Lena's Books 'n' Blogs

Books 'n' Blogs

Lena has been a music producer, writer and Personal Manager; a photographer and journalist and, over thirty years ago, got together with Caroline Scattergood to create the Caring & Sharing Trust to bring music, hope and love into the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families from throughout Northamptonshire.

 

        By Lena Davis 

 

October 25th 2017
We Didn't Know the Rules
Published in NeneQuirer Magazine on line in October 2017

 

October 9th 2017
What does the tenth dog eat?
Published in NeneQirer Mgazine on line in October 2017

 

September 8th 2017
Get into a thriller, get over yourself and then write about it
Published in NeneQuirer Magazine on line in September 2017

 

August 14th 2017
The world shaping effect of music
Published in September 2017 issue of NeneQuirer Magazine
and on line in August

 

October 25th 2017
We Didn't Know the Rules
Publshed in NeneQuirer Magazine on line in October 2017

David Bowie Made Me Gay
By Darryl W. Bullock
Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd - 7 Sept. 2017
The Late Show
By Miccael Connelly
Orion - 11 July 2017

David Bowie Made Me Gay by Darryl W Bullock (Published by Duckworth Overlook £18.99) has the subtitle “100 Years of LGBT Music”. And that is the true description of this interesting volume. Darryl is also the author of “Florence Foster Jenkins” which was fairly recently made into a film starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.

His latest book is very is very different in respect that it is a highly researched piece of scholarship which might well be the study book for degrees in LGBT studies of the future. As Darryl has to rely a tremendous amount on the printed word (there are pages and pages of end notes listing the various newspapers and magazines which are quoted as fact) this creates a problem of its own. Having been both a Journalist and Publicist in the music business for many years I have to confess that not everything that ends up in print is true – to say the least!

To get the truth you really need to have been there and we can’t expect Darryl to have “been there” for the 100 years the volume covers. However, I was there from the Sixties onwards and, we simply made it up as we went along. What we had in common in the Sixties was that most of us were very young and we didn’t set out to break the rules – we simply didn’t know what they were!

Everyone mixed together be you gay, straight, black, white, or, like some, a mixture of the lot. Nowadays being gay, like being anything else you might fancy, is less of a problem than ever. The problem today is probably lack of freedom of speech and expression. As John Cleese says, there would have been no Monty Python today when comedy is not allowed to make fun of each and every one of us oddballs called the human race.

Everyone who loves American crime novels already lauds the name of Michael Connelly. His latest is “The Late Show” (Orion Books £19.99). Michael is a former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times and really knows what he is talking about regarding procedure. His Harry Bosch thrillers are currently being dramatized in the “Bosch” series on Amazon Prime which is now in its third season.

In “The Late Show” we meet his newest detective, a young woman called Renee Ballard who is a fascinating creation. I loved this book and am already a fan of Detective Ballard.

 

 

October 9th 2017
What does the tenth dog eat?
Published in NeneQirer Mgazine on line in October 2017

Now, think about this carefully before you answer. How often have you been asked officially which programme you have just watched on television? As the evening is drawing to a close have you ever had a knock at the door, a tap at the window, a telephone call or an email from an official asking just what programme it was you watched at a certain time? No?

It seems that the brief return of “Blue Peter” had no viewers at all. Does this mean that even the people who made it and those who appeared on it didn’t bother to look in?

Or does the counting only start with a certain amount of hundreds, thousands or millions? In the old days I am sure they could have at least counted on Sheep the dog’s loyalty.

If the skills exists for this kind of technology what else do “they” know about our peccadilloes? How do they rate those times when the television is on and no-one is either looking or listening? For instance during the Queen’s Christmas speech. Do they know when we nip off for a toilet break and decide to make a quick cup of tea and bolt down a packet of crisps before our return? Do they know when we are texting and not looking? Do they know about the times we nod off, particularly during Swedish dramas?

Does this get you thinking about all the other “facts” we swallow so trustingly?

Who are the nine out of ten dentists who want us to shell out for an electric toothbrush? And, if they exist, what avenues are open to the one in ten dentists to express their views?

Who are the thousands of viewers who phone in to anoint the winner of TV’s “The Voice”? And, more importantly, where are all the winners hidden? Aren’t the Police worried that some years have now passed and not one of the winners have ever been heard of again?

Many years ago I used to work in partnership with Karl Dallas, not only in writing songs, but also providing photographs and articles for many magazines. Karl was a fascinating man whose many talents included being Folk Music Editor of “The Melody Maker”, Jazz Critic for The Times and, most bizarrely, the actual editor on the monthly clothing trade magazine “Tailor & Cutter”. One evening, after many glasses of wine, we decided to provide the readers with not only a “Best Dressed Man List” but also, for the very first time, a “Worst Dressed Man List”.

We came up with the name of Prince Charles and the magazine went to press. What we did not expect was the interest this provoked throughout the National and International press. This increased even more when Prince Charles attended an important occasion impeccably dressed in a tuxedo but with his old shooting jacket, complete with holes in the sleeves, on top. From then on both Karl and I were looked upon by the media as an important part of the Royal Circle! The point I am making is that at no time did anyone, including Prince Charles (who we had never met), ask us how we came to make the list, what right we had to make this list and who we had consulted.

So, to this day, it seems anyone can fling statistics about with abandon. I even saw an advert that said nine out of ten dogs preferred a certain dog food! Who are those dogs and, once again, shouldn’t we know which dog food the tenth dog is enjoying?

By Lena Davis

 

 

September 8th 2017
Get into a thriller, get over yourself and then write about it
Published in NeneQuirer Magazine on line in September 2017
Then She was Gone
by Lisa Jewell
Century - 27th July 2017
Image result for Get Over Yourself: Nietzsche for Our Times (Societas) Get Over Yourself
by Patrick West
Societas 1st August 2017
Write From the Start
by Caroline Foster
Bennion Kearny 21st July 2017

Since “Gone Girl” and “Girl on a Train” there have been a constant flow of similar psychological thrillers. Some have been very good indeed, like Fiona Barton’s “The Widow” and now “The Child”. Some, not to put too finer point on it, have pursued an increasingly thread bare formula that has become trite.

So I implore you, buy yourself a present of “Then She Was Gone” (Century £12.99) because the wonderful Lisa Jewell has reinvented and embellished the formula with a story that goes well beyond a missing girl mystery. By the end of this lovely book we finally find the fate of a long missing fifteen year old and although it is finger nail bitingly good, it is also so much more. The characters not only jump off the pages but most of them will live on in your hearts.

Lisa Jewell says she planned that her very first novel the highly successful “Ralph’s Party” would be a thriller. However, she changed her mind midway through as she so liked the characters she created. We Lisa Jewell fans have had to wait until now, twelve novels later, for what will possibly be the best thriller of the year. The wait, you will find, was really worthwhile.

Now, talking about psychological thrillers, what can be more thrilling than our own psyche? “Get Over Yourself” by journalist Patrick West (Imprint Academic £9.99) asks a fascinating question – what would nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche make of the world we live in today? The thrilling element is that the combination of Nietzsche and Patrick West makes you look deep into your own psyche and makes sure that you really have no place to hide!

Patrick West is a terrific writer and he guides us through the journey of looking at identity politics, therapy culture, religious fundamentalism, displays of emotion, dumbing down and digital addiction. Most of all he makes us examine ourselves, our contradictions, our self-love and self-hate and just about every part of what it is that goes to make each one of us.

If you are sick and tired of the constant industry of self-help books. Patrick and Friedrich combine to illuminate our dark corners. And then, as the books title says “Get Over Yourself”. This is the first book I have read by Patrick West and I now intend to read through everything he has written before and I will keep my eyes open for his byline in the Times, New Statesman, Spectator, etc, etc, etc.

Talking about great writers – how would you like to become one? Caroline Foster has just had “Write from the Start” published by Bennion Kearny (£12.99). The subtitle is “The Beginner’s Guide to Writing Professional Non-fiction” and, as a journalist, I generally view such books with suspicion. They often write about how things should be and not as they are. Caroline Foster has converted me with this great book which is full of lots and lots of information for those of you who would like to become a money earning writer. And, just to show the way, it is incredibly readable. It covers how to do it, how to sell it and how you can make a living (good luck with that one!). Enjoy!

By Lena Davis

 

 

August 14th 2017
The world shaping effect of music
Published in September 2017 issue of NeneQuirer Magazine
and on line in August
Sound System - the Political Power of Music
by Dave Randall
Pluto Press - 20th March 2017
Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache
by Martin Aston
Constable - 13th March 2017
The sentiments set out in “Sound System – The Political Power of Music” (by Dave Randall, published by Pluto Press £11.50) are that music is important to the very structure of our being. Well, obviously, this is partially true. How else would we get our toes tapping, our hips waggling and our fingers snapping? Without music there would be no dancing, singing or people banging on the walls beseeching us to “keep that racket down!” 

Just imagine, if you can through the tears, how bleak a world would be without the opportunity for Simon Cowell to set out each year on his endless and doomed quest to find a lasting star. There would be little chance for such luminaries as Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson to make friends with reluctant primates. There would be no soundtrack to the Nazi’s strutting and the rest of us would be left silently – left leg in and right leg out.

Now Dave is not the only author to trumpet (ha ha!) the importance of music. My pal Martin Aston recently published his huge volume “Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache – How Music Came Out” (publisher Constable £25.00). Whilst Dave Randall often likes to look at music from the viewpoint of left-wing politics, Martin’s whole volume looks at music from a Gay point of view.

Now, as one of my ancestors might have put it “music shmusic”. In other words, what’s all the fuss about? Well, from a strictly philosophy point of view, absolutely nothing should be concluded from just one point of view. Not even this last sentence!

  

Speaking personally, music has charted the course of my life. It couldn’t have been more important. From my very earliest days, when I was knee-high to a very short grasshopper, I was asked to represent a Skiffle group called “The Worried Men”. The lead singer went on to become Adam Faith. My next protégé went to number one with “Tell Laura I Love Her” and my future was sealed. After years of producing, writing and touring with every form of music and many stars I eventually used music to enliven the days of people with learning disabilities. So music has certainly been good to me. Hopefully I’ve returned the favour.

 

However, I make no inflated claims on behalf of music regarding politics or the freedom to be gay. Music and, indeed, the arts in general are an important part of our lives – even if some of us do not always recognise the impact. Even if we never enter an art gallery we remember the images from advertising, our childhood book illustrations, and virtually every aspect of photography. And this is without even touching on the cinema and its impact. Then there is poetry which touches us from long remembered Kipling, through all kinds of birthday and other cards to our own shy attempts. Then comes the enormous impact of theatre even if it’s limited to the grand old English art of pantomime. We could go on and on but possibly the biggest impact is architecture. The buildings from our own history right up to today plus the mythical buildings of soap operas etc. 

So, do I recommend you go out and spend your hard earned money on these books? Yes, I do. Dave Randall is passionate about politics and also a superb writer. Read it and then use your own set of beliefs to come to your own conclusions. Martin Aston is also passionate about the impact of the gay culture and gay people on music. Once again, this is a great read and I am quite proud that Martin has mentioned me once or twice. 

Throughout history gay people have had an incredible impact on all forms of the arts. However, non-gay people can match them for impact. From reading both these books I have been struck by one amazing fact. The impact Jewish people have had on music. Of course, I already knew that most of the writers of musicals were Jews and that popular music from the outset and right through Rock and Roll was also Jewish led. However, I only realised from Dave Randall that Billie Holiday’s marvellous “Strange Fruit” was also written by a Jew. Perhaps there is a book to be written on this subject. If I turn out to be the one to produce this volume I shall welcome the opinions of both Dave and Martin!

By Lena Davis