Tiny Moments #216

The air is still filled with chill, but the sun is tricking some into believing that warmer days are coming. In the Lower Comberoy copse I spy the first blanket of Bluebells, whilst over the Killerton Clump floats the first hot air balloon flight of the season. It advertises Bath Gin, another hopeful cipher for a brighter future.

Tiny Moments #215

Up out of Tipton St John on the way to Sidmouth, just past the sign advertising fish and chips at the Golden Lion, the road kicks up to a 13%. I flip down the gears and pass a woman pushing an old Dawes ladies tourer, attached to which is a trailer carrying what looks like a Christmas tree. We wheeze a brief ‘hello’ to each other as I ride past, each bent to our task. At the top of the hill the landscape opens out and the road passes between two fields, each filled with Donkeys enjoying the sunshine. I think of my dad and how much he would have loved to see this.

In Sidmouth a couple of girls splash into the sea wearing summer bathing costumes. I sit on my bicycle on the prom, still dressed in winter cycling kit. I am not warm.

In the ’70s

A quick search in my reading list archive tells me that I have read forty two George Bellairs novels in the past three years, and whilst most of them have been at the very least highly enjoyable, the latest on that list (‘Murder Adrift’ and ‘Devious Murder’, originally published in 1972 and 1973 respectively) have sadly been amongst the weakest. Written towards the end of a highly productive career, neither of these titles seem to go much of anywhere other than to idle around somewhat sedate plot lines. It’s a great shame, because when Bellairs is at his best he is a tremendously engaging writer. For what it’s worth, my favourites amongst those forty plus books featuring series detective Inspector Littlejohn are without doubt those set on the Isle of Man. Bellairs settled there after life as a bank manager, and his island novels really are thinly disguised love letters to the landscape. The crimes and the detection are almost secondary to the sense of place and local character, his fondness for the island and the people coming through with warmth and astutely observed detail. By the time of these 1970s novels, though, the places the tales are set in seem nondescript and the characters bland. If we were being kind perhaps we could say that’s just a reflection of the times, but they are certainly not books that I would recommend as starting points for exploring Bellairs’ work.

Also from the 1970s come a series of books by Anne Morice, newly republished by those fine folks at Dean Street Press, featuring serial character of jobbing actor Tessa Crichton and with cover imagery seemingly beamed direct from ‘sophisticated’ TV dramas of the period. Now our previous visit to the reissue action of the DSP had us enjoying four detective stories by Cecil Waye and rather wishing that the most interesting character (the terrific Vivienne) had not been married off and written out after the first. I’m delighted to say that Morice trips on only one of these hazards, and it’s hardly a spoiler to say that the charming young man that Crichton spots in the pub early in ‘Death In The Grand Manor’ has by the time of the next novel become her husband. Indeed, the title of that second instalment in the series, ‘Murder In Married Life’ rather gives the game away. As a Scotland Yard Inspector (I have not read further in the series, but I imagine that he Rises Through The Ranks and becomes at least a Chief Inspector) he is perfectly positioned to supply Tessa with juicy problems to which she may lend her charms.

Now let me say straight away that I am not a fan of the fashion for describing certain detective novels from any age as ‘cosy’. I understand the marketing strategies behind such a move, but it feels lazy, and reflects a thoroughly inaccurate reading (or wilful reframing) of older texts. With this in mind then, let me stress that Anne Morice’s novels are not ‘cosy’, but they are certainly hugely entertaining and witty. A contemporary review by Edmund Crispin describes the first Tessa Crichton book ‘Death In The Grand Manor’ as a “charming whodunit….full of unforced buoyancy”, going on to suggest it as a “remedy for existentialist gloom.” Let us not forget that Crispin himself was certainly prone to bouts of existential gloom, but that he also penned some marvellously entertaining detective stories featuring the tremendous character of Gervaise Fen. One wonders too if his frankly bonkers (in a good way) swansong ‘Glimpses of the Moon’ (published in 1977) was not at least in part inspired by the kinds of words Morice was penning for Tessa Crichton. Frances Iles is typically more restrained, suggesting that ‘Death…’ is “a most attractive lightweight”. If that feels somewhat close to being damned by faint praise, then it likely says more about Iles than it does about Morice.

Of course one is unlikely to be reading detective fiction from the 1970s for much more than entertainment value, and that is fine. Indeed it is one of its primary attractions. But Morice has a charming manner of cloaking quite barbed quips in comfortable attire. On marriage she has Tessa note that “One of the few snags I had encountered in married life was the obligation to account to one other person for one’s behaviour; and this was never more acute than in cases where the behaviour was unlikely to obtain the other person’s blessing and approval”, whilst at another point Crichton refers to a piece of sci-fi theatre with a description that feels uncomfortably prescient: “It was set in the year two thousand and something and the author’s comforting idea was that by then the computers would have taken charge of just about everything, from foreign policy down to bingo, with the result that Man had lost the power of self expression and was reduced to conversing in grunts and loosely connected monosyllables.” A more accurate description of Social Media interactions I have yet to read.

Then there is this uncomfortably amusing blast that reminds us how the BREXIT spirit of the 21st Century England ‘Daily Mail’ reader is nothing new: “there was nothing of the Dresden china about this particular little old lady. She was more of a retired Boadicea waging an implacable armchair-war against, predictably enough, immigrants, civil servants, motorists, pedestrians, abstract art, pop music and central heating.” Perhaps Morice had just seen Thatcher on the television.

Elsewhere she drops some delicious little meta droplets of knowing reference, with one character telling Tessa “for God’s sake don’t get the idea that you’re Miss Marple, and start asking all and sundry what they were doing between four and six o’clock, on Saturday, 3rd August.” before dropping the marvellous “‘I’ve lost the thread again,’ Toby said, appealing to Robin. ‘Have you any idea what this is all about?’ ‘Not a glimmer.’”

Losing the thread or not (and sometimes that is part of the pleasure), I admit that I have enjoyed these first two Anne Morice novels more than enough to explore further. And with eight more titles available in this current reissue flourish and a further ten due in July, there is certainly plenty in which to indulge.

Love Story

LOVE STORY

Alistair Fitchett on ‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’ by Tracey Thorn.

Tracey Thorn has been on something of a creative roll in recent years, with a steady flow of books, newspaper/magazine columns, and (let’s not forget) a tremendous solo record in 2018’s, erm, ‘Record’. To someone of my age, who thrilled to the brittle charm of The Marine Girls, fell head over heels for the sparse yearning of ‘A Distant Shore’ and then settled into decades of ever-shifting, (nearly) always rewarding records with Everything But The Girl, it has felt like a positive flurry of pleasure. The world may have been going to hell in a handcart, but there’s always been something new from Tracey Thorn to pull us through. Okay, that’s maybe caffeinated hyperbole, but I swear down that on a level it is on the level. And now she’s written a book about everyone’s favourite Go-Between. Stop the world right here. We’ve reached the moment of perfection.

That’s bullshit, of course, because the world is still going to hell in that same old handcart and it’s got some dodgy wheels to boot, so what the… and did you know that everyone’s favourite Go-Between was Lindy Morrison? Certainly everyone I speak to recently is saying as much. And it might be true. It might be that Tracey Thorn’s gloriously celebratory and incandescently incendiary book about her friendship with Morrison has made everyone feel safe and secure about voicing that opinion. It’s like a ‘me too’ moment for Go-Betweens fans. It’s funny though, because almost everyone who I hear saying it is a man, and was probably at some point in their lives a journalist or a university student in Germany*.

Me? My favourite Go-Between is still Robert (Forster). Or maybe it’s that other Robert (Vickers) because frankly how can someone look so young for so long? We need to see the painting in the attic. Other days of course my favourite Go-Between is Amanda, and on others still it is Grant. But ah yes, of course my favourite Go-Between is Lindy. Has always been Lindy. Except when it hasn’t.

That’s a fucking clumsy way of saying the bloody obvious and that is that Life Is Complicated. And ever shifting. Marvellously, excruciatingly so. Thorn gets this of course, and so does Morrison. It’s just that Thorn also knows that if she’s going to write a book about Morrison (who, if she’s know at all is known as The Drummer In A Rock Band Than Never Sold Any Records Except To Three University Students In Germany**) she knows it needs to be something bigger and smaller than that. It needs to be a love story. And so it is.

So ‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’ is in essence a love story between two women. But it is also by necessity a love story between women and men; between women and music; between men and music; between people and life. It’s also a story of the love (and hate) between writers and performers (we’ll maybe get into that particular can of worms later). Between performers and their audiences. Even if that audience is only three University students in Germany.***

It is also by necessity a story of pain, mistrust, anger, despair and betrayal. Speaking of which, Forster and Mclennan are in this book too. Of course they are. It’s just that they come across more as a couple of dicks than they do in any other story written about The Go-Betweens. It’s not wholly negative press (Thorn is too canny for that, and anyway, there’s the impression that behind the righteous indignation she still likes the odd Go-Betweens number) but it does throw the accepted worldview upside down rather, and that is fine. Others, Forster included, have written their versions of their stories and we are free to read them. That’s the way our world works, for better or for worse. Multiple narratives weave around us and we pluck the ones we fancy and fuck the ones we don’t. Or vice versa. And sometimes our perspectives on the ones we fancy switch around. So it always was and forever will be.

But ugh, hold up there a minute, because this notion of ‘so it always was and forever will be’ is also the crux of ‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’. It’s a critical hinge point because Thorn recognises it as an essentially patriarchal one, rusty and greased with putrid excrement. So whilst the book is about Lindy Morrison and her life in and around the Go-Betweens, it is also an indignant assault on the macho male industrial machine. Punches are thrown and at times it’s uncomfortable reading (my own refusal to re-read anything I may have written about the Go-Betweens in the past few decades is one minor example of this discomfort). Thorn makes good points forcibly, which is how it should be. (An editor might now suggest altering my line to something like ‘so it always was but need not forever be’, but frankly that sounds a bit wanky and ugh, we’re really not that optimistic are we?)

So if Thorn essentially edits the issues around Morrison’s erasure from the Go-Betweens myth down to one of gender, then that is fine too. It’s an accurate point to be making, and frankly one would have to be blind and stupid not to recognise that. There is another point, however, that Thorn also almost makes, which is around the Rock world’s infatuation with the writer over the performer. Thorn does brush up against this when she refers to the idea that THE DRUMMER IS THE BAND, whilst elsewhere pondering the fact that almost all rock journalists immerse themselves in the lyrics of the songs at the expense of the playing. As a non-musician with an interest in words I can’t help but understand this approach (I’m resisting the urge to write the word ‘sympathise’ because frankly I’m too busy holding my hands up, pleading guilty as charged, it’s a fair cop guv etc.) but when you stop and think about it, it is a bit weird. But there it is. Maybe we really can blame Dylan and the Beatles and The Stones and the Swingeing Sixties for everything. And maybe if Morrison had been a drummer in a Jazz trio, or in a chamber orchestra (do they even have drummers in orchestras, or is that ‘percussion’? See, I told you I was no musician) then she’d have been written about differently. Maybe not.

There is much more to ‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’ than rock’n’roll, friendship and feminism of course, but the coffee is cold, it’s getting dark and there are Other Things to think about. Tracey Thorn and Lindy Morrison might be thinking about them too, whatever they are. They’ll be writing and living, loving and dreaming. And the loves and the dreams will by turns be angry, compassionate, frustrated and celebratory because like we said, Life Is Complicated, and we make our sense of it by telling our stories. ‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’ is Tracey Thorn’s.

And it’s brilliant.

*You probably don’t need to read the book to get the gist of the joke, but read the book anyway to get the joke. It’s funny because it’s true.
** It’s not my joke, so don’t blame me if you don’t get it or if you do get it but don’t find it funny.
*** It’s still funny.

‘My Rock’n’Roll Friend’ is published by Canongate.

This article may also be available on the International Times website.

Tiny Moments #211

A fine coating of Saharan dust speckles the cars and vans that pass and sit idly in their driveways. Outside Feniton station a teenager stands in short shorts and a cropped top, determined to exploit the sunshine at all costs. The cost must surely be exposure, for as the biting North Easterly whips into me I for one am thankful for merino gloves and skull cap.

Unpop 201

Anticipating rain… Download disc 1

The Sexual Loneliness Of Jesus Christ – Jackie Leven (from ‘Straight Outta Caledonia‘ LP)
I’m More Inclined – Teenage Fanclub (from ‘Endless Arcade‘ LP)
Decibels and Little Pills – Mark Eitzel (from ‘The Eitzel Ordeal – Konk Sessions‘ LP)
With Tomorrow – Gene Clark (YouTube)
Do I Ever Cross Your Mind – Dawn Landes and Justin Townes Earle (digital single)
Anything Could Happen – The Clean (available on ‘Compilation‘ LP)
Spray Paint The Bridge – Nightshift (from ‘Zoe‘ LP)
Can’t Keep My Mind Off You – The Loft (from ‘Ghost Trains and Country Lanes‘ LP)
Morning Light – Beachwood Sparks (from ‘Beachwood Deluxe‘ LP)
Knew That I’d Want You – Painted Hills (from ‘Painted Hills‘ LP)
I Can Take You To The Sun – The Misunderstood (available on ‘The Complete recordings‘ LP)
Same Way From The Sun – Mighty Baby (YouTube)
Dusk – Genesis (YouTube)
Once Good – The Death Of Pop (from ‘Seconds‘ LP)
Second Time (feat. Mary Wyer) – Red Sleeping Beauty (digital single)
Bullet Train – Leaf Mosaic (digital single)
Former Life – The Lodger (from ‘Cul-de-sac Of Love‘ LP)
The Music Next Door – The Lucksmiths (from ‘Warmer Corners‘ LP)
Cath – The Muldoons (digital single)
Will She Always Be Waiting – The Bluebells (from ‘Sisters‘ LP)

Will you become the saint you want to be? – Download Disc 2

Kebabylon – Arab Strap (from ‘As Days Get Dark‘ LP)
Owl In The Parlour – Cathal Coughlan (from ‘Songs of Co-Aklan‘ LP)
Warping in the Sun – Kane Strang (from ‘Happy to Perform‘ LP)
Another Year – epic45 & Babybird (digital single)
Ecovocative – Hannah Peel (from ‘Fir Wave‘ LP)
Nervous – Penelope Trappes (from ‘Penelope Three‘ LP)
Down The Line – Rachel Love (digital single)
10 James Orr Street – Strawberry Switchblade (YouTube)
14 At 41 – Frida Hyvönen (from ‘Dream of Independence‘ LP)
With Tomorrow – This Mortal Coil
Glory – Gazelle Twin & NYX (from ‘Deep England‘ LP)
As the light returns, we radiate colours – Trace Imprint (from ‘Golitha Falls‘ LP)
Daguerreotype – Clara Engel and Bradley Sean Alexander (from ‘Ghost Bird‘ LP)
Natsukashii – Kyūka (digital single)
Adventurer Star – The Attendant (from lathe cut and digital single)
Eat Shard, Become Shard (for Eric Drass) – mærcstapa (from ‘Saint Ninian, Across‘ EP)
Jones Carousel – The Twelve Hour Foundation (from ‘Six Twenty Negative‘ LP)
The 52 Loop – Dohnavùr (from ‘Pristine Environments‘ LP)

Stream the full playlist on Mixcloud

Stream a partial playlist on Spotify

Unpop 200

I feel glassy now… Download disc 1

Rydalwater – Modern Nature (7″ single)
Too early to say when … – Alula Down (from ‘Postcards from Godley Moor, Winter 2020/1‘)
Misty Bridges (Statues In Fog Mix) – The Declining Winter (from ‘Drifts and Flurries‘ compilation)
Be Dear Part 1 – Sue Tompkins and Luke Fowler (not available on TikTok)
Power Cut – Nightshift (from ‘Zöe‘ LP)
Sad Talk, Happy Talk – Jilk (from ‘Welcome Lies‘ LP)
Frozen River – Clara Engel & Bradley Sean Alexander (from ‘All Creatures‘ compilation)
Your Dreams (Single Version) – Sarah Louise (from ‘Earth Bow‘ LP)
South Foreland – Oliver Jackson (from ‘South Foreland‘ EP)
Welcome Home (Single Edit) – The Rowan Amber Mill (digital single)
The Big House – Peter Rogers (from ‘Witness Marks‘ EP)
Thursday – Darren Hayman (from ‘Music To Watch News By‘ LP)
Rad Brad Ivy – Lomond Campbell (from ‘LŪP‘ LP)
Emergence In Nature – Hannah Peel (digital single)
Invocation – Cabaret Voltaire (available on ‘Do You Have The Force? (Jon Savage’s Alternate History Of Electronica 1978-82)‘ LP)
Flutter – Autechre (from ‘Anti’ EP)

Download disc 2

It’s Already Tomorrow – Ski Saigon (from ‘Sees The Albatross‘ LP)
Monolith – The Chills (from ‘Scatterbrain‘ LP)
Primrose Hill – Rachel Love (digital single)
Big City Guy – Mary Saxton (YouTube)
Maybe I Know – Lesley Gore (YouTube)
A Garden by the Sea – Beautify Junkyards (from ‘Cosmorama’ LP)
Make It Rain – Aloa Input (digital single)
Insect Valley – Jowe Head (from ‘Strawberry Birthmarks‘ LP reissue)
INDIES OF THE WORLD – SWANSEA SOUND (various physical formats and digital single. Also YouTube)
Girls Just Wanna Dance – Modesty Blaise (YouTube)
The Enrico Song – Deaf School (from ‘Parigi My Dear‘ LP)
Deeper Than Sin – Blue Orchids (from ‘Speed The Day‘ LP)
Five Aces – Arrest! Charlie Tipper (7″ and digital single)
Dual Lives – The Lodger (from ‘Cul-de-sac Of Love‘ LP)
Lovely Things – The Muldoons (from ‘Made For Each Other‘ LP)
The Biggest Movie Ever Made – Tangled Shoelaces (from ‘Turn My Dial – M Squared Recordings and more 1981-84′ LP)
Mirrorball – The Catenary Wires (7″ and digital single)
Green (Mean Time) – Corvair (from ‘Corvair’ LP)
Soul Kiss II – Rat Columns (from ‘Pacific Kiss‘ LP)
New Schools – The Sea And Cake (from ‘Car Alarm‘ LP)
No Pressure – Field Music (from ‘Flat White Moon‘ LP)
Stand & Deliver – Farmer Dave & The Wizards Of The West (from
‘Farmer Dave & The Wizards Of The West’ LP)

Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

Did you watch the ‘Blitz Spirit’ show on the BBC earlier this week? It is not the sort of thing I would have watched normally but admit I was intrigued due to having recently read ‘A Chelsea Concerto’. For those in the dark, ‘A Chelsea Concerto’ is a memoir of the London Blitz by artist and author Frances Faviell, and it was used as one of the ‘voices’ in Lucy Worsley’s BBC show. Now I understand that some people have difficulty with Lucy Worsley but in these times it seems like everyone has difficulties with someone and with numerous platforms from which to express themselves it all gets rather tedious (yes, this sentence is heavy in irony). Heaven help future historians attempting to make any sense of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries, picking through the innumerable source streams in attempts to piece together some sort of objective truth. Perhaps by then all notions of objective truth will be laughably archaic in themselves, and digital decay will mean that the problem will be a dearth of evidence rather than a glut, but who knows what the future holds? Perhaps they, like us looking back at The Blitz, will discover a fragment of unused propaganda and mutate it into a contemporary myth. Stranger things have happened.

So full disclosure: I like Lucy Worsley. She does the difficult job of condensing complex historical webs into something accessible and entertaining very successfully. Not being a History scholar I’m not best positioned to make a judgement on this, but I suspect this question of Information As Entertainment is something that all Historians struggle with, both in terms of trusting sources and making their own work. Does Worsley herself battle with the demons that say when to twist objective facts into subjective ones? I expect she must. Certainly she does this in ‘Blitz Spirit’ with the suggestion that Faviell and her husband Richard are already married when the Blitz begins. In ‘Chelsea Concerto’ it is clear this is not the case, and indeed the marriage (Faviell’s second) takes place in the midst of the bombing. It’s a tiny detail, and one I completely understand Worlsey making in order to make the script tighter, but still, it does make one wonder about what other details may have been flexed in order to fit the preferred narrative. The suspicion is that there may be many, but that’s part of the  deal. The action of editing is an integral part of how we tell and record stories after all, which in turn is how we shape and understand History. Indeed, that’s a big part of what Worsley tells us in the show. She makes this explicit in exploding the modern myth about the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster, and in unpacking the untruths within the famous photograph of the milkman in the rubble, but it’s also implicit in the texts she accesses in order to move her narrative along. ‘A Chelsea Concerto’ itself is a memoir written after the fact. Published in 1959 it was Faviell’s final book before her early death from cancer and one can only assume she used a modicum of artistic license in its creation. It’s not a work of fiction of course, but it is well structured and finely nuanced. It will have been revised and tweaked in various drafts, pulled apart and pieced together again. That’s how most good writers work, after all.

Faviell’s attention to detail is one of her strengths, and her artists’ eye picks out the visual beauty in the often brutal environment. I particularly like her description of the barrage balloons in the phoney war “going up slowly and awkwardly like drunken fish”. She makes reference to other contemporary artists in the book too, notably Elliot Hodgkin who survived the war and and former Bright Young Thing Rex Whistler who did not. Elsewhere she suggests that the war torn skies are as something from Blake, or, in a description of the sky over The City during the infamous December 29th 1940 raid as being  “awful – although beautiful, a brilliant blood-red – the kind of sky in which Turner would have delighted.” Worsley picks up this line too, although sadly neglects the Turner reference, before going on to analyse the famous photograph of St Pauls. She shows how the image is edited to omit the broken buildings in the foreground, another example of how what we choose to leave out says as much, if not more, that what we choose to include.

Now I’ve never been much of a one for drawing parallels between The Blitz and the COVID pandemic. It has always seemed to me that the difference in context is just too immense, so that any similarities are at best coincidental and ultimately demeaning to those involved in both eras. I suspect Worsley feels much the same, although with the timing of ‘Blitz Spirit’ in celebrating the 80th anniversary falling as it does, the programme cannot help but suggest that experiences of communal support and togetherness (as well as division, anger and frustration) may be similar. Faviell perceptively notes that “when a thing has to be endured continuously it becomes an accepted everyday fact, whereas when there are gaps it reappears with redoubled horror.” Or, at least in the case of the pandemic, repeated surge waves of infection lead to redoubled frustration and anger with Government, perhaps.

Another thing that Worsley makes clear in ‘Blitz Spirit’ which I suspect may not go down too well with traditionalists wedded to the modern myth of ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is the notion that The Blitz Spirit was one dimensional in its unyielding positivity. Worsley is hardly being revisionist in suggesting that the reality was much more complex and nuanced, but I dare say there will be those who will revile her for daring to suggest that there may have been cracks in the armour of Public Spirit. Even Faviell, who throughout the majority of ‘A Chelsea Concerto’ is fundamentally positive and full of  what has become the stereotype of Blitz Spirit, occasionally descends into bouts of despair and doubt. It’s only natural.

Looking back from 80 years in the future, one of the things that feels most poignant is how Faviell reports on the attitudes of many Londoners to anyone not falling into some blinkered classification of ‘English’.  She suggests that “many of the people [had] complained at having foreigners in the shelter” whilst “the host of foreigners, many of whom had lived all their lives in Britain, now found themselves regarded as ‘aliens’, and treated with wary guardedness by those who had known them all their lives.”

Faviell, herself well travelled and educated, proved herself of tremendous value to a community of Flemish refugees, and her tales of these characters are amongst the most entertaining and touching in the book. Yet as she points out, “language is no barrier to friendship, nor is knowledge of other countries necessary in helping foreigners.” Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

‘A Chelsea Concerto’ is certainly a tremendous page-turner, by turns exceptionally harrowing and touchingly perceptive and poetic. Reading it now, some 80 years on from the events Faviell recounts, we may sometimes be tempted to slip into the comfortable pleasure of Knowing How It Ends even before we reach the final chapters, but even here there are deep caverns to navigate, each one eloquently picked out in powerfully spare prose.

One of the must brutal aspects of the work that Faviell volunteered for must surely have been the assemblage of assorted body parts and flesh into something resembling a complete body for burial. Typically, Faviell refuses to shy away from describing the process in a way that manages to convey the necessary emotional detachment and a sensitivity that is palpable. Intriguingly, she also tells us that “this task dispelled for me the idea that human life is valuable – it could be blown to pieces by blast – just as dust was blown by wind.” That’s an enormously powerful admission to make, perhaps particularly for a nurse (volunteer or not). It’s also perhaps a particularly late 20th Century response, anticipating the growing existential crisis building through the 1950s into the ’60s and beyond.

It is clear, however, that even if for Faviell the value of human life had been exposed as an illusion, there remains still a deeply experienced emotional response. “The feeling uppermost in my mind after every big raid was anger” she says. “Anger at the lengths to which humans could go to inflict injury on one another.” Everything changes. Everything stays the same.

‘A Chelsea Concerto’ is published by Dean Street Press and Furrowed Middlebrow
‘Blitz Spirit’ is available on BBC iPlayer: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000sm7s