Mark Hewitt reviews Kill Me Quick!

kill me quick coverOver at

5.0 out of 5 starsPulp if you want it to be but deep if you think about it.

on 24 April 2016
It is quite an art to write a short book that lasts so long in the memory.
First taste is of the instant gratification of junk food but the later lingering after taste is of a very fine wine.
Paul’s books don’t have the life of them polished away like so many, they have a raw edge that allows you to connect and be absorbed into the story.’

RIP John Little

John The Other Record ShopYesterday, I found out that my friend – of about 40 years – John Little had died.

I first met John when I was a teenager, in the mid ’70s. I met him via my older brother Eric, who was a musician.

John knew pretty much every musician in the area because – as well as records- his shop sold guitar strings and the like and he organised trips to gigs for years.

At the time I met him, the shop was still called Kandy Korn – after the Captain Beefheart song.  John had bought the shop from an old hippy called Twink and so the shop retained the old name, decor and paraphernalia for a couple of years. He later changed the name to The Other Record Shop.
The shop was an exotic and mysterious place and an oasis for every rock music fan and overly serious teenager in Hartlepool. It was a kind of sanctuary from real life and John was a bit of a Gandalf figure.
I was a regular visitor, especially on Saturdays, where two or three trips to the shop in a matter of hours wasn’t unusual. John was  always interested in supporting our enthusiasm for music, even when we didn’t share the same tastes. The Enid were ‘his’ band, for sure.
the other record shopI think the line between customer and staff blurred a lot in The Other Record Shop. We always helped out in one way or the other. I worked part-time for John in the early ’80s, though I helped out off and on before and after that. People have often asked if it was like Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity and it was though I think we had a lot more laughs.
John always supportive and encouraged people to do what they want, take a chance and the like, which is maybe why I moved to London and on to Poland and am continuing my adventures, one way or another.
John’s death is sad and the end of The Other Record shop is sad too. It’s the end of an era, for sure.
john mailHere’s a nice tribute to John by Mark Payne from today’s Hartlepool Mail.
His passing was mention on the BBC6 Radcliffe and Maconie show.
And here’s a nice thing about John that Phil Dodd wrote at his blog a few years back

A Letter From Colin Wilson

Wikipedia says:

Colin Henry Wilson (26 June 1931 – 5 December 2013) was an English writer, philosopher and novelist. He also wrote widely ontrue crime, mysticism and the paranormal.[2] Wilson called his philosophy “new existentialism” or “phenomenological existentialism”,[3] and maintained his life work was “that of a philosopher, and (his) purpose to create a new and optimistic existentialism”.

And back in the ’80s and ’90s, I read a lot of Colin Wilson‘s books, mostly his novels and mostly via Hartlepool Public Library.  He even wrote a crime book- The Killer- that was partly set in Hartlepool. There was a lot that I liked about him and his books.

Along the way, I discovered he’d written a book called The Book Of Booze. And for some reason, I wrote to him about it. And for some reason, he replied.

I didn’t have the letter for years and thought I’d lost it on my travels but it recently turned up in a pile of old photos.

So, here it is!20151013_132737



Brit Grit Films: Wild Bill, Sightseers, The Angels’ Share, Harrigan, Redemption.

I take a quick gander at a few Brit Grit films that I’ve seen of late. Wild Bill Former tough guy Bill returns home to his dreary  flat in a London tower block, after 11 years in the nick, only to find out that his wife has done a runner to Spain, leaving their two young sons to fend for themselves. Writer Danny King, director Dexter Fletcher and a collection of great performances turn what could have been merely grim social realism into a splendid, funny and moving film. Highly recommended.

Sightseers. Painfully dreary Chris and Tina head off on a caravanning trip around the UK. Things quickly turn gruesome, however. Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers is a particularly nasty black comedy that comes across like Mike Leigh mixed with Eli Roth. I loved it.

The Angels’ Share. Ken Loach’s film career peaked with Kes and he hasn’t come anywhere near it since then, a lot of his films being about as cinematic as a Health and Safety film. Still, when he tells a decent yarn his films can be involving. The Angels’ Share is the story a group of dispossessed youths who find inspiration after a trip to a whisky distillery… This is a funny and touching film that is reminiscent of a children’s fable.

Harrigan Set in the early ‘70s, during the miners’ strikes and power cuts, Harrigan is a kind of urban western. It’s the story of a tough cop, close to retirement, who returns to the north east of England to clean up a crime riddled estate. Uneven and at times OTT, Harrigan is enjoyable enough, with some fine performances and a strong atmosphere. Ultimately, it tries too hard and would probably have been better served as a TV series. Some of it was filmed in my home town of  Hartlepool.

Redemption. Redemption AKA Hummingbird is an ill-fitting mish-mash of social drama and action movie with a chilly performance from Agata Buzek as a nun that helps out a homeless man who is in fact ex- special forces on the run from a court martial.  Jason Statham is great, of course, but like in the TV series Kung Fu you’re just waiting for the philosophical cobblers to end and for him to kick some botty. Which he does with great aplomb! Tasty cinematography from Chris Menges add to making Redemption an enjoyable if gauche film.

This post first appeared at Out Of The Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley.