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A. Roderick

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The  Making of Stan Laurel: Echoes of a British Boyhood
The Making of Stan Laurel: Echoes of a British Boyhood
by Danny Lawrence
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book, 6 Dec. 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I have to admit that, despite reading all the books by John McCabe, Simon Louvish, AJ Marriott and Randy Skrekvedt, I never really appreciated the importance of North Shields in Stan's story. Many of these authors put so much importance on Ulverston and even Glasgow, dismissing North Shields as "the north east".

I'd also never considered how his childhood influenced his work. We all know how Chaplin used to base some of his sets on Lambeth (e.g. Easy Street) but I'd never thought about Stan's up bringing.

This book has a thorough description of Stan's childhood and of his father's theatrical background - from performing to running and owning theatres and music hall venues. It also highlights how Stan still had so much affection and nostalgia for the "old town" in his later years, after living in California for decades.

I'd recommend this book to all fans of Laurel and Hardy (Stan Laurel in particular) who are looking for more than just a list of films or chronological list of events.

USpicy Make Up Brushes 6-Piece Professional Cosmetics Makeup Brush Set with Gift Box Makeup Kits (Purple)
USpicy Make Up Brushes 6-Piece Professional Cosmetics Makeup Brush Set with Gift Box Makeup Kits (Purple)
Offered by Sunvalleytek-UK
Price: £15.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Delighted, 17 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought as a Christmas present for my 18 year old daughter who loves these. She can't praise them enough, saying how soft they are. Incredible value for the price.

Under the Microscope: My Life
Under the Microscope: My Life
by Dave Spikey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read., 2 Nov. 2010
This book is a delightful read and an antidote to some other celebrity biographies in that there is no sob-story with a hardship upbringing, beatings and addictions. Dave Spikey obviously had a wonderful childhood and rates his father as his hero.
In fact, the delight of both the book and the person is his grounded nature. He worked for the NHS in the Haematology Laboratory as a Biomedical Scientist (hence the title) for 32 years before packing in the day job as late as 2001 to both co-write and co-star in one of the best comedies in history - "Phoenix Nights" with Neil Fitzmaurice and, of course, Peter Kay.

Dave takes us through his upbringing which was as normal as most people, with a loving family and getting into the usual scrapes that boys do.

At 16 he is forced to abandon the thought of a career in medicine after his father, a painter and decorator, has an accident and is therefore obliged to be the bread-winner in the family and embarks on an ONC course that will eventually lead to becoming Chief Biomedical Scientist in the Haematology Department at Royal Bolton Hospital. The anecdotes of life in the lab are hilarious and he talks about starting a second career in comedy, firstly as a double act and later solo whilst still doing 30+ hour shifts in the lab. He even took annual leave to present the TV show "Chain Letters"! Imagine looking down a microscope by day and meeting the likes of Paul McCartney and The Queen by night (ok, he'd packed in the labs when he met these two but you get the gist!).

Dave appears totally star-struck, as you'd expect from someone that had lived a "normal" life and obviously still pinches himself to believe that this really has happened to him.

There are no real controversies in the book apart from his disappointment at Peter Kay taking all the credit for Phoenix Nights and his subsequent decision to write with Paddy McGuinness.

All in all a lovely and easy read that has obviously been a labour of love for Dave. Well worth buying.

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