Saturday 22 October 2011

Trippers - William J Booker

Over the next few months, I plan to highlight some exciting new authors I have discovered online, published by small press or self-published.

The first author I’d like to introduce is William J Booker, author of the 1971 popular culture book ‘Trippers’. I first read a sample on Authonomy and knew I just had to buy it.

My Review:

Trippers is a profound and important book about the life-changing experience taking place in the life of Bill Booker and his friends over a period of two weeks in the summer of 1971. The writing is beautiful and of its time. Beginning in Leicester, Bill reaches a turning point in his life as he questions his existence and the pure futility of living until he alights on the idea of a journey as a passport out of the gloom and depression of Leicester. The book is peppered with nostalgic references, infusing deeper significance to those of us of a certain generation: Ted Heath, power cuts, Double Barrel, Spirit In The Sky, Reefer jackets. Bill gravitates towards a new crowd of like-minded, mind-expanding, enlightenment-seekers who listen to the soundtracks of the time - Cream, Captain Beefheart and Pink Floyd - while imbibing certain mind-altering substances. Bill's travelling companions and fellow trippers, Ray, Jake and Syd are vividly described, the 'tripping' of course not only referring to their planned trip to Weymouth, perhaps an unlikely destination for enlightenment, but also to the psychedelic substances they ingest before they hit the road and during their time away. The reality of living cheek-by-jowl with fellow travellers is beautifully observed and with plenty of wry humour as we get a more in-depth portrayal of the characters, their complexities, their vulnerabilities, even their personal hygiene problems (Ray's foot odour problem for one!) as their shared experience of tripping bonds them. Egg and chips provide fuel for the boys wherever they travel, but even the fried eggs, sunny side up, become a metaphor for something deeper (if only I liked fried eggs). There are great discussions aplenty and some very eerie experiences when they are tripping, like the walk in the dark back to the campsite, but the whole `trip' to Weymouth provides the catalyst for the meaning of life, and a new self-confidence and fearlessness in Bill as he embraces the philosophy of Tim Leary: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out. But more than this, Bill's quest and understanding about light, love, and oneness, is like reading one of those books about Buddhist experiences and the connectedness of all existence, leaving one with a sense of awe and positivity.

William, or Bill as he is known to his friends, is only in touch with one of the 'trippers' now, two of them having sadly died since. Trippers is meant to be a stand alone book, not part of a series or to have a sequel.  I wondered how he would follow such a book, whether it would be possible.

Bill tells me he has been working on an idea for a mystery thriller, though he thinks it would be a tiny fish in a big pond compared to Trippers, which has a good niche. “It would be something like a cross between Robert Goddard and Simon McKernick, but there are so many about and even some established authors are having their work turned down. It has to be something really fresh and original as well as extremely well-written and even then it's hard to promote a mainstream novel without a sizeable budget to force its presence on the potential readership. Having said the above, if we believe we have something worthwhile, we should do it!"  Bill also has three unfinished novels and several short stories that he’s never attempted to publish, so he has no shortage of material and new ideas. 

Bill divides his time between writing and graphic design. He also enjoys reading, photography and walking.  

Book trailer for Trippers.

Trippers can be purchased from Amazon and other online stores and all good booksellers.  It has been very well-reviewed, all of them 5 star.

More about William J Booker and Trippers can be found at his website:

Friday 30 September 2011

Monday 11 April 2011

30 Day Song Challenge Facebook - Days 16-30

Day 16 - a song that you used to love but now hate. I'm sure I did love ‘Silver Machine’ by Hawkwind once, when it was first out, but can't bear it now

Day 17 - a song that you hear often on the radio. I don't listen to the radio much except Radio 5 Live, so I chose ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry & The Pacemakers, being an LFC fan

Day 18 -  a song that you wished you heard on the radio. I've already mentioned that I don't listen to the radio for music. But a record I want is 'No Great Dark Man' by Erasure. I used to hear this in a club we frequented in Bournemouth, early 80s, called the Third Side

Day 19 - a song from your favourite album. That's almost as bad as picking a favourite song. But I picked a song from one of my many favourite albums: 'Penthouse & Pavement’ from the album of the same name by Heaven 17

Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you're angry. Not something I relate to - but when I was annoyed with neighbour noise, I used to wear headphones at night and play this trance CD. The track from the CD I chose was ‘Suitcase At My Door’ – Break of Dawn

Day 21 - a song that you listen to when you're happy. I’d already done something very similar so I chose a song with a feelgood factor instead: Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I Wanna Do’

Day 22 - a song that you listen to when you're sad. As for the previous day, this isn't a concept I relate to, but ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears has the feel-sad factor for me. The following day I heard an equally suitable record that definitely touches the sad part of me in a good way: ‘Dock of the Bay’ – Otis Redding

Day 23 - a song that you want to play at your wedding. I don't do weddings (except for FB ones ;-)) So picked a favourite song with suitable sentiments: ‘Love My Way’ by Psychedelic Furs

Day 24 – happened to fall on  Mar 31st so I waited until midnight ie officially April 1st and then posted this: Day 32 - a song that's funny. That would be Fario's Poll! I know it's a bit obvious but would be interested in others thoughts on this hilarious track ;-)  I wondered if anyone would notice if there wasn’t a Day 32, or that Fario’s Poll doesn’t exist or that it’s an anagram of April Fool!  In fact, my brother did. He wrote: “Strange how there isn't a YouTube video for it????? But there is one for "Anagram to Heaven" by Fred Zeppelin...”

Day 24 – (the real Day 24) -  a song that you want to play at your funeral. I chose something that wasn’t depressing or morbid, but a comment on the natural seasons in life: Windmills Of Your Mind by Noel Harrison. More telepathy between my sister, Ann, and me, as in the first fifteen days.  She was a day or so behind me but thought ahead what she might have. She said, “That was a song, Kate, that I was also contemplating doing. Really some more telepathy! I had considered it a lot but will do something else now.”

Day 25 - a song that makes you laugh. I'd not heard this before but I remember my mum telling me about this funny classical rendition so I thought I'd hunt down a version on YouTube. It didn't take me long and it is very funny ;-)) The Meow Song performed by 2 choir boys. Basically, they’re meowing in beatific tones. You could call it a cat’s choir.

Day 26 - a song that you can play on an instrument. I chose Mary Hopkins’ ‘Those Were The Days’. To say played may be a bit of an exaggeration. I  could play it on a recorder, once upon a time, after a fashion

Day 27 - a song that you wish you could play (on a musical instrument). Well, that's just about any song that I like, so it seemed a good  excuse to play another of my many favourites: Masquerade by George Benson – a beautiful song

Day 28 - a song that makes you feel guilty. I had problems interpreting this so I interpreted it as a song that makes me feel guilty or embarrassed for liking it which made it very similar to 'guilty pleasure' but I have several of these songs anyway. I selected Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’

Day 29 - a song from your childhood. Ann couldn't believe when she saw I'd chosen the theme tune from ‘Boss Cat’ because she was going to choose it!! More telepathy!

Day 30 - a favourite song from this time last year - OK, it was from only 6 months ago but there was the election around this time last year which gave rise to the stinking ConDems and their stinking cuts.  I chose Captain Ska's 'Liar Liar'. This was the last day – or so I thought, and I was going to add a few of my own, then I found out there was a 50 day song challenge, but that looks very repetitive, so I am adding a few more of my own over the next couple of weeks. I hear that two other people known to me are on a similar wavelength in that respect. I will say no more, for now

Saturday 19 March 2011

30 Day Song Challenge Facebook - Days 1 - 15

When a Facebook friend tagged me to do this, I thought it looked fun but I nearly fell at the first hurdle when I saw that for Day 1 you had to pick your favourite song. What?  How?  I’m one of those people who doesn’t have one favourite. Hell, I’d be hard-pressed to find 100 favourites.  But I’d posted up one of my many favourites on Facebook the previous day, so decided to go for that and that was me launched. These are my choices for the first fifteen days.

Day 1 – your favourite song.  ‘Break’ by Aphrodite’s Child.  I bought his as a single in 1975. For me, it’s very evocative of that long hot summer.  The single had a black and white swirly record label and Aphrodite’s Child remained a mystery to me right up until I posted the YouTube link which inevitably invited comments.   I learned that Demis Roussos and Vangelis were a part of this group.  I think I’d have preferred to be kept in the dark

Day 2 – your least favourite song – all I had to do was think of one of those very naff records that grates.  Of course, The Birdie Song.  (The Smirfs or Akka-Doo would have done just as nicely). Except my brother told me he had gone for Bryan Adams, mine was too obvious and he was obviously giving it more thought. That’s when I decided I would too and I decided to do a blog. My sister chose ‘Lady In Red’ by Chris de Burgh. I commented on her thread that it was an excellent choice of song for this category and that I’d wished I’d chosen it.  I also backtracked on Day 6 and said that I was changing my least favourite song to 'I Will Always Love You' by Whitney Houston. That got a big thumbs up.

Day 3 - a song that makes you happy. I went with 'Perfect Day' by Lou Reed, not just because you think of it when you get those perfect days, but because I love it when we sing it in our community choir with all the different parts (I do the tenor). A friend (the same friend who'd invited me to the challenge) said that it was one of the more gentle songs about heroin.  Well, you learn something new every day. All these years, and I never knew. Is Sangria in the park a euphemism for chasing the dragon?  Now the weird thing is, on Day 6, I was thinking if I was doing this day again I’d choose ‘Wake Up Boo’ by The Boo Radleys.  My sister was up to Day 3 in her choices and guess what she chose?  Yes. The Boo Radleys!  More synchronisities were on the cards.

Day 4 - a song that makes you sad - having had a sneak preview a few days before, I'd planned on Rare Bird's  ‘Sympathy' But then I remembered Klaus Nomi’s version of Dido's Lament. It makes me more than sad. It makes me weep even just thinking about it. Dido’s Lament is a song that is played at funerals, but Nomi’s version with such an operatic, dramatic rendition had to be the one.

Day 5 – a song that reminds you of someone. 'Honey Come Back' by Glen Campbell.  I was only eleven at the time, but me and my sister had a crush on a certain older man managing Woollies. This and a few other songs of that time, summer 1970 (Friends by Arrival, Everything is Beautiful and Sally, the Pride of Our Alley) remind me of him ;-) My older brother reminded me that ‘Arrival’ was out at the beginning of 1970, but we were obviously still singing/hearing songs from earlier in the year at that time.

Day 6 - a song that reminds you of somewhere - 'Muscle Bound' by Spandau Ballet. Reminds me of working at the Sandbanks Hotel as a chambermaid, Spring 81.

Day 7 – a song that reminds you of a certain event – this could have been any number of songs, but I went for The babys and ‘Isn’t It Time’ which reminds me of starting work as a Clerical Officer in Customs & Excise in December 1977

Day 8 – a song that I know all the words to, also one of my favourites. No More Mr Nice Guy by Alice Cooper. Well, I say I know all the words but there was one line that was ambiguous which over the years I believe to be ‘The Reverend Smith, he recognized me, and punched me in the nose’. But at the tender age of 15, I wasn’t so sure. Cue Smash Hits (ir was it Disc?) to the rescue.  They used to print the lyrics of chart songs.  But they printed it as ‘The Ribbon Snippy recognised me …’ My sister and I had never heard of a ribbon snippy. We thought perhaps it was an American term.  But I’ve never heard of a ribbon snippy before or since!
NB - as a result of posting this, I found out that Roger Daltrey did a cover version of it. 

Day 9 - a song that you can dance to. I chose Wicky Wacky by The Fatback Band. This is an excellent track from 75, at least that's when I was dancing to it in a Liverpool warehouse-type night club. I can still picture the dance and taste the shorts and see the UV lighting. My sister, ever on my wavelnegth, had already decided to go for Bust Stop by The Fatback Band for her dance record.

Day 10 - a song that makes you fall asleep. I had a few days offline so had time to think about this one – not that I needed much thinking time. I knew it would be one of Loreena McKennitt’s - the harp and  lulling new Agey tones are very conducive to slumber. I should know, because I often put my ipod on during my sleepy time and fall asleep. I chose one at random from The Mask & The Mirror album, bought for my sister and me by our father who was introduced to LM by our uncle.  The strange thing is, Ann told me she’d posted up a song by LM on Facebook that same day.   

Day 11 - a song from your favourite band - that's as almost as bad as picking your favourite song, and OK David Bowie isn't a band but he did have a backing band. I went for Rock n Roll Suicide. This choice, naturally, went down very well with my fellow Bowiephiles, all clamouring to share their favourite early Bowie tracks from the album or other albums of that era

Day 12 - a song from a band that you hate. Now hate is a strong word and shows a reaction. Nay, the worst thing you can do as an artist or band is to bore your listener, and there’s plenty of those. Girls Aloud summed it up for me. Not that I know or care to know their repertoire so I had to google them and listen to half a minute or so of some insipid pap called 'Call The Shots' (Sorry, Cheryl, no offence).
I was also embarrassed to post it lest anyone should be hurrying on by and not read it properly so I added a footnote. For you people: I DON'T LIKE THIS and hoped any last vestiges of street cred were still intact.  Now my sister swears I said I liked The Sound of the Underground and my brother listened to 30 seconds of it, and thought it wasn't bad if it had been done by someone else. I rest my case.

Day 13 - a song that is a guilty pleasure. I chose Barry Manilow’s ‘Could It Be Magic’. I loved this from the moment I first heard it in 76 and bought the record. Many people have done covers, but to me they don't come close. I love the way it builds up towards the end. My unhip reputation is intact once more.

Day 14 – a song that noone would expect you to love. I chose Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. I didn't know if people wouldn't expect me to love this but I love love love it.

Day 15 – a song that describes you – I chose Wordy Rappinghood by Tom Tom Club seeing as I spend half my time with words, I thought this was apt, though I would have had one by The Editors had I found one suitable. My nickname, among certain family members, being 'the Ed'.  

I will be back to post up Days 16 - 30 when I've finished the challenge.