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Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
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Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
A thread to discuss...

Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky by Patrick Hamilton

Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky

Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky is a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels by Patrick Hamilton.

The three books are

The Midnight Bell (1929),

The Siege of Pleasure (1932),

and

The Plains of Cement (1934).

They focus on three of the people who populate The Midnight Bell pub in London; the stories interconnect.

The Midnight Bell tells the story of Bob, a sailor turned bar waiter who falls in love with Jenny, a prostitute who visits the pub. Ella, the barmaid at the pub, is secretly in love with Bob. Eventually, Jenny loses interest once Bob has spent all his savings on her.

The Siege of Pleasure relates Jenny's early life as a servant, and her descent into prostitution. Bob and Ella do not feature at all in this novel.

The Plains of Cement focuses on Ella, and is set during the events in The Midnight Bell, although from a different perspective. Ella, still nursing an untold affection for Bob, has to deal with the increasingly unwelcome advances of Ernest Eccles, an elderly customer of the pub. The narrative concludes one day after the final scene of The Midnight Bell.

The first book in particular contains autobiographical elements - Patrick Hamilton worked in London pubs before becoming a successful writer, was infatuated with a prostitute at that time, and eventually died of liver failure caused by alcoholism. The books are also notable for their portrayal of working class London in the inter-war period.


Looking forward to your thoughts, comments and queries.


message 2: by Val (last edited Apr 02, 2013 08:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val This trilogy next then. I will check the library catalogue.


PS The library catalogue has a few copies of this one available within the county, but since several of the nine books I already have reserved are on their way to me, I will wait a month or two before ordering more.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I've just ordered a secondhand copy of the book from Amazon for £0.01 + £2.80 post and packaging. I'm not sure when I'll be able to read it though. Hopefully sometime during April.

I own a DVD of the BBC adaptation which I picked up secondhand and very cheaply. If you enjoy the book then I'd say the TV adaptation - three one hour episodes (one per book) is well worth watching. I'm wondering how I'll get on with the book having seen the adaptation - I prefer to read a story before watching a screen adaptation.


message 4: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val I picked up my library copy today and will let you know what I think of it.


David | 821 comments Unusually, I saw the BBC 4 adaptation before I read the trilogy and even more unusually found the onscreen adaptation to be worthy of the books. This did colour my imagination of the characters in the printed version though, but this probably had much to do with the casting of the delicious Zoe Tapper in the Jenny role. Enjoy reading them.


message 6: by Nigeyb (last edited Apr 19, 2013 03:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
David wrote: "Unusually, I saw the BBC 4 adaptation before I read the trilogy and even more unusually found the onscreen adaptation to be worthy of the books."

That's reassuring - and encouraging. My copy has arrived and I am looking forward to it even more now. I have a few titles lined up before it, so not sure when I'll be tucking into it.

David wrote: "This (the BBC 4 adaptation) did colour my imagination of the characters in the printed version though, but this probably had much to do with the casting of the delicious Zoe Tapper in the Jenny role. Enjoy reading them. "

Yes, a great cast - and an atmospheric, well acted adaptation.

David wrote: "Enjoy reading them. "

Patrick's never let me down yet (though I've not read "Impromptu in Moribundia")


message 7: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val I can visualise the pub and I haven't seen the TV adaption. "The Midnight Bell" has a more welcoming atmosphere than "The Rosamund Tearooms", but it still has some irritating characters in it.
Hamilton manages to add his little lighter touches, like the funny aside about people pulling the door which says 'push'. (Come on now, we've all done it at least once!)


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Val wrote: "I can visualise the pub and I haven't seen the TV adaption. "The Midnight Bell" has a more welcoming atmosphere than "The Rosamund Tearooms", but it still has some irritating characters in it."

To say the least Val. At least in "The Midnight Bell" there's an atmosphere and conversation, and people feeling reasonably good about being there. A stark contrast to the frankly appalling "Rosamund Tearooms".

Val wrote: "Hamilton manages to add his little lighter touches, like the funny aside about people pulling the door which says 'push'. (Come on now, we've all done it at least once!) "

More than once!


message 9: by Val (new) - rated it 5 stars

Val Nicely done Patrick!
This is another five stars.
http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Val. Off to read your review now.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
I love your concluding comment Val...

Patrick Hamilton portrays his London pub-dominated world with love and care. He shows us that drinking too much and becoming obsessed with prostitutes is not a very good idea, but also shows the euphoria of the moment. He knows, he did both.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Just came across this interesting review of The Midnight Bell. The first book of the Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky trilogy:

Unhappy hour

Patrick Hamilton's novel The Midnight Bell contains a comic self-portrait of a man hopelessly addicted to whisky and a girl. Next week marks the author's centenary

by Dan Rhodes
The Guardian, Saturday 13 March 2004



The magnificent fourth novel, by Patrick Hamilton, The Midnight Bell (1929), opens with the worst literary device in the world - a dream sequence. Bob, barman of the eponymous pub, is asleep in the afternoon and dreaming that he's leaving the coast of Spain aboard a ship embarking on a momentous voyage.

Fortunately it's only a couple of paragraphs before he jolts awake to find that the swishing of the water is no more than his own breath, and the thundering wind is nothing but the rumble of traffic from the nearby Euston Road. He is fully clothed and feeling wretched, and it's here that the novel really begins: "Then he cursed himself, softly and vindictively. He faced facts. He had got drunk at lunch again." Poor Bob is to spend much of the next 200 pages charging around London in various states of alcohol-fuelled degradation, and from this point on Hamilton's fiction would rarely venture more than a few pages away from the pub.

Boozing is the defining feature of Hamilton's life and work. Most writers enjoy the occasional tipple, and I certainly like to fancy myself as something of a semi-professional dipsomaniac, but he puts all but the most dedicated of us to shame. His brother Bruce calculated that in the 1940s, Hamilton would drink his way through three bottles of black market whisky a day, costing about £2,000 a year - enough to buy a fancy house.

Inevitably, such heroic drinking was to be his downfall - in his final years his writing became increasingly lifeless and his innards finally packed up for good in his late 50s. But, for more than two decades, he wrote some of the best fiction, and far and away the best pub fiction, I've come across.

I've spent far too many hours of my life idiotically scouring the streets of London in search of the real Midnight Bell, as if it's possible to find a make-believe pub from more than 70 years ago. The Prince of Wales Feathers on Warren Street, a known haunt of Hamilton's, is as geographically close as you're likely to get, but with its fruit machine, malevolent talking billboard in the gents and special offers on selected spirits, it's hard to make the leap - sadly it's better just to stay at home, pour yourself an octuple whisky and read the book.

The novel's portrait of a London pub, its staff and its patrons in the 1920s is wonderfully rich, and captures the strangeness of life on both sides of the bar. Among the regulars are the appallingly hirsute freeloader Mister Sounder, who has the audacity to write letters to the papers bemoaning the short crop of "the would-be modern young Miss", even though he has "rather more hair coming in two exact little sprouts from his nostrils than modern fashion allows or nicety dictates", and Mister Wall, who really, truly thinks it's funny to call the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse "The Four Horsemen of the Eucalyptus".

Like John Keats, Anthony Burgess, Melvyn Bragg and either Ant or Dec (I can never remember which), my family had a pub for many years, and from an early age I came face to face with the horrors of the habitué. There are few things more soul-destroying than being locked into an early-evening conversation with a barfly who thinks they are funny or clever or, worst of all, "a character". My strategy would be to hide around the corner and not emerge until I heard the clink of change calling me to my post. This was because I was a bad barman - sullen, superior and resentful.

Bob, however, is a good barman - partly because he's angling for tips in the hope of topping up his wages by a pound a week (by the time I came into the business that particular incentive had gone the way of Lyons' Corner Houses), but also because he's simply a Good Bloke who is prepared to tolerate and occasionally even humour these hopeless misfits.

Just as Thomas Hardy effortlessly obliges us to root for Tess from the start by giving her great big eyes, Hamilton gives us no choice but to feel for Bob by making him plainly good-natured, affable and, at 25 (not entirely coincidentally the same age as the author when the book was published), all alone in the world - he has no recollection of his father, and his mother had died when he was 16 and at sea.

And of course, because all good novelists are bad people, things go very wrong for Bob. At 9.20pm of the first day we meet him, the door creaks open and a murderously pretty girl walks into the bar. By closing time he's given her 10 shillings to pay her rent, and has begun his transformation into the Young Werther of Warren Street. The girl, Jenny Maple, has an explosive smile, a well-practised line in sob stories and is very obviously, even to the bedazzled Bob, a prostitute. That doesn't put him off - in fact his act of charity, meant to keep her off the streets for a night, makes him feel "dreadfully conceited. He was so innocent as to believe the transaction was almost unique... He was in love with himself."

Although from a markedly different background to the "common" Bob - Hamilton's family were beleaguered toffs - the character is, emotionally, a self-portrait. The author had, like Bob, become embroiled in a maddening non-romance with a Soho courtesan, Lily Connolly (she had thought it was spelt Conerlly). She had reminded him of one of his and Bruce's favourite film stars, Esther Ralston, and he carries this likeness over to the gloriously blonde Jenny.

While being enfeebled and enslaved by the girl's beauty, Hamilton's intentions were pathologically pure. Like Bob, he idolised and indulged her and was thrown nothing but empty scraps of hope in return. Dates were broken, debts left unpaid and assurances that she would look for legitimate work abandoned, but everything would be forgiven and forgotten at the next illusory glimmer of affection.

Extraordinarily, when Hamilton started work on The Midnight Bell, he was still in thrall to Lily. He would, like Bob, walk the streets of the West End in the desperate hope of "accidentally" running into her in between clients. Bob's delusions and humiliations are Hamilton's too. Without even the benefit of hindsight the author understood his predicament entirely - he knew just how much of a fool he was making of himself and was able to write about the lunacy of the situation with detachment and humour, yet he was addicted to her.

At the outset of this one-sided affair, he had written to Bruce that she was "...Perfect. She is the summit of the human race. Her parents ought to be given a gold cup. She's without blemish." By the time he signed off The Midnight Bell, although still in occasional contact with Lily, he was able to dismiss her as "the mad harlot from Ipswich".

A profound difference between the two hapless suitors is that during his madness Patrick had a family to fall back on, a selection of confidantes and a blossoming career as a writer, whereas Bob has nobody and nothing. Nothing, that is, except his beloved £80, thoughts of which give him "more pleasure than anything else in the world".

From the first mention of this lump sum, carefully harvested away in the Midland Bank on the Tottenham Court Road, it's agonisingly apparent that by the end of his adventures with Jenny it will all be gone. And, gradually, he hands it over. She takes it with elaborate but empty protests, knowing full well that no matter how much she begs him not to be so kind, the notes will end up in her clutches. She instinctively senses exactly what she can get out of him for how little outlay, and sets to work with terrible efficiency. Bit by bit Bob's safety net falls in her lap and is squandered on drink, and what he doesn't give to her or lavish on her he invests in a blue suit with which to impress her.

Underneath this leeching of cash is the nagging knowledge that had he been a different man, for 80 quid he could have had an awful lot of sex with her. Absolutely tons of the stuff. But it never happened. It wasn't squeamishness or the fear of the uninitiated - after all, "...Bob had been to sea, and his behaviour had been neither eccentric nor snobbish in foreign ports". He couldn't bear the thought of sharing this cruel beauty's white body with strangers, and pathetically he thinks it's better not to have it at all.

Unlike Bob, Hamilton did finally go to bed with his girl. This was some time after his initial obsession had fizzled out. We don't know the gory details, but according to Bruce it wasn't a resounding success. The man infatuated to the point of insanity will always be a staple of fiction (my own writing is infested with them), and indeed much of Bob's story can almost be read as a cover version of the central doomed romance in W Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage, published the previous decade.

As long as there are men left on earth, legions of us will be falling in love with women who don't even particularly like us, let alone love us, and we will thoroughly disgrace ourselves in front of them. Every once in a while one of us will break ranks and decide to share our ignominy with the world by writing thinly veiled autobiographical fiction about it, but what really sets The Midnight Bell apart from its innumerable likenesses is the incredible humour leaping from every page. The overwhelming majority of Miserable Man writing takes itself far too seriously but, for all its horrors, in Hamilton's novel the gags come thick and fast - it could even be the bashful Fitzrovian cousin of John Fante's excruciating Italian-American comic masterpiece Ask The Dust.

And, of course, there's the booze. Even now, it's rare to find a book as sodden with the wonderful, nasty stuff as this. "And what an opportunity for my own particular brand of fun!" Hamilton wrote to Bruce, outlining his ideas for the novel in 1928. "Drunkenness. I should be able to write a rollicking little masterpiece." After his final, cataclysmic mistreatment at the hands of Jenny, Bob orders a double whisky from the buffet at Victoria station. It is to be his first of many that night. "Bob conceived it his duty to get wildly drunk and do mad things. He had no authentic craving to do so: he merely objectivised himself as an abused and terrible character, and surrendered to the explicit demands of drama... In deciding to get wildly drunk and do mad things, Bob believed he was achieving something of vague magnificence and import, redeeming and magnifying himself - cutting a figure before himself and the world. The fact that, in deliberately attempting to get wildly drunk and do mad things, he might actually get wildly drunk, and actually do mad things, completely eluded him."

The next day he concludes his adventure by waking up in a doss house, fleeced of what little remained of his £80, when all he had wanted was "one human and comprehending organism" of his own.

Continues below....



Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
On finishing The Midnight Bell, Hamilton entered his imperial phase. His play Rope (1929) (which Alfred Hitchcock subsequently turned into an only partially successful piece of experimental cinema - dismissed by Hamilton as "sordid and practically meaningless balls") became an instant West End hit, and toured the world for years. It was this and the comparable triumph of his next play, Gaslight (1938), that kept him in obscenely expensive whisky but, quite rightly, it was his fiction that he considered his important work.

The Midnight Bell, which received glowing reviews and healthy sales, was to be the opening volume of a trilogy. The Siege of Pleasure (1932) came next, following Jenny's journey from downtrodden serving girl to her life on street corners. Naturally the catalyst is drink, and Hamilton's dissection of her first experience of drunkenness is impeccable: "She felt the port trickling down inside, and it seemed that a kind of light fell upon her." He even allows us to feel some compassion towards her. She's just as ignorant, selfish, shallow, grasping, vain and vulgar as in The Midnight Bell, but she's more human too, and more hopeless.

Finally, The Plains Of Cement (1934) runs parallel to The Midnight Bell, and follows the travails of the pub's good, straightforward barmaid Ella as she is pursued by Mister Ernest Eccles - a man with a new hat, a horribly mesmerising tooth and "a little something put by". Michael Holroyd describes the timelessly grotesque Mister Eccles as "one of the most dreadful admirers in English literature", and the courtship - although little more than a series of misunderstandings, incomprehensible mutterings and pressings-up-against-railings - has a rare tension to it.

They were finally published together as Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky (the only realistic and affordable way to find The Midnight Bell is under this title), and with its dimly-lit garrets and fog-filled London streets so reminiscent of George Gissing, the book could almost be the belated final gasp of the Victorian three-volume novel.

Hamilton weaned himself off the women of Wardour Street, settled into married life and went on to write further great books, notably Hangover Square (1941) and The Slaves Of Solitude (1947), but his readership eventually slowed to a trickle. In the preface to The Light Went Out, Bruce's 1972 biography of his brother, he laments that "[Hamilton's] name is not now one instantly remembered by the wider reading public".

In 1993, his biographer Sean French described him as "an eerie non-presence in modern British literary history", and if anything, his profile has slipped even lower since then. His penultimate book, Mister Stimpson and Mister Gorse (1953), a sound but unexceptional novel, which suffers for the lack of a single likeable character, was turned into a TV series called The Charmer in 1986. The novel was reissued with, sadly, its new title and, sadder still, a photograph of Nigel Havers on the cover. That was the last time Hamilton had any kind of significant readership.

Patrick Hamilton was born on March 17 1904, and he approaches his centenary in undeserved obscurity. Hs publisher, Vintage, has marked his 100th birthday by allowing Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, and with it The Midnight Bell, to quietly fall out of print. Tatty copies occasionally surface on the internet though, and I can't recommend it highly enough. It's bleak and brilliant, and an authentic lost classic.


Link:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/...


message 14: by Nigeyb (last edited Nov 29, 2013 05:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Having finished the whole book now I can add a summary here too.

The Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky trilogy is an amazing achievement, originally published as three separate books: The Midnight Bell (1929), The Siege of Pleasure (1932) and The Plains of Cement (1934).

In 1935, these books were first collected in one volume as Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky.

The Midnight Bell (1929)

Patrick Hamilton’s protagonist Bob, the waiter at a Euston pub called The Midnight Bell, has saved £80 (worth several thousands of pounds in today's money) in the bank through prudence and maximising his tips. Following a chance encounter with Jenny, a prostitute, and with whom he becomes obsessed, and believing he can change her, he becomes ever more reckless and desperate. Towards the end, Bob, realising the folly of his misadventure, concludes "that it had all come from him, and only the hysteria and obsession of his pursuit had given a weak semblance of reciprocation". Basically he'd been played.

As with all the best books by Patrick Hamilton, in addition to a riveting drama, The Midnight Bell also provides a powerfully evocation of London - 1920s London in this instance. The character of Euston, the West End, Soho, and Hampstead, still recognisable to the modern Londoner are beautifully captured, especially the various pubs and cafes which feature so heavily in the story.

The other aspect that rings true so authentically is the dialogue: whether this be the conversations between the regulars at The Midnight Bell, or the somewhat stilted and love lorn conversations between Bob and Jenny, or most powerfully a dreadful scene when Bob visits Jenny in the room she shares with two other prostitutes. The true horror of his situation dawns on Bob, who remains powerless to escape. Frequently these experiences are accompanied by boozing, and then appalling hangovers and self-loathing: clearly something about which Patrick Hamilton had already gained a thorough knowledge.

The Siege of Pleasure (1932)

The Siege of Pleasure is essentially a prequel to The Midnight Bell and the story describes Jenny's drift into prostitution.

In common with Bob, Jenny is the architect of her own downfall. Patrick Hamilton again allows his characters moments of reflection and self-insight during which there are ample opportunities to escape their downward trajectory. It's a clever technique that had me hoping first Bob, and then Jenny, might escape. Like The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure is superb at bringing the era to life via numerous little details. In this novel, Patrick Hamilton wonderfully describes the household where Jenny gets a job as a live in maid and housekeeper. The two older sisters, Bella and Marion, who employ her, are fabulous creations.

One of the novel's longest scenes takes place over a night out in a pub in Hammersmith. Needless to say, Patrick Hamilton nails both the pub's atmosphere, and the way the evening evolves as two women and two men, first meet and get to know each other as inebriation takes hold and inhibitions melt away. Jenny's descent into drunkenness is one of the best descriptions of getting drunk I have ever read.

Patrick Hamilton also works in an incident of drunk driving - this following his own horrific accident at the hands of a drunk driver. In 1932, whilst walking with his sister and wife in London, Patrick Hamilton was struck by a drunk driver and dragged through the street. His injuries were devastating. After a three-month hospital stay, multiple surgeries (the accident ripped off his nose and left one arm mangled), and a period of convalescence, Hamilton suffered physical and emotional scars that would continue with him for the rest of his life. Some claim this contributed to his alcoholism. It certainly badly affected his self-esteem and he became very self conscious about the visible scars and loss of mobility. (His second play, To The Public Danger, commissioned by the BBC as part of a road safety campaign, was also an account of the carnage caused by drink driving).

The Plains of Cement (1934)

As with the other two books, The Plains of Cement works as a stand alone story, however the reading experience is even richer, for those that read the trilogy in sequence.

When writing this book, Patrick Hamilton saw himself as a Marxist, and, in common with the previous books, part of the book deals with the limited options for someone with no capital. Ella, in addition to herself, has to support her Mother, and Step Father, from her meagre earnings at The Midnight Bell. She also acknowledges that she is a plain looking woman.

Unexpectedly, she is courted by one her customers, Mr Eccles, an older man. Mr Eccles is at pains to point out he has Something Put By, and for Ella's benefit He's Letting Her Know (Patrick Hamilton again employing his customary "Komic Kapitals" to emphasise key phrases, and/or cliches, homilies etc).

Mr Eccles is another of Patrick Hamilton’s monstrous males (which start with Mr Spicer in Craven House (1926), continue with Mr Eccles, and which reach its apogee with Mr Thwaites in The Slaves of Solitude (1947) (although perhaps Ralph Gorse tops them all in The West Pier (1952); and Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse (1953)).

I digress, Mr Thwaites at first appears absurd, but quickly becomes more sinister, using his creepy and evasive conversational style, along with this financial independence to trap and coerce poor old Ella. He is lecherous and exploitative. However, Ella is not the naive fool he assumes, and is able to see through him. Some of the book's most appalling scenes are a result of Ella's internal thoughts on Mr Eccles' absurd conversation, conduct and attitudes.

Anyone looking for a happy conclusion, to the trilogy, should look elsewhere. The final story continues the tragic arc of the previous books, and perhaps more distressingly - and unlike Bob and Jenny - Ella is not the architect of her own situation, she's a victim of circumstance.

Ella is one of the most sympathetic characters ever created by Patrick Hamilton and this makes her tale even more affecting. This story confronts the loneliness and sorrow of existence and concludes that all we have is our humour and humanity to confront and counteract this cold truth.

Conclusion

Whilst Hangover Square may be Patrick Hamilton’s best-known London novel I think that Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky trilogy (in particular The Midnight Bell) is a key book in understanding his world view and the way he used his own life to inform his fiction.

The Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky trilogy is a masterpiece. Each story works well on its own terms, however when combined it creates one of the ultimate London novels. The twilight world of ordinary Londoners, trying to get by, yet all too easily seduced or distracted by the capital's temptations before coming crashing back down to earth. Beautifully written, it unerringly captures the world of the London pub, and the desperate lives of many ordinary people in the 1920s and 1930s, from a writer who was familiar with this world and sufficiently skilful to capture its every nuance.

Brilliant - but very, very bleak. 5/5


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod


He spent over an hour in here (the crowded Lyons in the Hampstead Road), smoking three cigarettes, and strangely enjoying the electric-lit, spoon-clinking liveliness of the place; and when he came out the world was transfigured by dusk. Bob identified and adored this transfiguration. All day long the Hampstead Road is a thing of sluggish grey litter and rumbling trams. But at dusk it glitters. Glitters, and gleams, and twinkles, and is phosphorescent – and the very noises of the trams are like romantic thunders from the hoofs of approaching night. In exultant spirits he strolled down towards the West End.

The Midnight Bell


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
David wrote: "Unusually, I saw the BBC 4 adaptation before I read the trilogy and even more unusually found the onscreen adaptation to be worthy of the books.."




Just to reiterate David's point, the BBC adaptation is very good and well worth watching. It's available on DVD.

I just came across this review on IMDB by CTerry1985 (Dorset, England)....

The mini-series follows three people in the Midnight Bell pub in the 1930s (not the 1940s as another person said. The Book was published in 1935) Bob, a waiter, Ella, a barmaid, and Jenny, a customer.

The first episode follows Bob, Jenny is followed in the second, and Ella is followed in the final piece, following Patrick Hamilton's trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels of which this is based upon.

In this modern age of fast paced, snappy action this mini-series may seem slow and bogged down by dialogue, but it takes not too long to realise the immense gravitas being drawn from all three of the actors involved.

30s London is recreated fantastically. It is a land of mundane routine and dull working class blandness, where people go about their lives wishing they could be more but never achieving it.

I found it very fascinating that Patrick Hamilton himself was infatuated with a prostitute at one stage, and therefore Bob is a mirror of him, and Jenny of her, because of this the series takes on a gritty, realistic edge. The dialogue is blunt, yet with the manner of the 1930s. There is an excellent scene in the first episode where Jenny and her friend Violet talk about proper manners, hardly what you'd expect from a pair of prostitutes.

Jenny is extremely flawed, and during the first episode you even get the feeling that she's simply not a nice person. Of course in real life, and in the book things simply aren't that simple, and the second episode exemplifies this, demonstrating exceptionally well why Jenny is the way she is.


Whole review here:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0446057/


message 17: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 159 comments I'll re-read this thread with interest, I've just borrowed this from the library and have started.
I started reading this book a while back but it wasn't the right time. I was reading several books which happened to be a bit dark and depressing.
I'll put some of the current reading on hold and get into Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, the opening few pages are looking good.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ Great News Greg. I look forward to discovering what you make of these books.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Great news Hamiltonians....


The BBC Radio dramatisation of Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky, first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1989, is going to be broadcast again on BBC Radio 4 Extra over the next few days, and the episodes will also be on iPlayer....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07g8...


Andrew Mackay | 84 comments Thanks!


Andrew Mackay | 84 comments "The Midnight Bell" was wonderful! Can't wait for "The Siege of Pleasure" and "The Plains of Cement"!


message 22: by Lucinda (new)

Lucinda | 38 comments Thanks for letting us know Nigeyb. I'll look forward to listening to them.


Andrew Mackay | 84 comments "The Siege of Pleasure" was equally excellent. As the radio version is a linear narrative, rather than the three parallel narratives of the original novels, "The Plains of Cement" is likely to be heartbreaking.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Thanks Andrew - my anticipation levels are increasing all the time.

I've recorded both and will listen on my MP3 player sometime soon (perhaps after Euro 2016 which means daily podcasts to keep on top of). If anyone outside the UK, who I'm guessing might not be able to listen on iPlayer, needs an upload then let me know.


David | 821 comments Thanks for the reminder. These will be keepers on my external drive once I download them.


message 26: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1364 comments Nigeyb wrote: "If anyone outside the UK, who I'm guessing might not be able to listen on iPlayer, needs an upload then let me know."

Predictably enough, that would be me. At your leisure, sir, and many huge thanks in advance.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Leave it with me Mark - just got to get record "The Plains of Cement" which I will do right now


message 28: by Andrew (last edited Jun 15, 2016 09:22AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Andrew Mackay | 84 comments "The Streets of Cement" was, as it only could be, brilliantly bleak.
All in all a first class dramatization of the trilogy, in the same league as the 2005 television version. Don't miss it!
Now I need a drink!


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
Great news Andrew. They're all on my mp3 player waiting for the right moment. I'm pleased to report that Mark has access to it now as well. Just need this pesky football tournament to finish.


message 30: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 159 comments I'm halfway into The Midnight Bell, getting into more now. A question: in chapter XXVII the description of the 'Illegal Operation', MacDonald, is very detailed. Hamilton must have modeled him from somebody he knew. What about the rest of the cast of chracters?


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
^ I can't recall the illegal operation or MacDonald. Sorry Greg. There is a bit about the inspiration for some of the characters on the thread dedicated purely to The Midnight Bell....

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

I hope that helps Greg. Otherwise I could dig out my Nigel Jones biog and remind myself what he says about it


message 32: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg | 159 comments Thanks so much Nigeyb, I'll read the Midnight Bell thread closely with interest. Cheers.


Nigeyb | 3859 comments Mod
The 1989 BBC radio adaptation of the trilogy is currently being broadcast on BBC Radio 4extra....


https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07g...

I've never heard it.

Three one hour episodes. I'll be interested to listen.


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