Friday, June 29, 2007

Making The Stand

So, just how brilliant is this?"
Mika Brzezinski, we salute you. You go, girl!

If only a few other broadcasters had the same standards about what's actually important and newsworthy in this day and age and what is crass tittle-tattle and utter nonsense that's of no earthly relevence to anyone or anything.

Bloody Paris Hilton, I mean who actually gives a damn? There's a war going on, that's news. Some spoilt rich girl getting 20 days in Stir because she seemingly believes laws don't apply to her, genuinely, isn't.

I expect Mika will get taken to the woodshed over this by her lickerty-split bosses at MSNBC. Come to England love, it's the land of "proper" journalism, you'll fit in like a glove over here.

How I Came To Be, Part The Second

Good looking family that. Mine, as it happens! This is 27th June 1942 and my mum and dad's wedding at Walker Parish Church. As I previously mentioned, I've been doing a lot of genealogy over the last year. I've somewhat let it slip in recent months as work and other ephemera has got in the way but a couple of recent e-mails pointing me in new directions that I hadn't previously known about have managed to reignite the flame.

So, the lineage goes something like this:
My parents were (and, in my mother's case, still were) Thomas Topping (B. Walker 1918. D. 1991) and Lily Lamb (B. Walker 1920).

My grandparents are also relatively easy to reel off: Andrew Topping (B. Walker 1890, D. 1952) and Bridget Gollaglee (B. West Hartlepool, 1893, D. 1972) on one side and Andrew George Lamb (B. Elswick, 1896, D. 1973) and Elizabeth MacKay Elliott (B. Walker, 1895, D. 1973).

Two generations back and the furthest from Newcastle I've managed to get to is Hartlepool. It's not very exotic, is it? Ah, but then, at the great-grandparents stage, it starts to get a bit more interesting geographically.

Thomas Topping (B. 1833, Crosby on Eden, Cumberland) and Margaret Dinnell McMillan (B. Mochrum, Wigtonshire, Scotland 1844) were my grandfather Topping's parents. And this is the first point at which things threaten to get a wee bit complicated with that old bane of most genealogists lives, "the second marriage". Seems old Tommy Topping (originally a blacksmith in Cumbria but later a tradesman bricklayer and, ultimately, a self-employed house builder and shop owner) was twice married - firstly to a lady called Mary Robinson, by whom he had seven children. Then, after she died (of the 'fluence, apparently) in the mid-1870s, he remarried and had six further children, with Andrew being the youngest. But the malarkey doesn't stop there. His second wife - Margaret McMillan - was, herself, what they used to call "a widow-woman." She'd previously been married to a man called Mr Arbuckle and had four children by that marriage (all of whom came to live with the Toppings and were, of course, half-siblings of my grandfather since they all shared the same mother). There'll be further fun and games when it comes to the complexities of Margaret's background later.

Then, there's the Irish connection: Edward Gollaglee (B. Stanton, West Hartlepool 1860, D. 1941 in Walkworth) and Sarah Gordon (B. Wolviston, Co Durham 1858, D. 1907 in West Hartlepool) were my grandmother Bridget's parents. And here we hit one of the great mysteries of my family tree. Edward Gollaglee was born Edward Gallagher and was married as Edward Gallagher and, indeed, on the 1891 census, just a couple of years before Bridget's birth, he was still calling himself Gallagher. And, so were his father and mother and his six brothers all of whom were living quite close to each other in Stanton. Suddenly, at some point during the early 1890s they all - more of less simultaneously - changed their name to Gollaglee. Why though, is another question entirely.

Edward's father, James Gallagher (more of whom later), presumably came over the Teeside during the potato famine in the 1850s. The family speculation is that, perhaps, they thought Gallagher sounded "too Irish" and, because much anti-Irish discrimation was taking place at this time (this was an era of perceived Irish sedition) they simply changed their name to what was, essentially, an anglicised version. The irony now, of course, is that whilst Gallagher has somewhat lost many of its Gaelic connotations (bless yer cotton socks, Liam and Noel, I may be your long lost cousin!) on the other hand Gollaglee sounds about as Paddy as "the bogs and little people." Anyway, we'll get back to both Edward's parents and his wife, Sarah's, parents later.

Next, we come to a man who may well be my hero: My grandfather Lamb's parents, Edward Lamb (B. Snape, Suffolk 1860) and his wife, Mary Ann Mitchell (B. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 1863). So, here you've got Edward Lamb. As we'll find out later, he's the son of an agricultural labourer in the village of Snape (lovely place by the look of it - they've got a very nice village website. I must go there for a visit some time). Edward's grandfather was also an argicultural labourer, and his father was an argicultural labourer and so on and so on probably back as far as The Domesday Book - the name, alone, suggests they were probably originally shepherds. He was the youngest of - I think - fourteen children (certainly fourteen who survived). Sometime around 1880, when he was twenty, he decided to move. I don't why - probably it was necessity for him. He realised that to follow his father's life would have been a dead end and that he needed, if he wanted to make anything of himself, to go where the work was. Although I doubt he would have seen it in quite these terms, in his own small way, this man was as much of a visionary as Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Robert Stephenson concerning the way in which the world was changing. The Industrial Revolution was here and, like it or not, you had to adapt or you became moribund in society. So, Edward travelled to Great Yarmouth, met and married Mary Mitchell and their first two sons (Bob and Ted) were born there in 1887 and 1889 respectively. Sometime between then and late 1890 when their daughter, Clara was born, the family moved 300 miles north to the grim terraced streets of Elswick in Newcastle's West End. There Edward worked in William Armstrong's munitions factory on Scotswood Road. And, it was there - in Maria Street (which still stands to this day) that in 1896 my grandfather Andrew Lamb - later a decorated war hero - was born. Without Edward deciding to move North, I would never have been born. My grandfather would never have met my grandmother, simple as that. And, it's upon literally thousands of those kind of fleeting chance moments that the course of the lives of every single person on the planet is decided.

Tiny sidenote about the Lambs of Snape: Edward, as mentioned, was the youngest of fourteen children of peasant farmer, William Lamb of Snape (he's actually described in the 1851 census as "Pauper - Agricultural Labouror"). William's eldest daughter, Eliza (24 years Edward's senior born in 1836) married a local man, William Clouting who was, rather fabulously, a police constable (PC Clouting! That's an arrestable offence, these days...) Anyway, sometime around 1865 Eliza and William moved to London (Aldgate, specifically) where William became one of the Metropolitan Scuffers. They had a couple of daughters, one of whom, Harriet, married another Peeler, Frank Jarman in 1888 and they and a son, set up home in Whitechapel in the East End. Now, what's the only thing Whitechapel's even remotely famous for? Jack the Ripper (one point if you said that, minus fifteen if you said The Talons of Weng-Chiang). When was he doing his stuff? Autumn 1888. Frank must've worked on the case. In't that brilliant? I'm only about six degrees of family separation removed from Jolly Jack.

Right, back to the great grandparents. Lastly, we have my mum's mum's mum and dad John George Elliott (B. Walker, 1874, D. 1933) and Allison Gaylor Agnew (B. 1869, Hutchesontown, Glasgow D. 1936). They, along with just about everyone else on that side of my family, lived on Walker Road during the 1890s and 1900s. The 1901 census on 61 - 75 (subsequently 1561 - 1575) Walker Road reveals people related to me in just about every house. Well, you didn't move far to find a wife in those days (unless you were Edward Lamb, seemingly), next door would usually do.

Great, great Grandparents: Sixteen of them and each one with, I imagine a story to tell: There's Thomas Topping (B. Cumberland, circa 1971) and his wife Elizabeth Little (B. Lanercost, Cumberland, circa 1972). The Littles' were a family of blacksmiths in the area (Elizabeth's brother, Robert was subsequently a master blacksmith in Carlisle). One of their daughters, another Elizabeth, has three sons in the 1840s without, seemingly, marrying anyone? Gosh, I imagine there was quite a scandal there. One of her sons, John (born in 1844) did fantastically well for himself at the Carr's of Carlisle biscuit manufacturers, ending up in a management position (I remember my dad telling me years ago that we were in some vague way connected to the Carr family but he thought it was through a marriage).

Next we have Margaret's mum and dad. James McMillan (B. Sorbie, Wigtownshire, Scotland 1824) and Mary Ann Kirby (B. Mochrum, Wigntonshire. 1826). And, here's another tale of two marriages. Mary Ann died of consumption, aged just 30, in 1856. James - a ship's carpenter by trade - and his family (Margaret was the eldest of five and she was only nine years old) then moved to Dumbarton where Margaret acquired a step-mother, Jane Gordon, and two step-siblings. Then the whole family moved to Newcastle which is how she ended up meeting first James Arbuckle and then, eventually, Thomas Topping. It's on such decisions as these, taken a 150 years ago, that my life rests.

James Gallagher (B. County Sligo, Ireland 1832) - the marriage recorded list his name of Gonogan! - and his wife, Mary Ann Gray (B. Stockton on Tees, 1834). Again, without the potato famine that decimated Ireland in the 1850s, I would never have been born as not only James Gallagher and his family, but also John Gordon (B. Ireland 1826) feld to the North of England. He married a Bridget Roper (B. Wolviston, Co. Durham 1831) herself a first generation Irish girl.

Meanwhile, back in Suffolk, where the cowshit lies thick, William Lamb (B. Snape 1814) and his wife, Mary Dale (B. Snape 1817) were producing their fourteen children and living in a single-room building on Snape Street. I cannot even begin to imagine the back-breaking poverty and misery of what kind of life they must've have had.

Mary Mitchell's parents are really interesting. Her father, John Henry Mitchell (B. Barking, Essex, 1833) was a fisherman which is how he and his wife, Ann Elizabeth Marks (B. Barking, 1835) ended up in Great Yarmouth in the first place. Finding the Mitchells marriage (and the maiden name of Ann for that matter) was one of the greatest tasks I had to undertake in my search through and Genesreunited. I finally found them almost by accident when looking for something else entirely. The name Marks suggests the possibility of some Jewish blood in me, something I hadn't previously even considered. Unfortunately, my delving into that particular line of the family tree has reached a halt at Ann's father, Henry. I'd love to discover that a generation of two previously, the family had been immigrants from, perhaps, continental Europe. But that's all speculation and research for another day.

James Elliott (B. Consett, Co. Durham 1849) married Margaret Ann Jane Moffett (B. Newcastle upon Tyne 1852, D. 1933). My mother still remembers Margaret (her great grandmother whom she knew simply as "'Nana" and who died when she was 12). The reason why, fantastically, I know so much about the Elliotts, the Moffetts and various other branches of this side of my family is almost entirely down to one man, Albert Elliott - James and Margaret's youngest son, my mother's great-uncle. Now, the Elliotts seem to have been a really smart bunch - most of the family were skilled tradesmen (Jack, my great-grandfather, was a master plumber for instance) but a couple were highly educated in an age when not many people were. Jack's brother Lambton was an office clerk, for example, and their youngest brother, Albert, also began a clerical career whilst, simultaneously, freelancing as journalist with two local newspapers the Journal and the Evening Chronicle. That I'm sort of following in a family tradition here with what I do for a living is a source of considerable pride. I like to think Albert would've been impressed.

In 1932, Albert obviously went through something of a similar process to what I'm doing now. He'd been surrounded by all of these fantastic stories since childhood and he decided that this needed to be recorded for posterity. So he sat down with his mother, Margaret - then 80, and got all of her reminiscences down on paper. Whether any of it was actually published anywhere I don't know, but a couple of years ago - through another relative Karen Elliott - I received a copy of 12 pages of a typed manuscript Memoria in Eterna (actually, the article is about seven or eight pages but it appears that Albert did a bit more research, got some further details and so rewrote the last few pages) which includes this incredible narrative about the family. Without it, I'd know virtually nothing about these people but with it, it's almost as though they're in the same room. About, for instance, how James and Margaret first met whilst she was working as a barmaid at the Staith House club in Pelaw. How James started work at the age of eight (yes, eight!) for Losh, Wilson & Bell's Foundary in Walker. It's a fascinating document, not only in family terms but as a piece of real social history.
Allison Agnew's parents were William Agnew (B. Belfast, Ireland 1841) and Susan Johnston (B. Glasgow, 1845).

The great, great, great grandparents - or "the round of 32" as I refer to them - is where I start to lose a few threads. I can't find anything further on the Toppings without a visit to Crosby on Eden although, thanks to a couple of friendly correspondants, I've discovered at least three more generations of Littles beginning with Elizabeth's parents - John L Little (B. Nether Denton, Cumberland 1764) and Margaret Topping (B. Lanercost, Cumberland 1761). That last name is, obviously, fascinating. What relationship was Margaret Topping to Thomas Topping, her son-in-law some years later? Obviously, these are villages where you've got maybe ten houses, a pub and church, and usually everybody was everybody else's cousin. But, the name Topping cropping (s'cuse the pun) up so close to, but not a direct part of, that line of the family is intriguing.

James McMillan (B. Wigtownshire, Scotland, 1796) and Margaret Dinnell (B. Wigotownshire, Scotland, 1791) and - the most recent discovery of all, just last weekend - Robert Kirby, an Inkeeper, no details known and Ann Wales (B. England c 1800) were the grandparents of Margaret McMillan. Ann Wales appears to have led a very confused life, just like her grandaughter, being married twice (after Mr Kirby's death, she took up residence with one John Fletcher who at various times appears to have been a spirt salesman, a groom and, a pauper). Those were, of course, hard times for a widow-woman with a young family, you did what you could to survive and pay the rent.

I've virtually nothing further on the Gallaghers beyond that James's parents were Fergus and Maria and that the latter was born in "foreign parts" according to the 1841 census (though it's down as Plymouth on the 1851 census!) which fits in with yet another bit of oral family tradition, that someone in my grandmother's family had some Latin (possibly Spanish) blood in them. Or the Gordons or Ropers for that matter (I know that Bridget Roper's mother, Sarah - maiden name unknown - was born in Co. Mayo in 1800). Fortunately, however, the one thing they seemed to do very well in Suffolk was to record who was born when and where and to whom and, thus I can add Thomas Lamb (B. Snape, 1784) and his wife, Patience Taylor (B. Snape, 1788) and Samuel Dale (B. Brantham, 1791) and his wife Susannah Story (B. Benhall, 1793) to the list. And I can go back a generation further with the Lambs to yet another Thomas Lamb (b. c1750 in Snape).

Henry Mitchell (B. 1806) was John Mitchell's father. He was married to a lady named Anne - maiden name not known - B. 1808 in Grays, Essex. Henry Marks was born in 1800. His wife was Mary - again, maiden name unknown - who was born in 1803 Ilford, Essex. She, poor love, ended up in 1851 in the Romford Union Workhouse. That, tragically, is all I know about her. A similar fate befell a slightly more distant relative, Dorothy Bowman, born in 1762. In 1841 she was "living on independant means" with one George Dodds, a sailor in Newgate Street, Morpeth according to the census. By 1851 she's an inmate at Newgate Street Union Workhouse, Morpeth (aged 89). See what I mean about appreciating where you've come from?

James Elliott was born in Wooler, Northumberland in 1812. Memoria in Eterna has some lovely details about him. He was referred to by his widow, Mary Simpson, as "a canny man." The 1851 census states he was living at 19 Foundary Place, Walker. "His classification of trade was below that of his relation Sandy Simpson. Sandy was a skilled plumber, whereas James Elliott was a 'gangster'" his grandson Albert would write a century later. James died during the Cholera epedemic which swept Newcastle in 1854 whilst living on Bell Street in Walker. His wife, Mary Simpson (B. Scotland, 1820) appears to have been something of a smart lady. She already had a son - Alex - before marrying James. After her first husband's death, lived for many years with a foundary worker named Robert Irving.

James Moffett (B. "in a cottage on the hillside at Rothbury" in 1822 according to Albert's article) was married to Isabella Bowman (B. Morpeth 1822) and here, my tree intersects with a massive branch. The Bowmans of Morpeth are a huge family - they deserve a tree all of their own - and they've been traced (by other researchers, I hasten to add) through Isabella's parents - William Bowman (B. Morpeth 1797) and Isabella Mosgrove or possibly Musgrove (B. Hinkley Redrow, Throckley 1798) on through half-a-dozen further generations all the way back to the early 1600s. According Albert Elliott's article William Bowman "as a young man was a Postillion on the carriages or coaches which travelled from Edinburgh to Morpeth." The Bowmans also provide the only three genuinely "famous" (or, at least notable) of my relatives. Firstly William Woodman (b. 1806), who was married to one of the Bowman girls and who owned the 160 acre Stobhill Farm and was first town clerk of Morpeth in the 1830s. Secondly, Edmund Bowman (b. 1807) who was a kind-of cut-price George Stephenson - a civil engineer who built the first railway link between Morpeth and Newcastle. And lastly, the noted landscape artist Thomas Bowman Garvie (1859-1942). Again, I'm very proud to be associated with all three of these - one a respected local official, another a man who helped - in his own small way - to build the modern world and the third a creative artistic type. Spot on, guys.

My great, great, great grandparents on my mum's mum's, mum's side were a bit more humble in origin, perhaps. William Agnew (B. Glasgow 1818) his wife, Sarah Young (B. Ireland, 1821) and William Johnston (B. Ireland, 1818) and his wife Allison Gaylor (B. Scotland, 1813). I've got a few scant details on both Sarah Young's parents (James Young and Frances Dow who would've been married in Ireland sometime around 1800) and also the lineage of Allison Gaylor. And this is really interesting: Her father, John Gaylor married a lady who is described on various documents as Jane Topin, or Toppen, or Topping (b. Bo'Ness, Linlithgowshire, 1774). Circles within circles! (I also traced her parents James Topin and Jane Cathrae).

I can go back a generation further on the Littles of Cumberland - John Little (B. Nether Denton, 1731) who married Margaret Graham (B. Lannercost, 1734). And the McMillans - James's parents being Anthony McMillan, a carpenter (B. 1760, Garliestown, Wigtonshire) ansd Jean Gowan (or, possibly, McGowan). And the Lambs - Thomas Lamb (B. Benhall, circa 1750) who married Mary Knight (B. Suffolk circa 1750). And the Dales - William Dale (B. Suffolk, 1761) and his wife Mary Howard (B. Suffolk, 1767). As noted, they seemed to keep excellent parish records in Suffolk so I've also got details of Susannah Story's parents - John Story and Mary Hadnum (both born circa 1750).

Alexander Simpson (B. Midlothian, Scotland, 1797) and his wife, Agnes (b. circa 1800) were Mary Simpson's parents whilst, William Moffett (B. Morpeth, 1779) and Jane Potts (B. Morpeth, 1780) were James Moffett's mother and father. After Mr Moffett's death, Jane reportedly ran the local hostilary for many years. William's parents were James Moffett (B. 1756) and Isabel Wallis (B. 1756) who were living at Coatyards in Northumberland in the mid 1780s. William Bowman's mother was Jane Matfin (B. 1755) who married John Bowman in 1783.

There are other side branches and subdivisions of a massive family tree that currently includes over 1,700 names but that's - in a nuthsell - what one year of research has produced. At one stage, I had in my mind an idea for Roots-style book on all of this. Of course, Alex Haley had slavery and the Civil War as his backstory, I've only got the Industrial Revolution and the Potato Famine so there are, probably, only about twelve people who would find some interest in it. But the notes are still here and, you never know, one day I might come back to it and novelise the whole thing like some sort of working mans' Forsythe Saga. If, in ten years time you're sitting in an airport somewhere reading DESCENT by Keith Topping, remember, you read the idea here first!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This Month's Ranting

Current Listening:
Neil Young
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
Rogue Traders ("Here Come the Drums!")
This Mortal Coil
Johnny Cash
New Order
The Chemical Brothers (bloody AWESOME at Glastonbury on Sunday, by the way)

Current Viewing:
Doctor Who
Twenty/20 Cricket on Sky Sports
Cold Blood
Season Two of Lost (having a complete rewatch and, amazingly, it does hang together ... mostly)
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (alas, and farewell)
Seven Ages of Rock (except for those two really crappy episodes in the middle full of Big Hair and Spandex)
Balderdash & Piffle
Qi and Top Gear on UKG2

Current Reading:
Well, it's mostly the stuff for next week's Book Club so, more on this later!

I've been doing a lot of genealogy work over weekends recently as mentioned in an earlier post. It's very addictive. I've managed to track down pretty much full details on all sixteen of my great, great grandparents which, considering that some of them were born in the 18th Century is decent going.

Remember, there's a new Book Club next Monday (6:30 GMT) and I can be heard, daily, doing Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tips for Today. And, if you can say that without having your tongue removed, you're doing better than me.

Pet Peeves: The Most Unfunny Man in the World

I love a bit of stand-up comedy, me. Always have done, right back to seeing Billy Connolly and Jasper Carrot live in the 1970s.

Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey, Phill Jupitas, Jack Dee, in particular my hero the American comic Steven Wright. Brilliant stuff. Inventive, witty, informed.

And, then there's IainLee.

This, here, is Iain Lee. You might recognise him from a couple of quiz shows that he hosted for the Beeb (The 11 O'clock Show was probably the best known one) or as a presenter on children's TV, or from his slots as on commercial radio or, more likely, as one of those utterly interminable alleged "celebrity talking-heads" who turn up on those Channel 4 "Best Something Or Other in the World. Ever"-type shows that appear with monotonous regularity.

You know, it's him, Stuart Maconie, Marcus Brigstock, Vernon Kaye, Jamie Theakston and all of that crowd. Maconie, at least, has the fact that he's decent writer to fall back on but who, exactly are these other people? I mean, what do they do to justify their existence and breathe the same air that we do? They appear to be famous entirely for being famous, if you see what I mean. Some day, presumably, Channel 4 will put together a "Best of the Best Something Or Other in the Word. Ever" compilation which will feature nothing but three hours of these non-entities talking about any and every subject that's given to them without being in any way "informed" or actually knowing what the hell they're talking about.

This skinny wretch, in particular, pisses me off no end with his cynical looning (I'm told he's a big Lost and The Monkees fan but I don't care, not even those features redeem him). Now, again, I like a bit of cynicism in comedy as much as the next man. But, it has to be delivered with a modicum of charm otherwise it falls as flat as a pancake. (Look at, for instance, Stephen Fry at his most caustic, or Jack Dee, or Rich Hall - all of their comedy is, largely, based on being pissed-off fortysomething blokes, but they're also likeable with it).

Mr Lee, I'm afraid, just comes over as a smug, vastly unlikeable tosser whom I would really rather like to tie to a chair and then hit, in the face - hard - with a metal-framed photo-album containing images of some genuinely funny people. You know the kind of thing ... "This is Peter Cook. He was funny, you're not," WHACK. "These are Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimore. They're funny, you're not," WHACK. "This is Tommy Cooper. He was funny, you're not," WHACK. "This is Bill Hicks. He had more genuine humour in his little finger than you have in your entire body," WHACK. Etc.

I dunno, maybe it's just me channelling my dad (it's happening a lot, recently - especially, and worryingly, when it comes to music!) and I'm being desperately unkind to the poor bloke who's lovely and befriends kittens and is good to his mother. But, it's got to be said it's a very hard thing usually for someone on television to produce that kind of reaction in me - it being, after all, MY JOB to watch drivel on a daily basis. I can even put up with Big Brother so long as the wind's in a prevailing direction.

Anyway, more pet peeves may occur to me in the future if this curiously Mosleyite mood continues but in the mean time if you've got anyone that you'd like to see hit in the mush with a metal-framed photo-album for being a smug, ferret-faced, unamusing lanky glake, just let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Raspberry World

A quick plug.

The latest issue of Raspberry World, a multi-media fanzine, edited by my good buddy Diana Dougherty is now out. It includes the 1,001 Movies You Must See Afore Ye Die malarkey previously mentioned.

Anyone reading this in the US who wants a copy, you can email Di at for further details on price and ordering (I'm told it's available through PayPal and all sorts of things that I don't understand).

Anybody in the UK who wants one, I've got four to sell - I was hoping to have five but ... whatever. Drop me an e-mail on a strictly first come first served basis (£2.50 postage and packing inclusive).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Internet is Responsible for all the EVIL in the world.

Of course it is.

Such actions are thoroughly naughty and bad and wrong and those responsible should all be fisted, within an inch of their collective lives. And then fisted some more.

So, remember kids, if you want access to TV or movies or records from the other side of the world that aren't available in your own country because large corporate organisations with more money than God haven't seen fit to release them in your territory yet, find a friend and "use a postman" instead.

You know it makes sense.

This poster, incidentally, is from the excellent
as part of their series Propaganda for the Internet Age.

June - Book Club Update

We start, this month with a necessary statement of fact:
Social comment, that is.

In other news, episode 19 of the Book Club was broadcast on BBC Radio Newcastle on Monday 4th June. You can listen to the show here:

The books feature were:
David Tossell - Grovel: The Story and Legacy of the Summer of '76 (Know the Score Books)
Paul Smith - Wasted? (Know the Score Books)
Dixe Wills - New World Order (Icon Books)
Sinclair MacKay - A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The History of Hammer Films (Aurum)
Sally Beauman - The Landscape of Love (Time Warner)
Alistair Moffat - The Borders (Birlinn)
Joe Moran - Queuing for Beginners (Profile)

Also received during April and May:

Political and Social History:
Richard Toye - Lloyd George & Chruchill: Rivals for Greatness (MacMillan)
Stephen Dorril - Black Shirt: Sir Oswald Mosley & British Fascism (Penguin)
Hugh McManners - Forgotten Voices of the Falklands (Ebury)
Patrick Bishop - Bomber Boys (HarperCollins)
Don Jordan & Michael Walsh - White Cargo: The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in American (Mainstream)
David Kynaston - Austerity Britain (Bloomsbury)
Nicolette Jomes - The Plimsoll Sensation (LittleBrown)

Steve Overbury - Guns, Cash and Rock 'n' Roll: The Managers (Mainstream)
Marybeth Hamilton - In Search of the Blues (Jonathan Cape)

Martin Roberts - Durham 1000 Years of History (Tempus)

Mike Adamson, James Dart, Sean Ingle R Rob Smyth - Is it Cowardly to Pray for Rain? (Abacus/Guardian Books)
Peter Baxter (ed) - Test Match Special: 50 Not Out (BBC Books)
Peter Marinello - Fallen Idle (Headline)

Martin Day - Doctor Who: Wooden Heart (BBC Books)

George MacDonald Fraser - Royal Flash (Grafton)
Wilbur Smith - The Quest (MacMillan)
Bernard Cornwell - The Lords of the North (HarperCollins)
Rob Eastaway - How to Remember (Almost) Everything, Ever! (Element)
Rodolfo Figwill - Malvinas Requiem (Serpent's Tail)
Kate Pullinger - A Little Stranger (Serpent's Tail)
Henry Nicholls - Lonesome George: The Life & Loves of the World's Most Famous Tortoise (Pan)
Lionel Shriver - Double Fault (Serpent's Tail)
Alexander Ikonnikov - Lizka and Her Men (Serpent's Tail)
Walter Mosley - Fear of the Dark (Serpent's Tail)
Simon Young - AD 500 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Barbar Gowdy - Helpless (Little Brown)
Cathi Unsworth - The Singer (Serpent's Tail)
Matthew Morrison - Big Questions (Wizard Books)
Danny King - School for Scumbags (Serpent's Tail)
Stella Duffy - Mouths of Babes (Serpent's Tail)
Heidi W Boehringer - Crossing the Dark (Serpent's Tail)
Pat MacEnulty - From May to December (Serpent's Tail)
Sean Connolly - Wholly Irresponsible Experiments! (Icon Books)

Among the books that'll be featured in the July Book Club (which, all things being equal, should broadcast on Monday 2nd July at about 6:35 -ish- PM) will be:
Andrew Marr - A History of Modern Britain (MacMillan)
Don DeLillo - Falling Man (Picador)
Daniel Blythe - This is the Day (Allison & Busby)

I'm particularly pleased that my old mate Danny Blythe's latest novel is going to be the competition book.

And, finally, just a quick reminder that my Top Telly Tips previews can be caught, daily Monday to Friday on the Julia Hankin Show around 3:40 - ish!

Recent picks have included:
Sat 26th May:
Doctor Who - Human Nature.

Mon 28th May:
Power to the People – The Great Granny Invasion

Tues 29th May:
E-17 Reunited

Wed 30th May:
Big Brother – Live Launch
Saving Private Ryan
(difficult to know which one featured more blood and gore).

Thurs 31st May:

The Graham Norton Show

Fri 1st June:
Sea of Fire

Saturday 2nd June:
Seven Ages of Rock

Sunday 3rd June:

Mon 4th June:
Coronation Street
Peter & Dan Snow’s 20th Century Battlefields

Tues 5th June:
Let Me Entertaining You
Trinny & Susannah Undressed

Wed 6th June:
Challenge Anneka
Diana: the Witnesses in the Tunnel

Thurs 7th June:
You Can Choose Your Friends
The Million Pound Footballers Giveaway.

If you ever miss an episode, you can always catch them for 24 hours after initial broadcast on the Listen Again feature on the Radio Newcastle website. Just look up The Julia Hankin Show and I'm usually on about two hours and forty minutes into each show, and each preview usually lasted a maximum of three to five minutes.