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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing the 'Fantasy Non-Fiction' Genre.
'Urban Grimshaw' is certainly unlike anything I've ever read before, a bizarre mixture of urban reportage, pseudo-mysticism , dodgy pub facts, drunken self-aggrandisement/self pity, misplaced self righteousness, and complete lies. Whether you're left or right wing, you'll find something to annoy you. It's certainly worth reading.

Anyway,questionable ideas in...
Published on 23 Feb 2011 by A. Miles

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's grim up north
What originally attracted me to this book was that it's a true story, written from first person perspective, about a subject really close to my heart... young people growing up in a tough northern city.

The author, Chop as he is commonly known, describes life in Leeds' East End Park by following the antics of a bunch of out of control kids who live in a shed...
Published on 25 July 2005 by Matt Wilson


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Introducing the 'Fantasy Non-Fiction' Genre., 23 Feb 2011
By 
A. Miles (Al Khor, Qatar) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
'Urban Grimshaw' is certainly unlike anything I've ever read before, a bizarre mixture of urban reportage, pseudo-mysticism , dodgy pub facts, drunken self-aggrandisement/self pity, misplaced self righteousness, and complete lies. Whether you're left or right wing, you'll find something to annoy you. It's certainly worth reading.

Anyway,questionable ideas in parentheses: Bernard Hare (or 'Chop' as he insists he's known as round the manor) is a disaffected, oft-unemployed drink and drug enthusiast in his mid 30s who's become disaffected because he is not allowed to be a social worker because of a minor criminal record (untrue) Thus he has sworn himself to bring down capitalism' (Though as he spends virtually the entire book drunk or drugged up in his council flat, or engaged in petty theft, it's difficult to understand exactly how this campaigns going)

He befriends glue sniffing oik Urban Grimshaw, a savant who declaims surrealist poetry whilst on the glue (The poetry, in fact, is clearly nicked from the Korova Milkbar scenes in 'A Clockwork Orange') Urban, and apparently all the children of Yorkshire, use glue to commune with the river god Bokono, who Hare later claims is also a god worshipped by Benin tribesmen (Bokononism is, in fact, a fictional religion invented by Kurt Vonnegut in the novel 'Cat's Cradle')

Chop joins Urbans gang of pre-teen delinquents and becomes involved with them over the next few years, managing to tech them to write suspiciously good poetry, (especially considering they're all illiterate) and gets them into Shakespeare and Robert Tressell. (again..)

Alongside all this, we get Chop's occasionally astute but usually pub-bore stylee political analysis (It's all Thatcher's fault) and his bizarre worldview (He seems to be under the impression that anyone who wears a tie to work is some sort of
top-hatted plutocrat: At one point he mentions that the local DSS offices are in his area, and imagines the clerks inside (who are 'all Cockneys') 'lounging around in their turkish baths').

so it's an odd book, it's social message about the underclass somewhat undermined by the large amounts of questionable truths in it. -It's difficult to know how much of the book, is true if you know for a fact that some of it isn't. Really interesting read, though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's grim up north, 25 July 2005
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This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
What originally attracted me to this book was that it's a true story, written from first person perspective, about a subject really close to my heart... young people growing up in a tough northern city.

The author, Chop as he is commonly known, describes life in Leeds' East End Park by following the antics of a bunch of out of control kids who live in a shed. As a writer Chop has a down-to-earth style that captures people and places well, however, some of the dialogue feels a bit false with many lines coming across as cheesier than your average soap opera.

I hesitate to say that I was shocked by the book but I think that I was. I wasn't shocked by any of the descriptions of what the kids were getting up to, I was shocked at Chop's own lack of control. As a 'grown up' hanging out with teenagers his fatalistic spiral down into his own degradation and hopelessness is at times quite alarming. Before the end of the book you'll be asking some pretty major questions about how good old Blighty became so grim.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, questionable narrator, 15 Nov 2012
This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
I can understand why many find 'Urban' to be a disappointing read and take a quick disliking to 'Chop'. Personally i find it to be a fascinating/horrifying insight into a world that will be far removed from many readers. I understand that Hare does not exactly come across as a pleasant individual, but in his defence a lot of the book is self-deprecating, and within the novel itself he never refers to himself as an 'unlikely saviour'. As someone who grew up in Northern England only a few years after the events of the book i must applaud Hare for his realism with regards to the culture and language of the time, even if some of the book, particularly the suspiciously gifted poems and diatribes from the kids, is hard to take at face-value. Personally i find it easiest to enjoy the book if you consider Hare an unreliable narrator; strip back some of the narrative that is obviously self-serving, the ridiculously simplistic politics frequently spouted, and i think you'll find it a satisfying and gripping read. If you take it as at least partly fiction, you can enjoy the ride whilst still gaining some insight into a horrific situation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gipping and immensely readable, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
Through the son of an ex partner the author meets and gradually gains the trust of a group of children. The book charts his relationships with them and events in all their lives over a few years against a backdrop of high rise flats and streets of old terraces in inner city Leeds.

The incredibly vivid writing gives the book quite an apocalyptic feel to it at times The children, still quite young at the start live chaotic lives outside society where normal rules don't apply. Their lawless outlook and lack of boundaries is shocking and disturbing. The author himself is no ordinary adult either. Despite a conventional upbringing he is something of a maverick and readers might be surprised at times by how tolerant he is of the children's activities.

This is an extraordinarily well written book and cleverly depicts how hard it is for those on the outside to get in. It is a grim tale that will succeed in leaving readers thinking. I note some people think there is exaggeration in the book. I have lived in this area and sadly there is no exaggeration, just a side of life more fortunate people don't experience.

It is a gripping and immensely readable book and strangely, given the subject matter also very funny in places, containing some of the most witty writing I have ever read. To my knowledge he has not written any books which is a shame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 25 Sep 2010
This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
This book was on my reading list at Uni and I was gripped from the first page. Would of loved a sequel to it. Highly recommended. I passed it on to my daughter to read, who has since passed it on to my boss and they loved it. A must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a wicked book!, 13 July 2010
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This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew is a truthful and honest insight into the covered up world of how some people live in the UK. The author, wreckless in his own life, built an unlikely, solid friendship with Urban. Some may have commented that this book is unrealistic, but if you don't live in a bubble and are aware of social issues that face people in the UK, you will find this book is as realistic as it gets.

One of the best books I've read in a very long time.

Highly recommend this, particularly if you do have an interest in social issues facing youth nowadays.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i wish there were six stars, 12 Jan 2006
By A Customer
This book is astonishing on all levels. For the things it tells, and for the way it tells them. Before this book I'd cross the road to avoid a group of kids like the Shed Crew. Now, I'd probably still cross the road, but at least I know they've probably got poetry in them. At least I know I could know them better and that there's undoubtedly something better to know. Bernard and Urban, hats off to you. Go throw flowers at yersen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book!, 6 Jun 2006
By 
John C. Patterson (Wales UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
Firstly I would like to say that I believe that everyone has a right to voice their opinions - having said that I was gobsmacked to read reviews on this website that attacked the nature and integrity of this book and it's author. I have NEVER in all my life read a book quite like this. It is incredibly well written, and though the all the characters and events are factuals accounts, the book has the fluidity of an astonishinly brilliant novel. My interpretation is that there are many saviours within the story - Would Bernard Hare have survived without Urban Grimshaw? And where would Urban Grimshaw be without Bernard Hare? Hare helped the people that society deem unfit for help - the lost people of Britain. The people who have no homes, possessions, and in most cases, aspirations. I would agree with the comments that are raised about Hare's own relationship with drugs not being a 'Good Example' in a traditional sense but would argue that it is precisely because Hare has first hand experience of the drug culture that he is fit to offer advice. I believe that Christina Patterson (Independent) sums the importance of the book perfectly on the back cover 'It has real power. Every politician - and every voter - should read it'. To that I would add this - Love it or Hate it but please READ IT! Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew will stay with me for a long, long time - and I have nothing but respect for Bernard Hare's patience, understanding and his ability to tell a great story.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a new Kes, 13 Jun 2007
By 
D. E. Rattray (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew (Paperback)
This is about an ex-social worker who becomes embroiled in the lives of juvenile delinquents to the extent where he practically becomes a senile delinquent himself. The narrator's nickname is Chop (Bernard Hare) and he is rather proud of this involvement and proud to become a member of The Shed Crew (young Urban Grimshaw's gang). On the front cover of the book it says "the shocking story of hellbound children and one unlikely saviour" but I'm afraid that in this, Bernard Hare immodestly overshoots a tad with the 'unlikely saviour'. I found the book and the attitudes behind it rather disappointing. The novelty of drug-taking, car stealing, violent little brats is great at first but wears off after a few chapters. Chop's pride in them and their crimes really grates after a while. With some arguments he's very inconsistent: Complaining about lack of schooling, care etc. and then proudly chronicling the kids hopping off school and saying 'up yours' to the care when the 'Babylonians' offer it. At one point when a kid 'torches' a phonebox and then his own mum's flat, there is very little criticism, instead an almost perverse fatherly pride. But if you're a decent, normal person living on this street it will harm your psyche. Not Chop's though as he's in amongst it and safe in his familiarity with these yobs. Instead Chop complains about these estates as if they breed all this. But would you want them on your street? Would they change? You get the feeling from Hare that if you're not a delinquent then it's because you've had a golden childhood with loving parents etc. All these kids want is to feel that someone cares, we are told. And Bernard Hare does, especially for Urban Grimshaw. But ultimately this book made me care less about them all, not more. It left me feeling that unless you can assign one social worker for a child, a fulltime one at that (hopefully one that doesn't do drugs with them or steal with them, protect them from the police etc.), then it's just too late to help them. That's just the impression I've been given from the book. One full time social worker per child is financially impractical- not from my taxes you don't mate! Life's unfair to everyone, not just the Shed Crew. I much preferred and would recommend A Kestrel for a Knave which actually showed the reader Billy Casper's background and lost potential rather than merely told you. Also, it lacked the self congratulatory narrator and intruding political rantings.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dickensian Nightmare in inner-city Leeds, 26 Jun 2005
By 
Mrs. S. Nussey "schnussey" (Chelmsford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
It would be a pity if people didn't pick up this book because they thought it was a kind of gritty social science. In fact the (true) story of Urban Grimshaw reads like fiction of the highest order. The events are, by turn, hilarious and deeply moving. The milieu is similar to Irvine Welsh's 'Trainspotting' but Hare's narrative voice is more accessible and, if anything, more assured. Hare, like James Kelman, has worked and lived with the community he documents; he shares many of their values and, although the book is permeated with a sense of outrage at the destruction of the social fabric caused by the Thatcher years its vitality, energy and sheer comedy give one hope. The 'characters' in the book have much to offer, but they are easy to demonise and, as Hare discovers, hard to help. The question is, who, beyond the level of the individual, is prepared to help in a world where social structures have collapsed.
Although assisted by BBC journalist, Fergal Keane whose 'A Stranger's Eye' visits the same area of inner-city Leeds, Hare has produced a book with much wider appeal. The book is a compelling read which, like all good stories, has its own momentum. I couldn't put it down.
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Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew
Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare (Paperback - 10 April 2006)
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