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Broken Greek: A Story of Chip Shops and Pop Songs
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Hamilton-esque books, authors.. > Broken Greek by Pete Paphides

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Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I've finished the first couple of chapters of...


Broken Greek

...and I am loving it

Listen to Mark....

Mark wrote: "I’m reading Broken Greek at the moment. My best advice? Run, don’t walk. It’s very, very good indeed."

...Mark knows

I know Mark is reading it and possibly David to, so let's share the love, right here, right now



Broken Greek...

'Unflinching and heartwarming' - Adam Kay

'Tender, clever and as funny as it gets ... a heart-piercing joy' - Lauren Laverne

'An exceptional coming-of-age story [...] Pete Paphides may very well have the biggest heart in Britain' - Marina Hyde

'I ADORE this utterly wonderful coming-of-age memoir. Joyful, clever, and a bit heartbreaking' - Nina Stibbe

'Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written, Broken Greek is a childhood memoir like no other' - Cathy Newman

'So wonderfully written, such a light touch. Drenched in sentiment yet not in the least sentimental' - John Niven

'It's brilliant. Sad, really funny and beautifully written ... just fantastic' - Alexis Petridis

'A truly beautiful book' - James O'Brien

'Intoxicating' - Kirsty Wark

'Oh, how I love Pete Paphides and this book' - Daniel Finkelstein

__________

'Do you sometimes feel like the music you're hearing is explaining your life to you?'

When Pete's parents moved from Cyprus to Birmingham in the 1960s in the hope of a better life, they had no money and only a little bit of English. They opened a fish-and-chip shop in Acocks Green. The Great Western Fish Bar is where Pete learned about coin-operated machines, male banter and Britishness.

Shy and introverted, Pete stopped speaking from age 4 to 7, and found refuge instead in the bittersweet embrace of pop songs, thanks to Top of the Pops and Dial-A-Disc. From Brotherhood of Man to UB40, from ABBA to The Police, music provided the safety net he needed to protect him from the tensions of his home life. It also helped him navigate his way around the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rod Hull and Emu.

With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifying to him: his parents were Greek, but all the things that excited him were British. And the engine of that realisation? 'Sugar Baby Love', 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', 'Tragedy', 'Silly Games', 'Going Underground', 'Come On Eileen', and every other irresistibly thrilling chart hit blaring out of the chip shop radio.

Never have the trials and tribulations of growing up and the human need for a sense of belonging been so heart-breakingly and humorously depicted.




Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
In addition to all the nostalgia and interesting tales of what pop songs meant to young Pete Paphides, there's also quite a sad story of the dashed hopes of his parents whose desire to return home to Greece/Cyprus was repeatedly dashed by one thing or another.

I've just read how Pete's mother had to deal with the death of her Mum which also reveals the consequences of her leaving Athens. A really tragic tale.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
There are lots of charming and/or amusing sections in this book but my favourite, so far, has to be the moment that young PP has his mind blown by the shock revelation that John Lennon and Paul McCartney had once been in a group together.


David | 862 comments That had me chortling as Pete revealed that in the Word podcast where he was a brilliant guest. I do remember tales of kids in the mid-70s being aghast that Paul had left Wings when they pulled a Beatles LP from the record shop racks and saw that he'd found a new gig.

Broken Greek has moved up my priority list after digitally trousering it for 99p, and following Pete's five days of reading extracts on Radio 4 last week.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000...


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Mark is the font of wisdom and spiritual guidance and, when he said don't wait don't hesitate, I heeded. I'm glad I did. It's really enjoyable.

I look forward to your reaction David


David | 862 comments 4% in, according to the daytime Kindle, and Little Jimmy Osmond is accorded the title “the tiny twinkle-eyed Satan of kid-pop”.

Your work is almost already done with that jaffa rising steeply off a good length*, Pete.

*God, what will I do all summer without Test Match Special?


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I've just finished


Flipping brilliant

I don't how he's done it, but Pete has perfectly captured adolescence, and the associated quest for identity, all exacerbated by being a kid of first generation immigrants, whilst being in thrall to pop music

I could happily turn back to page one and start all over again


David | 862 comments 46% through says the daytime Kindle, and I am besotted, beguiled and beside myself (2m away, of course) with delight at Pete’s mastery of prose and benign emotional manipulation.

Even when his mother is found seriously ill, his punctuation of the potential tragedy with childlike minutiae is masterful. Kate Bush, BHS, Manchester United, Joe Jackson, a Morris Minor, and musing over the unflustered GP’s gentle English passion for Acker Bilk and Chris Barber. Proper writin.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Abso-flipping-lutely - it's a wonderful achievement


I'd love him to write a follow up. As you'll discover, it ends quite abruptly and just left me wanting more


message 10: by David (last edited May 17, 2020 04:30AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David | 862 comments I’ve just texted my Beatles-savvy daughters the passage below. We have a family Zoom call (Aberdeen, rural Scottish Highlands, Toronto) in poor lieu of our cancelled Chicago-Memphis-Nawlins adventure. I suspect spouses, partners, dogs and grandchild will have to wait to give input until the She Loves You adrenalin rush and the Martin genius of Abbey Road’s side two segue are marvelled at by pater and his Beatlings.

"All that remained once I returned Ged’s Beatles album to her was to casually try and ascertain why my parents had been keeping this music from me. Why on earth would you have heard these songs and not consider it a matter of the utmost importance to steep your offspring’s infant brains in them?"


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
David wrote: "All that remained once I returned Ged’s Beatles album to her was to casually try and ascertain why my parents had been keeping this music from me. Why on earth would you have heard these songs and not consider it a matter of the utmost importance to steep your offspring’s infant brains in them?"

That is a wonderful section


David | 862 comments THERE
ARE
NOT
ENOUGH
SUPERLATIVES
IN
OUR
NATIVE
TONGUE.

I doubt that I’ll enjoy anything more for a very long time.

Part II please.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Splendid - so glad you got as much out of it as I did


Yes. Part Two. Now.


message 14: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Gosh, well that's sold it to me. I'm going go start with the Radio 4 extracts and move on from there.

I've been pondering over whether to read Rock Stars Stole my Life!: A Big Bad Love Affair with Music - anyone read that one?


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I have. It’s enjoyable Ruth. I reviewed it.


David | 862 comments You’ll love Broken Greek, Ruth, and thanks for the reminder on the Mark Ellen book. It is on my list.

I have just returned from a walk around the local moor, where I did splutter with laughter during the latest Word podcast as Mark imagines what the next photo of Robert Johnson will look like. 😆


http://wordpodcast.co.uk/


message 17: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Thanks Nigeyb, I'll take a look.

And thanks for the link David. I used to listen to The Word podcast and was wondering if it was still going.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
The Word podcast is a regular fixture since lockdown. Just David and Mark musing on this and that. Always very listenable. Before Lockdown they'd put out the audio from their A Word In Your Ear events which feature guests - I never miss an episode.


David | 862 comments During lockdown, the Word rascals now have their own YouTube channel, Word In Your Attic. They admit that this is more or less old blokes showing each other their LPs, but it’s much more than that, with very entertaining Zoom-type guests, like Danny Kelly, Jim Irvin and Clare Grogan.

I find myself almost wishing for rain as an excuse to stay indoors (we have a good-sized garden, Covid worriers) and watch it all.


message 20: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments I quite like podcasts where interesting people just chat and reminisce and perhaps get a bit nostalgic. Nothing too heavy at the moment.

I've been listening to Tracy-Ann Oberman talking to Danny Baker on an episode of her podcast Trolled, and also Box of Delights where someone brings along a favourite TV memory


message 21: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Just listened to all five episode of the R4 extracts from the book. I was just going to try the first one, but I couldn't stop listening. Can't wait to read the book now.

Although I'm over 10 years older than PP, I think we all share certain musical experiences growing up, whether it's in the 50s, 60s, 70s or 80s. His experience of seeing The Stranglers on TOTP reminded me of the first time I saw Arthur Brown singing Fire. I was absolutely terrified of this dangerous man who so different to the usual smiling familiar pop stars. My sister, who being 4 years older than me and so much more mature, loved it of course.


David | 862 comments That’s the draw, Ruth. His experiences, although rather more extreme than those undergone by most of us, are familiar and utterly credible. That he hooks personal experience to Abba’s latest release is an incredible feat of memory.

My own twin epiphanies were seeing Brian Jones slide a bit of glass along his guitar fretboard in Little Red Rooster in 1964, and my elder brother’s incessant playing of his Magical Mystery Tour double EP in 1967.

You’ll love it.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
David wrote: "You’ll love it"


As usual I must concur with David

Hard to imagine you not revelling in it


message 24: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments I finished Broken Greek a day or two ago, and I really dug the hell out of it. It required a bit of work on my part, though -- mainly because of the music bits. It required a fair amount of substituting bands and songs and albums on my part, if I wanted to join dots and identify. If I was even vaguely aware of the whole Blur vs Oasis nonsense, I was completely oblivious to the whole Echo vs Teardrops nonsense. And I never went for ABBA. And never mind The Barron Knights, whom I’d never even heard of. But the effort was minimal and, once made, it was easy to identify with young Pete.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "And never mind The Barron Knights, whom I’d never even heard of"


You should thank your lucky stars Mark

Truly appalling

Fair play to Pete for admitting to liking them (and other irredeemably terrible groups). I have to say, even as a child I thought they were total cack and never remotely funny.

Going to the Barron Knights gig with collection of their 45s was a great anecdote though


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

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Nigeyb wrote: "You should thank your lucky stars Mark..."

A lot of the music/bands mentioned had me put the book aside momentarily and pay a quick visit to YouTube. It was a particularly quick visit, quicker than most, when investigating The Barron Knights.


message 27: by David (last edited Jun 12, 2020 12:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

David | 862 comments Nigey, I think you can apply your flawless copperplate to Pete’s Certificate of Achievement now, in preparation for this year’s Hammy awards, where he seems destined to clean up.

The Barron Knights were of fleeting amusement to 8 year old me. The joke rarely lasted as far as the b-side.


message 28: by Ruth (last edited Jun 16, 2020 05:18AM) (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments I'm currently listening to Going to Sea in a Sieve and reading Rock Stars Stole My Life! and finding them both very entertaining. I'll be starting Broken Greek when I've finished these two I think.

I know these books are all written by men but the whole rock scene seems to be a bit of a blokey thing - is that true or are there women writing these sort of memoirs and joining in on forums such as The Afterword?


message 29: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments I've just edited my last post as I realised I'd made a complete mess of it by missing out one of the books I'm currently reading!


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Ruth wrote: "I'm currently listening to Going to Sea in a Sieve and reading Rock Stars Stole My Life! and finding them both very entertaining. I'll be starting Broken Greek when I've finished these two I think."

I've read all of the above - blimmin marvellous they all are too

Ruth wrote: "I know these books are all written by men but the whole rock scene seems to be a bit of a blokey thing - is that true or are there women writing these sort of memoirs and joining in on forums such as The Afterword?"

It is quite blokey however there are plenty of interesting books by women around. Off the top of my head here's a few I've read and so can recommend...

Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys

I'm Not with the Band: A Writer's Life Lost in Music

Bye Bye Baby: My Tragic Love Affair with The Bay City Rollers

Just Kids

Defying Gravity: Jordan's Story

How to Build a Girl (Fiction but v autobiographical)

The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise


message 31: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Ruth wrote: "are there women writing these sort of memoirs ..."

With absolutely no disrespect to Nigel, he skipped over one that I would put at the very top of the list, in terms of meeting your criteria.

If you haven’t already read The Prettiest Star by Nina Antonia, you need to.

Many strong parallels with Broken Greek -- discovering oneself through music at a very young age, and how passions help to lend order to a world that otherwise makes little sense -- but very much from a woman’s point of reference.

On the surface, it’s a biography of Brett Smiley, a pop star for less than fifteen minutes, but that’s only the surface.

It may take a bit of searching to find, but if you do find a copy to read, I can’t imagine you not treasuring it.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Oh yes, top tip from Mark


message 33: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Rubenstein | 1386 comments Nigeyb wrote: "Oh yes, top tip from Mark"

Reading Broken Greek had me pulling my copy off the shelf for a re-reading. As far as I’m aware, that’s her last book to have been published, which seems a shame.


David | 862 comments Kim Gordon’s Girl In A Band is among the books that daughter 2 left in my custody when she went to live in Toronto, and it’s nudging its way up my to-read list.

The Viv Albertine book (also from my daughter’s remote library) mentioned is a close second to Broken Greek as the best thing I’ve read all lunar year, and the Chrissie Hynde memoir Reckless is also insightful.

I did also read one of Louise Wener’s novels (mainly because it featured a Dexys’ obsessive), and it hit the spot too.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Not read any of those David, some sound intriguing, though have readLouise Wener's autobiography Different for Girls: A Girl's Own True-life Adventures in Pop which is fine though nothing amazing


message 36: by Ruth (last edited Jun 16, 2020 09:25PM) (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Thanks Nigeyb, Mark and David - some really interesting books to tempt me there.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
As we know Pete Paphides is always entertaining and he's true to form in this Word In Your Attic video (which is different and distinct from the Word In Your Ear podcast about Broken Greek)....

https://youtu.be/1xnRwl7cEeE


message 38: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Nigeyb wrote: "As we know Pete Paphides is always entertaining and he's true to form in this Word In Your Attic video (which is different and distinct from the Word In Your Ear podcast about [bo..."

Thanks Nigeyb. Looking forward to watching that one.


David | 862 comments I haven’t listened to this yet, but I just know that it’s be extremely worthwhile, as the others in Ed Needham’s series have been.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7ons...


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Thanks David - I'll check it out


David | 862 comments I’m listening right now.

It is magnificent.


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
I notice the episode dated 12 Jan 2021 features TPHAS favourite Anthony Quinn (on writing a love letter to Jurgen Klopp)


David | 862 comments I think I mentioned it on the Quinn thread. It’s very good.

Ed Needham impresses me more and more. The hearty thwack of Strong Words on the hallway carpet every six weeks is as welcome as Word used to be.

His incredible solo production régime makes my annual reading target look like a browse through the local weekly newspaper’s cricket reports in comparison.

https://soundcloud.app.goo.gl/6kSbxqD...


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Yes indeed David. Pete and Ed are both on top form and I am inspired to go forth and investigate Ed's output. Thanks as always


David | 862 comments I’ve just been alerted to this playlist.

https://open.spotify.com/user/kalavas...


Nigeyb | 3937 comments Mod
Someone's been busy


message 47: by Ruth (new) - added it

Ruth | 102 comments Wonderful!


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