Two Warwickshire mansions: the time capsule and the gallery

Charlecote Park and Compton Verney were both built as grand private houses, occupied by their founding families until the 20th century. They are now both open to the public, but offer contrasting visions of Britain.

Originally published on Beacon.

Continue reading “Two Warwickshire mansions: the time capsule and the gallery”

Awe-inspiring place of worship? Visit Salisbury not Stonehenge

Stonehenge’s new visitor centre is a huge improvement on what it replaced, but it remains difficult to appreciate the stone circle with a jammed-up major road just a field away. You can do better a few miles south.

First published on Beacon. Continue reading “Awe-inspiring place of worship? Visit Salisbury not Stonehenge”

Gravity’s sound man from Israel… make that Wheatley in Oxfordshire

One thing you have to love about local newspapers is the way they make things local. Niv Adiri was one of Gravity‘s Oscar winners for his work on the film’s sound. He’s originally from Israel, he works at Pinewood in Buckinghamshire, but as far as the Oxford Times is concerned he’s a Wheatley in Oxfordshire man now. Continue reading “Gravity’s sound man from Israel… make that Wheatley in Oxfordshire”

Review: Bedsit disco queen, Tracey Thorn’s creative career advice book

Tracey Thorn’s account of her years as half of the band Everything but the girl, Bedsit disco queen, has been praised as both an enjoyable, honest memoir and a fascinating journey through British music from punk to the mid-2000s. It is both, but it is also possible to read as a guide to a creative career, in this case in music. I’m going to review it as that.

Thorn started with a punk ethos of, we can do this ourselves. In 1980, her first band the Stern Bops provided a track to a compilation cassette sold for £1.50 through a couple of local record shops and an NME small ad; she recalls going to a tape copying facility in London to get more run off. The chapter is titled ‘DIY’.

Thorn and her partner Ben Watts formed the band Everything but the girl in 1982 at Hull University and continued until 2000. Despite this, she describes being a singer as “a job I wasn’t really cut out for” – she feels more comfortable writing and recording, and suffers periodically from stage fright. She uses this distance at some points of the book to assess pop music as a career option. Continue reading “Review: Bedsit disco queen, Tracey Thorn’s creative career advice book”