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Blue Lights and Long Nights [Paperback]

Les Pringle
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Feb 2009

This book has been re-issued as Dial 999! ISBN 9780552165310.

Card-playing corpses, unfaithful husbands and 'flying' ladies - life as an ambulance driver in the 1970s was certainly varied …

At the age of twenty-three, Les Pringle decided to escape from office life, broaden his horizons and become an ambulance driver. Little did he realize how broad those horizons would turn out to be.

Filled with warmth and humour, Blue Lights and Long Nights takes us back to a time when lonely old ladies could call 999 and have a cup of tea waiting when the drivers turned up for a chat; when learning to drive the ambulance meant going out for one test drive and managing not to hit a pedestrian; and every day brought a glimpse into other people's lives.

From dosshouses to domestics, from a mother’s grief to high-rise drug dens, Les Pringle brings us all of human life, and death, at its best and at its worst.

Gripping, poignant and darkly funny, Blue Lights and Long Nights is an affectionate, warm-hearted look at a world gone by.



Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Press (13 Feb 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0593062523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593062524
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A great read. I loved every page."--Jack Sheffield

"It's the most wonderfully written book... I do recommend Blue Lights and Long Nights, I really do."--Libby Purves, Midweek, Radio 4

"His fascinating insight will make you laugh [and] cry..."--Yours Magazine

"Les' writing is so good that, even though I know the material inside out, I was still drawn to read more."--Tom Reynolds, author of Blood, Sweat and Tea

Book Description

The heartwarming, true story of life as an ambulance driver in 1970s Britain

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Debut 25 Jun 2009
Format:Paperback
I have just returned from holiday where i always take one book to read to pass the week, but having taken this cracking debut book, Blue Lights and Long Nights from talented writer Les Pringle with me i had six days without a book as i read the whole book in one day!!

The book flows to give an insight into Les's early career change into the Ambluance Service in the 1970's, where he goes onto effortlessly tell tales of banter between the staff on the station, amusing and horrifying incidents that he has attended over the years.

Les Pringles writing style is fantastic and as such that i could not put the book down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next! My only disappointment was when i reached the final page.

I for one hope that there is a sequel, to follow this superb debut. Buy it!!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very engaging book 27 May 2009
Format:Paperback
Les is an ambulance man through and through, he joined the Birmingham Ambulance Service in the early 1970's. This book is the story of his first eighteen months in the job.
I was immediately struck by Les' writing, full of humour, wit and self examination it reminded me of all the thoughts and feelings I had when I started ambulance work. Even including the worlds crappiest van for the driving test.

It's a very easy read and I read it in one sitting. He tells a number of stories and gives you all the interesting details without ever leaving you thinking that the story has gone on too long.

What is shouting out from almost every page is that the job hasn't changed since the 70's - sure, we have better equipment and more drugs to play with, but the messroom culture, the sorts of patients we go to and the problems with management are all the same as they are now. One story from more recent times its told, and it is only because I work on an ambulance myself that had me noticing the small difference between the past and present.

Les' writing is so good that, even though I know the material inside out, I was still drawn to read more - he's a very engaging a writer. If you like honest, well-told tales, then you will like this book and I cannot recommend it enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not a lot has changed 7 Mar 2009
By T Bird
Format:Paperback
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having worked in 'the service' for the past 14 years its nice to know nothing much has changed since the 70's. The black humour is still there, the messroom banter, the drunks, the regulars and the sense of satisfaction of a job well done. Les writes with great wit and does not dwell on the gore but on the lighter side of the 'business'. Read the book in two days its now doing the rounds in the messroom.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, understated book 24 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book after hearing Les Pringle on Midweek on Radio 4. The book sounded interesting, as did Les's gentle, low-key way of talking about it, and I have a particular interest in Birmingham.
As a read, it wasn't a disappointment in any way. It's very well written, just the right length and none of the details of often haunting events are overdone. Les's attitude is humane and endlessly interested in people and he is skilled at conveying characters in a few deft strokes.

Best of all, though it is not a 'funny book' as such, his wry style is part of the enjoyment. There are sublime scenes, such as the ambulance crew's attempt to 'help' two drunk blokes in a Birmingham park. In another encounter, Les is being quizzed for the umpteenth time by some stranger who wants to be regaled with gory details about accidents and traffic smashes. To his question, 'Have you ever been involved in any plane crashes?' Les replies, 'None that springs to mind.'
All great stuff, and some of it not easily forgotten.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories 22 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
Having read this long awaited book it took me back to the early days of my time in the ambulance service and the calls that we used to attend; not only that but the comeraderie amongst the crews and the 'high jinks' that used to take place in the crew room...an excellent book....hope there is more to come
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is by far the best book I've read. Very funny and I couldn't put it down. Recommended to everyone. Working in the ambulance service myself it's surprising how little has changed. Brilliant!!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book...! 12 Feb 2009
Format:Paperback
Really enjoyed this book. As a fan of non-fiction I love a good true life account. Funny and entertaining but thought provoking and humanist. Good read highly recommended. Hope there is more to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue Lights and Long Nights 18 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
`I have to admit that I picked up this book as the third choice in the Waterstones three for the price of two offer. (Sorry Amazon.) As it turned out I was delighted with the purchase and even though I'm not one for writing reviews, I felt that I had to sing its praises here as it's as good a piece of down to earth story telling that I have come across in a long while. It's basically the story of a young man joining the ambulance service and grappling with all that that entails. One of the attractions is that he takes the reader with him on a voyage of discovery and does it in the most unpretentious way leaving you wanting to know what happens on the next page. It has pathos and humour in equal measure...not an easy trick to pull off convincingly. According to Amazon there is a follow up coming out in the summer, which is great news as I for one want to know how he and his shift-mates cope with the further trials and tribulations heading there way.

All in all it's a cracking read and highly recommended.'
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, read.
Explains what you may have to deal with when just starting out with a career with the emergence ambulance service.
Published 14 months ago by jill mackman
5.0 out of 5 stars Blood Guts and Mirth
Good readable story of the front line dealing with "the great british public". Good mixture of humour and pathos. Read more
Published 17 months ago by M. J. Young
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it
As usual, excellent service and product, very pleased with it, I shall order more from the same site in the future
Published 17 months ago by Janice Starnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved my long nights with Les Pringle
This book was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Les Pringle has a talent for observational humour & had me chuckling away. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Dipster3103
5.0 out of 5 stars Dial 999 - under another title.
Please see my review under "Dial 999". However, just let's say, I worked alongside Les, and can second his stories, emotions & thoughts. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Rocker
4.0 out of 5 stars Duplcated story
Unfortunately I purchased this book along with another book ( Dial 999 ) by same author only to find that both were the same story ! Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2012 by Roger
4.0 out of 5 stars Kindle sample only - Probably the most professionally-written of this...
For some reason, the Kindle version seems to be unavailable, yet I read this on my Kindle. It was slightly annoying to have no bespoke cover and the usual Random House wide margin... Read more
Published on 22 Nov 2011 by Andrew Ives
5.0 out of 5 stars Blue lights and long nights
Excellent read. Very entertaining and captivating. Hard to put down - just like other books by Les Pringle. Most enjoyable.
Published on 15 Jun 2011 by sue
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT BOOK
I AM NOT A READER AS SUCH BUT THIS IS THE SECOND BOOK OF LEA PRINGLES THAT I HAVE ACTUALLY FINISHED- I LOVED BOTH OF THEM AND I WOULD CERTAINLY PURCHASE ANY MORE THAT HE HAS... Read more
Published on 21 April 2011 by E. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars blue lights and long nights
this book is well written , i have read les previous book when will he write the next.
a good read .
Published on 18 April 2011 by j.c.d.
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