Wednesday, 15 April 2020

If it's not Broken


I finished Broken Greek over the weekend - Pete Paphides' utterly enchanting coming of age memoir. It documents Pete's first 13 years (1969-1982) growing up in Birmingham with his Greek Cypriot parents and older brother, Aki. 

Set against a backdrop of down at heel chip shops and prepubescent anxiety, his early childhood is soundtracked by anyone in the charts (even at such a tender age his knowledge of the hit parade is encyclopaedic) he feels could step in to the breach as replacement parents: one of his many anxieties (and a recurring theme in the book) that, in his eyes, he wasn't living up to his mum and dad's expectations of him. Being glued to Top of the Pops from the age of seven his first musical love, Eurovision winners Brotherhood of Man ("I felt they understood me - the kind faced blonde woman & the only slightly less kind-faced dark-haired woman") seemed like ideal surrogates should his parents ever give up on him. As did Abba. And Kiki Dee ("You could tell she was a nice person, not least because of her immense generosity in letting Elton John join in her song.")

As he moves through school and different friendship circles and as his addiction to record shops becomes all consuming, so Pete's musical palette widens - forays into the Barron Knights (one of the books many highlights) and Racey give way to a new post punk crowd - the Human League, Orange Juice and Dexy's Midnight Runners all fight for ownership of Pete's turntable and all are written about with such love and affection - his homily to Kevin Rowland is particularly moving. By the end, you'll probably begin to see your own interest in music as merely pedestrian by comparison - I know I did.

A huge thank you to Pete for personally signing my very own book plate. And thanks for a riveting read.

10 comments:

  1. Sounds great, and with lots to relate to, thanks for the recommendation. Great bookplate message there for you too, what a lovely chap.

    ReplyDelete
  2. John, This immediately goes to the top of the reading list. I'm in awe of Pete's new label too. I bought the Stephen Duffy and Ian Broudie albums last year. They cost a fortune to get a hold of here in America, but well worth the price. You could tell they were put together with love. I have the two Robert Forster albums on CD that he has recently re-released, but I will be replacing them on vinyl as well. Thanks for everything, Pete!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice one, Brian. Do you listen to his weekly Soho Radio show? It goes out live every Tuesday 12.00 - 14.00 BST, but the old shows are all up on their website. It's essential listening!

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. I've recommended his book to so many people: it's so uplifting. Definitely a lockdown read.

      Delete
  4. That's such a cool bookplate and a book I will have to read. Whenever Pete pops up on those talking head kinda shows, I just sit there nodding in agreement, as he goes through his archive of 1970s chart rundown notebooks, with every song and artist listed in often multi-coloured felt tip pen. Pete fortunately kept his whereas for most of us, they are long gone.

    Thanks for the heads up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like I said to TS, this is a book to help you through the lockdown. I really hope you get a copy.

      Delete
    2. Bought a copy today for the kindle, which is not as satisfying, but enjoying it enormously already. Thanks for the heads up.

      Delete