Spoken Word,

Alan Johnson MP & Damian Barr

Tuesday 15th April 2014 - Starts 7pm


Alan Johnson Damien Barr Shoreham Ropetackle
Alan Johnson Damien Barr Shoreham Ropetackle

City Books Present: Alan Johnson MP & Damian Barr

Alan Johnson and Damian Barr come to Ropetackle to talk about their highly acclaimed memoirs as they are released in paperback.

This Boy: A Memoir Of Childhood – Alan Johnson

Alan Johnson’s childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of post-war Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all…

Played out against the background of a vanishing community living in condemned housing, the story moves from post-war austerity in pre-gentrified Notting Hill, through the race riots, school on the Kings Road, Chelsea in the swinging 60s, to the rock-and-roll years, making a record in Denmark Street and becoming a husband and father whilst still in his teens.

Alan Johnson was born in May 1950. He is a Labour Party politician who served as Home Secretary from June 2009 to May 2010. Before that, he filled a wide variety of cabinet positions in both the Blair and Brown governments, including Health Secretary and Education Secretary. Until 20 January 2011 he was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has been the MP for Hull West and Hessle since 1997.

Maggie & Me – Damian Barr

October 12th, 1984, an IRA bomb blows apart the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Miraculously, Margaret Thatcher survives. In small-town Scotland, eight-year-old Damian Barr watches in horror as his mum rips her wedding ring off and packs their bags. He knows he, too, must survive.

Damian, his sister, and his Catholic mum move in with her sinister new boyfriend while his Protestant dad shacks up with the glamorous Mary the Canary. Divided by sectarian suspicion, the community is held together by the sprawling Ravenscraig Steelworks. But darkness threatens as Maggie takes hold: she snatches school milk, smashes the unions, and makes greed good. Following Maggie’s advice, Damian works hard and plans his escape. He discovers that stories can save your life and – in spite of violence, strikes, AIDS, and Clause 28 – manages to fall in love dancing to Madonna in Glasgow’s only gay club.

Maggie & Me is a touching and darkly witty memoir about surviving Thatcher’s Britain; a story of growing up gay in a straight world and coming out the other side in spite of, and maybe because of, the Iron Lady.

Damian Barr is a writer, salonnière, and journalist for over a decade writing mostly for The Times but also the Independent, Independent On Sunday, Telegraph, Financial Times, and Guardian. He is currently Literary Editor of House magazine, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and runs the Reading Weekend.