The Lemon Table - A Bittersweet Treat

The Lemon Table offers its audience sixty five glorious minutes of unadulterated Ian McDiarmid, probably better known for his role as Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars series. McDiarmid has selected two monologues from Julian Barnes' 2005 book of short stories ‘The Lemon Table’, both of which explore what it is to grow old. Both monologues feature an older man and at first sight, that is all they have in common but as the story unfolds other parallels and perspectives…

Review: The White Tiger – Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2008, is a work of fiction expertly penned by writer and journalist Aravind Adiga – and it is a story that pulls no punches. Best described as a rags-to-riches story, our protagonist is an Indian entrepreneur who has clambered his way to the top of the greasy pole, one smeared with corruption and bureaucracy. The narrator relates the story of Balram Halwai (his identity prior to becoming a businessman), and its…

School of Rock – In a Class of Its Own at the Alhambra, Bradford

The last time I saw a rock band grace the stage at the Alhambra in Bradford was when Def Leppard played there almost 18 years ago to the day. When No Vacancy opened the comedy musical School Of Rock in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit show, performing 'I’m Too Hot For You', it almost felt you had travelled back in time. Rock music might not be something you would associate with Andrew Lloyd Webber, but this touring adaptation of the hit film…

Poem Of The Week: 'The Beach Couldn't Be Found' By Katrina Naomi

The Beach Couldn’t Be Found Under the scorched weed and rubbish, the crows, the human shit they fed on. The water was so far out, nothing you’d swim in. Only the dogs sunbathed, their fleas popping in the heat like corn. The sea was no colour and there was no path through the broken things, flies wafting up and resettling. There could be no way through for us. The beach didn’t know it was a beach, didn’t know what was expected, that it had duties to perform. No one had…

Album Review: Coldplay – Music of the Spheres

Coldplay return with their ninth album, which appears to be loosely based around the solar system, with quite a few references to saving our planet. Some of the tracks are linked together with snippets of music that would not sound out of place whilst in a queue at Disneyland,…

Interview With Dr Ranj - Bradford’s New Panto Star

Dr Ranj is a well known TV personality as well as still being an NHS Clinician working on the frontline. He makes his Bradford pantomime debut at the Alhambra Theatre alongside Billy Pearce, playing the Royal Doctor in Sleeping Beauty. Is the pantomime in Bradford your first one to appear in? Interestingly, this is the second pantomime that I have appeared in, though there has been a massive gap in between this one in Bradford and the last one I was in,…

Review: Stone Heart Deep by Paul Bassett Davies

I’m not usually a fan of psychological thrillers in any medium but never say never, so I picked this one up and was quickly engrossed in its compelling tale. Adam Budd (oh, what literary references could an English teacher weave into that name) is an ex-military man whose experiences are only shared with the reader little by little. He is also a "burned-out investigative journalist’" with a nose for a story and the courage to do what it takes to…

Dragging The Snare: All The Men I Never Married By Kim Moore

Kim Moore’s brave and open-hearted new collection does not offer any form of resolution to the significant questions it sets itself, but rather a working through of continuing anxieties and turmoil. Her disparate use of form stresses mending at point of fracture, of bones knitting but leaving surrounding scar tissue. And we should not underestimate her skill at formal representation which is often manifested in broken lines, radical indentation and reinforcement by repetition, as though to circumscribe defiance in a…

‘Writer, Maverick, Iconoclast, Visionary’: The Young H.G Wells, Changing The World By Claire Tomalin

The desiderata of satisfying literary biography, if ignored, causes clumsy, if erudite scribes to produce turgidly pharaonic doorstops which leave the unfortunate reader more soporific than stimulated. Worse yet, impartiality on the part of the writer often spawns a jejune encomium, or a biased exercise in fustigation. Combine a vacuous biographical subject with the authorial dexterity of a will-writer, and the reader risks mild boredom, or abject stupefaction! For a literary biography to be truly scintillating, engrossing and valuable we must…

Review: A Calling For Charlie Barnes – Joshua Ferris

A Calling for Charlie Barnes is a deliciously frank and unreserved account of one man, epitomising the American dream, who, if we are blunt, appears to have achieved diddly squat. A frisbee designed to look exactly like a flying Toupee? Why, surely that must simply be the best invention never to have reached its full potential? This one example of Charlie Barnes’ business ventures best sets out why so much has failed. He has ideas, he has great vision (or so…

“Love All, Trust A Few, Do Wrong To None”: Leave The World Behind By Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind is the third novel by US author Rumaan Alam. An urban family – mother, Amanda; father, Clay; and their two children, Archie and Rose – go to stay at an idyllic holiday home in the country. The home is hyperreal in its quaintness, eliciting Little House on the Prairie vibes: “The front yard was bound by a picket fence, white, not a trace of irony in it”. But a Lynchian air of menace is present from…

Contemporary Art, With An Ancient Past: Interview With Matt Leak – Mosaics Artist

Mosaic art is one of the oldest and most impressively dextrous manifestations of mankind’s aesthetic creativity and our ideological paradigms. Its ancient roots can be traced to eighth century floor mosaics found in the city of Gordion in Asia Minor. Mosaics appeared in Greece around the sixth century BCE, flourishing and eventually garlanding opulent buildings as hugely venerated architectural ornament. The Roman empire, ever eager to consolidate its status as the acme of cultural taste, embraced this Greek tradition, mastering…

Tahiti In Leeds

Under the baton of Antony Hermus the Orchestra of Opera North has delivered an electrifying evening of Bernstein music at The Grand in Leeds. From the gloriously sad domestic drama of Trouble in Tahiti to the passion and relentless energy of the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, the orchestra is, frankly, superb. Despite its diminutive stature, Trouble in Tahiti packs a punch. Only 50 minutes long, and steeped in the world of post war suburban America, the story portrays a…

Yungblud – Blood, Sweat and Tears in Leeds

Dominic Richard Harrison has come a long way from his acting days in TV shows like Emmerdale and The Lodge. The Doncaster born artist now has a fledgling pop career as Yungblud. He has a devoted following – his fans were queuing outside the Leeds University refectory from the early hours to get inside the venue. Every generation needs an anarchist, an act that inspires you yet appears to understand the problems you might be going through in life. Addressing his fans…

Experiments In Creative Collaboration: Dovetailing Responses In Ilkley In November

Dovetailing Responses, an exhibition combining film, music and mobile sculpture with visual arts, poetry, dance, live music and an interactive soundscape, will take place at the Manor House in Ilkley from 4th to 7th November. The exhibition will seek to evolve into several resonating layers of interaction. Encouraged to take an individual path through an immersive forest-like installation by sculptor Juliet Gutch, filmmaker Clare Dearnaley and music-composer Sally Beamish, audience participants will be exposed to a unique experience replete with light,…

The Return Of Adele - Was It Worth The Wait?

If you didn’t already know after the hive of publicity this week - Adele has returned with a new single - Easy On Me. Is the hype bigger than the song? The track is a typical Adele ballad led by a piano that will fit easily into her existing back catalogue. It sounds like she has never been away on this emotive song as Easy On Me sees Adele explaining her decision to walk away from her marriage in 2019, while asking…

Album Review: Barbara Pravi - On n'enferme pas les oiseaux

Barbara Pravi's true introduction to the international stage arrived earlier this year when she proved a Bookies' favourite in the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2021. Although she may not have won the contest, instead gracefully accepting second place to the now…

Paloma Faith Is Touring

Double platinum and BRIT award-winning artist Paloma Faith will embark on a huge UK summer tour in 2022 – including a show at Halifax’s The Piece Hall. The 23-date The Age of Optimism tour will run throughout June, July and August and will see Paloma play a number of outdoor locations including cricket clubs, city squares, parks and racecourses as well as a handful of indoor venues in cities and towns she has not visited for a number of years. Talking about

Album Review: Manfred Mann - The Greatest Hits

MANFRED MANN 5-4-3-2-1 THE GREATEST HITS (DECCA RECORDS) Catalogue Number 00600753952757 Track listing 1 5-4-3-2-1 2 HUBBLE BUBBLE (TOIL AND TROUBLE) 3 DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY 4 SHA LA LA 5 COME TOMORROW 6 OH NO, NOT MY BABY 7 THE ONE IN THE MIDDLE 8 IF YOU GOTTA GO, GO NOW 9 THERE’S NO LIVING WITHOUT YOUR LOVING 10 PRETTY FLAMINGO 11 YOU GAVE ME SOMEBODY TO LOVE 12 JUST LIKE…

Now Disco Classics - Boogie Nights (Now Music)

It’s time to get your groove on with this huge selection of disco classics. With 87 floor fillers spread over 4 CD’s there is something here to suit every party playlist. ABBA start the party off with Dancing Queen, the track that somehow brings tears to many a disco lovers eyes. Who could resist the 1979 Number One from Gloria Gaynor of I Will Survive? Nile Rodgers gives us the Chic hit, I Will Survive

Award-Winning Author to Judge National Children's Writing Competition

Award-winning War Horse author Michael Morpurgo is to judge a children’s creative writing competition as part of Yorkshire Festival of Story (YFOS 21), an online event running from 12th to 28th November. Children from across the UK are challenged to write a 750-word fairy tale that features a tree or trees. Open to children aged 7-11 and in conjunction with Hull Culture & Leisure Library Service, the writing competition provides a fun and interactive way for children either at home or…

Review: Test Signal Edited By Nathan Connolly

Test Signal, co-published by Dead Ink Books and Bloomsbury, is an anthology of contemporary short stories produced by writers based in the north. The book emerged as a result of a project undertaken during the pandemic, in partnership with the organisations New Writing North and the C&W Literary Agency and was compiled after an open call for submissions revealed a wealth of literary talent based in the region. The book comprises a refreshingly diverse collection of genres, styles and literary techniques:…

'The World Of Reality Has Its Limits; The World Of Imagination Is Boundless' : Interview With Kate Lycett

As an inveterate maverick, I gravitate towards that which eschews normative convention, a trait which is especially true in respect of my aesthetic predispositions. Artistic competence can of course produce images of exquisite beauty, yet however pronounced the artist’s dexterity, without an innate stylistic singularity, such works can blend into the muddied waters of the indistinguishable, and therefore unremarkable. For me, fine art combines an almost haptic sensibility on the part of the artist for their materials, and something profoundly…

Poem Of The Week: 'That I Could' By Jane Clarke

That I could That I could take away from him these long days in the hospital, the digging for a vein in his arm, the drip that stops him sleeping, the pain that makes him whisper, Jesus Christ, oh, Jesus Christ. That I could take him back to his cobblestones and barn, his rooks in the birch trees, his nettles and ditches, limestone and bog. That I could find the words to tell him what he will always be, horse chestnut petals falling pink in the yard, the well hidden in a blackthorn thicket, a…

Cliff Richard – Still Wired For Sound In Manchester

Sir Cliff might be the only artist to have set a UK chart record by being the first to have had a top 5 album in eight consecutive decades, but whether you like him or not, it would have been hard not to be impressed with Cliff Richard at his sold out show in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall. The Great 80’s tour was meant to take place last year to celebrate his 80th birthday, now just a few days short of…

Flattening The Curve: By Degrees - David Tait

The total number of Covid deaths recorded in China as at 3rd October – 4636 - might look unrealistic at first glance. In a nation that painstakingly stage-manages its own reputation abroad, and is structurally reluctant to divulge information about its demographic and sociological patterning, robust mechanisms of state control, propaganda and censorship could easily disguise a much higher figure. But lockdowns in China would have followed the iron inflexibility of the term’s meaning with no let or margin, perhaps…

B Is For Boat: Orphans Of The Storm By Celia Imrie

A trip to Waterstones the other weekend and a browse around the ‘new fiction’ table was just the tonic, with Autumn days looming. There was plenty of choice and one of the books I selected was Orphans of the Storm, partly because it was written by Celia Imrie whom I love on screen, and partly because it was based on one of the many true stories from the Titanic. And it’s funny what you learn. Talking to my nonagenarian mother…

Interview With Chris M. L. Burleigh

Poetry, like any form of literature speaks to us through many voices, its polyphonic diversity made all the more potent by dint of its refusal to be corralled, or reductively diminished by banal literary conventions. As such, poets are seldom psychocentric, often seeking to express their idiosyncratic responses to life unfettered by prescriptivism. The quintessence of resonant, satisfyingly nuanced poetry owes more to authenticity of voice, than to intellectually finessed legerdemain, or technical bravura. If we are to harvest all…

Poem Of The Week: 'Bertram' By Nigel Forde

Bertram Helped home again and left in the dark By the cold fireplace, the foxed mirror, He leans against the mantelpiece and dribbles; Bellows at headlights that reel a slither of windows Across the ceiling-spin until the neighbours Thump another flake of plaster from the walls. The light has gone on the stairs. The sink Is larded, the scrap-bucket crawls. A bath tap drips. There is the smell of dog but the dog has gone. Another night of hurling photographs and weeping, Another slump into clammy oblivion And the taste of heartbreak.…

‘Very Few Of US Are What We Seem’: The Supper Club Murders By Victoria Dowd

The words of Agatha Christie purloined from the Queen of Crime’s, The Man in the Mist seem both apposite and minatory when considering the marvellously macabre, Gothically spiced crime novels given to us by Victoria Dowd. Wickedly amusing badinage ricocheting between the less than convivial members of our familiar mishpocha, evince Dowd’s affection for Oscar Wilde. Add to this consummate employment of tropes considered to be the desiderata of the hallowed murder mystery genre, and we begin to appreciate Dowd’s…