Memoirs

Alan Scriven’s two books – The Longmynd Adventure Camp and Me, and More from the Longmynd Adventure Camp, and Me – tell the story of a unique piece of local history, stemming from an act of generosity and the subsequent ambition of a Shropshire policeman in the 1950s. Bill Williams enabled countless Black Country boys to escape their lives of poverty and the city, if only temporarily, with a break at the Longmynd Adventure Camp. It’s easy to imagine what these boys must have felt like and how being such a boy led author Alan Scriven to become a long-term voluntary helper and, eventually, leader, of this wonderful camp.

Jan Pryor’s memoir, After Alexander, while coming from the position of the death of her baby Alexander in 1981, is in fact a fascinating and beautifully written account of Jan’s life as well as a study of grief and bereavement. There is no doubt that this story will have readers in tears but it is told in such a way that you will want to read on. It is hard to imagine exactly what Jan and her family have been through but in After Alexander, we are able to see at least a little what it is like to survive a tragedy of this nature, and still to go on and live life.

Meanwhile, Claudia de Verteuil’s book Paradise Plums and Cocoa Beans shares the story of her sister Celia, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia whilst a teenager and who subsequently came from Trinidad to England for treatment and became essentially institutionalised. This is another beautifully written and intelligent memoir, looking into mental illness, its treatments and its possible causes.

Bob Smeaton’s From Benwell Boy to 46th Beatle… and Beyond is the tale of double-Grammy-award winning music documentary director Bob Smeaton. Hailing from Benwell, a small working-class suburb of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bob’s love of music drove him to make a break from a world where a career in the shipyards seemed the only option, to working with some of the greatest bands and artists of all time. Inspirational and fascinating.