as well I can keep a secret…
Very sad to hear that Davy Jones has passed away. We watched The Monkees as kids on the telly and Daydream Believer has always been a favourite of mine. So much so that it is the theme tune to my novel The Generation Game – if a novel can have a theme tune. It was played at the book launch last summer and Judi Spiers played it on her radio show just a week ago at the beginning of my interview…
Amother link to my childhood gone, but not forgotten.
Very excited to be on Judi Spiers show tomorrow morning between 11 and 11.30 on BBC Radio Devon. I grew up with Judi on the telly and it will be so cool to chat with her. She just gave me a name check on today’s show and said that The Generation Game is the ‘best debut novel she has ever read’!
Tune in if you can…
From 1972-74, my parents, two older brothers, Sammy the cat and I lived above the Candy Shop on Belgrave Road in Torquay. It was a shop that you only find in seaside towns; we sold sweets, fags and grockle tat (for those of you that are not Devonian, ‘grockles’ are holiday-makers). I was only little but this time and place has always stayed vividly in my mind and became the setting for my debut novel, The Generation Game.
The Candy Shop is now a security shop. But I still drive past every now and then, just so I can remember…
There are far more famous connections to Belgrave Road. Agatha Christie was baptised in All Saints Church which was just over the road from us. And further down, towards the seafront, is the Grosvenor, made notorious recently from the hilarious Channel 4 documentary, The Hotel.
A few months ago I visited my old school in Teignmouth and talked to some English students about the book. They asked me who would play Philippa if the novel was ever made into a television drama. I turned the question back on them, and one lad suggested Miranda Hart. Genius. But I only discovered today that Miranda was born in Torquay in 1972… How cool is that?
Don’t ask me how my brain works, because I don’t know, but today I was listening to the classic pop song Hold Me Close by David Essex. Check out this Youtube video to see the 1970s in all its gilded glory and spangled splendour.
Just love the way men could dress back then, anyhow they wanted. A flowery choker and a hairy chest could sit well together (admittedly looking like David Essex helped – not sure my dad could have got away with it)…
… so I was only a 7 year old when this song was in the charts but, whenever I hear it, I go straight back to the sweet shop where we lived in Torquay at the time. This was the setting for my debut novel The Generation Game and indeed Hold me Close is ‘played’ twice in the book at significant moments. There’s something about the cheesy words, his slight cockney accent, the flares, the cheap Top of the Pops set that makes me long for that simpler world.
Or is that just plain old nostalgia…? And is there anything wrong with that?
So sad to hear Bob Holness passed away today. He was part of my cultural heritage growing up, hosting the fab kids’ quiz show, Blockbusters. It was comforting to watch, coming in after a day at school, before setting out on an evening of homework (yes, OK, I was a bit of a nerd but proud of it). Just the right pitch of questions for me as a a teenager. And who can forget the infamous ‘Can I have a ‘P’ please, Bob?’?
For those of you who have read my debut novel, The Generation Game, you will know that I have a mild obsession for quiz shows from the 70s ands 80s. In fact, one of my characters, an old lady called Wink, likes to watch Blockbusters of an evening. Well, it was was one of the best. And Bob was a gentleman who I rank up there with the greatest of hosts, even Sir Brucie.
My thoughts are with his family. He will be sadly missed.
Next year, the BBC will celebrate 40 years of the trailblazing children’s news programme, Newsround. Like many British kids, I grew up learning about current affairs from John Craven. Unfortunately he is now remembered more for his array of comedy jumpers, than for his news broadcasting.
But Newsround was a revolutionary idea that nearly didn’t make it off the ground. According to the show’s creator Edward Barnes, society believed that childhood was a golden age, a time when the young shouldn’t have to worry about the world around them. “Even within my own department there were people who said we shouldn’t be doing this,” explains Barnes, who was deputy head of children’s television at the time. “Why should we tell children about disasters and massacres and murders? They thought it was violating children’s innocence. There was a Victorian idea of childhood, that it is something to be protected and guarded – there was still a lot of that around at the time.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2011/nov/29/newsround-creator-edward-barnes)
Finally, adults realised that children need access to the news so that they can make sense of the world around them and be outward-looking.
Because of its late-afternoon scheduling, Newsround was the first news programme to break several momentous world events, including the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.
But it doesn’t stop with kids. If you are an adult and you don’t understand the intricacies of the World Trade Organisation or the Kyoto Agreement on climate change, then Newsround will explain the fundamentals in a simple, unpatronisng way.
One of the characters in my novel The Generation Game, an old lady called Wink, is a telly addict who never fails to watch John Craven’s Newsround – just so she can keep one step ahead. And to comment on those jumpers.
The John Craven Years is being shown on Christmas Eve on BBC2 at 7.oo pm. Forget the sprouts and tune in.
Had my first school Q and A today as a visiting writer. It was at Trinity School in Teignmouth (the old Convent of Notre Dame) which was highly appropriate as that was where I learnt to write. It was so weird to go back as an old girl, to chat in the library (chat!) where I used to borrow books, and to talk with such awesome young people who were so enthusiastic about writing. Made me want to go back in time to be that age again, with the whole world out there, waiting to be discovered.
Great excitement in the Duffy household as Sir Brucie is finally knighted. For those of you out there who don’t know, my debut novel The Generation Game was published this summer and is in part homage to Sir Bruce and the other TV stars of my childhood. So I was thrilled to see that Tim Brooke-Taylor and Graeme Garden are made OBEs – which makes a full set of Goodies as Bill Oddie got his a few years ago.
And Bernard Cribbins got an OBE too. I remember him clearly from the 70s … The Railway Children …. Jackanory ... The Wombles … what a voice. So glad he’s been honoured and good to know that her Majesty likes a bit of nostalgia too!
And from the world of literature there’s an MBE for novelist Kate Atkinson and for children’s laureate Julia Donaldson. Both very popular in our house. Congratulations.
Check out the BBC link for more details…
Go Brucie, go…
There were some classic Hollywood blockbuster films back in the eighties: Top Gun, Ghostbusters, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Beverly Hills Cop, Gremlins, Flashdance, Fame, An Officer and a Gentleman, Big, Tootsie… a whole load of movies that cashed in on merchandise and music and videos and the cult of the film star… But one has stayed with me for some reason and that is Back to the Future …
I first saw it on its release in Canada with a good friend in 1985. It blew me away – one of those films which you have to keep on playing inside your head to make sense of it all: the way it plays with time and destiny and the decisions we make – it is a much deeper film than the slick production, special effects and fab actors suggest.
It was great to see it again on telly tonight, watching it for the hundredth time but now with my daughter who was equally blown away. It’s hardly aged – except that the ‘present’ of the film – 1985 – is now very much in the past – 26 years ago! Though for us teenagers of the eighties it seems like yesterday…
For anyone who has read my novel The Generation Game, you will see that I am slightly obsessed with the seventies and eighties – my childhood and teenage years. I love nostalgia and anything vintage or retro – you should see the junk I’ve collected in our house. It’s not just looking back with rose-tinted glasses – I remember Mrs Thatch all too clearly – the miners, the unemployment, the negative equity, the end of society and the worship of money and the individual (I went on the marches…Smash the Tories!!!). But I also remember a happy childhood with only three TV channels and a pogo stick.
So Back to the Future offered excitement and deep existential questions, a type of science fiction that has never grabbed me since, as it is founded in the possible. OK, so time travel isn’t necessarily possible but it is something that we as humans are drawn to. ‘Space the final frontier’? – actually, no it is quite possibly ‘time’. What would you do if you could go back and change one thing? I know what I would do … but you out there will never know that…. Each of us has our own regrets and it is what we do with those regrets that matters.