Friday 22nd May 2020
Q1) The book most influential for you as a young person
A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. . The only book we were made to read at school that we liked. The first novel we could identify with in any way. Before Kes, we thought it was illegal to swear in books. We were stunned.
And of course, then came the film. The local lads that appeared in Kes didn’t go to RADA and come back wearing a cravat carrying a copy of Ulysses. They turned up, did their bit and went back to school and eventually, the pit. And then got shagged senseless every weekend for years on the back of it.
The idea that working class lads could not only enjoy but actually participate in art was revelatory.
Oh - and If you dig Kes, check out the Ken Loach’s The Price of Coal. Only shown once on TV. For years it was passed around mining communities on grainy bootleg videos. Both parts are now available in full on YouTube.
Q2) The book that gets you through hard times
Bad News by Edward St. Aubyn.
Not the most harrowing, but certainly the most beautifully written and elegant account of addiction we’ve read.
We were very wary when we heard about the TV adaptation, particularly with Patrick Melrose being played by Doctor Who. But Cumberbatch was magnificent. We punched the air when he won the BAFTA.
Q3) The book that most disappointed you
London Fields – Martin Amis
We can forgive the teeth and the tennis. But not Keith Talent. The film is abysmal as well.
Yes we know it is limiting, but as with our musicians, we really want to like our contemporary writers as people: Keenan, Erskine, Iain Banks, Rankin, Alan Warner. Supreme talents, but also people we’d like to share a pint with. It’s a weakness and someday we’d like to grow out of it, but we are what we are. It’s the way we were brought up.
Q4) Name a book with either a brilliant opening or a brilliant ending
Ending: The Wasp Factory. Everybody says they saw it coming – we didn’t. Which made the book extra special. FTT.
Beginning: Ripley Bogle by Robert McLiam Wilson. We met him when he was shooting a documentary about how Northern Ireland had the largest sale of baseball bats in Europe. Despite not having a single team or baseball diamond. He was a cool, handsome bastard. His forth novel, Extremists, is probably one of the most delayed books of all time. 23 Years and counting. He’s now rumoured to be working for Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Q5) Your favourite character from a novel
Billy Pilgrim. Prefers sinking to Swimming. We know the feeling. So it goes.
Q6) Next on your 'to read' pile is...
The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong.
Q7) Your favourite poem
Protest of the Physical by Andrew McMillan. Two years to write, three more to sculpt. He once told us that it was if The Howl was set in Barnsley. Which sounds a bit over the top. Until you read it and clock that it is a masterpiece.
Q8) The greatest book you've ever read
For years it would’ve been Last Exit to Brooklyn. A monumental l novel. But now it would be Atomised by Michel Houellebecq. A book we read and re-read. And it just keeps on giving. Its meaning and resonance change as we do. The more we experience and understand, the more we appreciate it. ●
Memorial Device were the greatest rock group of the modern age or at least of Airdrie – Patty Pierce, Lucas Black, Remy Farr and Richard Curtis – but even better when they had Mary Hanna in them.
All form of communication is shunned, apart from t: @memorialdevice