I began listening to my grandmother properly — and with a tape-recorder — twenty years ago, when she was already in her late 70s (she died when she was about 97). I loved listening to her: her use of language was so musical, and apt, and vivid. She would have recognised Chaucer, I sometimes thought, her speech had a similar earthiness, a poetic, sophisticated seeming-simplicity that arose partly from character, partly from the rich and very old religious and social background in which everyone around her shared. And partly because she did not learn to read until she was in her 60s, and everything was from memory – stories and jokes and dreams told and retold, in an oral culture that prized the ability to do this in the most skilful way possible.
The dazzling, powerful story of a gutsy showgirl who tries to conquer her past amongst the glamour of 1960s Las Vegas – finding unexpected fortune, friendship and love.
Words by Gregory Norminton
For years, I have wanted to write a book about ‘deep England’ in the manner of Adam Thorpe’s Ulverton: a narrative that charts the many places that one place becomes over generations. It was only by living far away – in Edinburgh, and later Manchester and Sheffield – that I realised where my subject awaited me: in the unsung landscape of my Surrey childhood.
A fish pie, bulging at the seams like an overstuffed pillow, its filling full of herbs, cream and smoked fish oozing as it’s cut.
The snap of cold that comes at the start of the year is perfect porridge weather. I’ve never understood those who eat it like clockwork, regardless of the temperature. I love the warmth of it on a cold day, a bowl in my hands like a morning hot-water bottle, the quick but nourishing time spent stirring at the stove a welcome interruption to the busy rush of the morning and a few minutes to let my mind wander at the start of the day.