Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

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Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

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He was often moved to tears in his narration when reflecting and retelling certain special moments and I too wept as I listened .

It was easy to imagine how Bragg must have felt at the sight of them, the feeling of something close to love reaching him as he emerged into the daylight. I didn’t want the story to end and felt the emotion as the narrator said a farewell (but not a final goodbye) to Wigton.None of them had felt able to attend the service – wrong church – but here they all were now, an unlikely guard of honour.

Then chapters on playing football in the park (Kensington Gardens for us), holidays at home, books (Biggles, Jennings and Just William. What a memory Bragg has for names and faces; he can describe the new furniture in his parents’ living room as if it were all still there, waiting to be dusted by his indefatigable mum. The first thing to say is that this memoir is keenly drawn, but it is not restricted to a cinematic re-telling. Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cape Verde Islands, Cayman Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, European Union, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Finland, France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gabon Republic, Gambia, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mexico, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Niue, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Republic of Croatia, Republic of the Congo, Reunion, Romania, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Swaziland, Sweden, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Vatican City State, Venezuela, Virgin Islands (U.I also went to a grammar school in the industrial north of England and from there was able to earn a place at Oxford (but no scholarship for me) taking me to an experience and subsequent life beyond anything my parents ever had the opportunity to enjoy themselves. The first 200 pages are an impressionistic jumble of memories and feelings from early childhood; the second (the two are divided by a serious mental and physical breakdown that seems to come out of nowhere at the age of fourteen) show him developing a love of learning, literature and hard intellectual labour that would underpin his later professional life.

It's an affecting and evocative account of his working-class upbringing in the small Cumbrian market town of Wigton and a vivid Cider With Rosie-style portrait of a particular place and time. At times I was reminded of John McGahern's "Memoir", another great book that pays heartfelt tribute to a cherished mother.

In other hands this tale would easily be the stuff of cliché, except that Bragg fills every memory and anecdote with both meaning and feeling . Bragg's book, the best thing he's ever written, imbues the overused literary adjective "piercing" with real meaning . But no Enid Blyton for us), The Goon Show on the radio (we listened to The Navy Lark, Educating Archie and Hoirney into Space, but these were a little later).

Our team is made up of book lovers who are dedicated to sourcing and providing the best books for kids. Registered office address: Unit 34 Vulcan House Business Centre, Vulcan Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE5 3EF. One of the generation of working- and lower middle-class children for whom a post-war grammar school education was the key to unlocking a future far beyond what their parents and grandparents had ever been able to aspire to, his impact on the cultural life of the UK from the Sixties until now has been immeasurable. Derailed by a severe breakdown when he was 13, he developed a passion for reading and study - though that didn't stop him playing in a skiffle band or falling in love.However, I feel we were better nourished mentally without the pressures that youngsters have today from social media and societal expectation. Some of his early television work was in collaboration with Ken Russell, for whom he wrote the biographical dramas The Debussy Film (1965) and Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), as well as Russell's film about Tchaikovsky, The Music Lovers (1970).



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