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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

on 4 January 2015
Good book bringing back some great memories, only thing In was a little disappointed with was that some of the text was joined together in the Kindle version which was a bit off putting at times.
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on 23 February 2018
Another classic from a Romish lad
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on 21 January 2015
very good
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on 24 May 2015
Tony Beesley sets out to write a memoir about his formative years of life and music in Rawmarsh, Rotherham, during the 1980s, influenced by his two big role models, Paul Weller (for his ducking-and-diving street nous) and Derek Trotter (for his song-writing skills and social conscience). The Only Fools And Horses theme runs deeper, because the Kindle edition of this at least, looks like it's been proof-read/formatted by Trigger (you self-publishers!). Look, I don't want to go all Boycie on Tony by sneering at the Beesley/Trotters, but the author's writing style does borrow heavily from Del Boy's rather free-form use of the English language and its various colloquialisms. But like DB, you can't fault TB for his boundless enthusiasm and optimism in his quest to get to the top. "This time next year, our John, we'll be pop stars". "What's that? You're kicking me out of my own band?". "OK, this time next year, our Gary, I'll be a solo singer-song-writer, in whatever style was in about two years ago, be it Punk, Mod, Ska, New Romantic, Soul-Boy-Casual, or, er, Mod again (unless it involves me getting out of bed in the morning or staying out of the pub)". Bits of this are hilarious, particularly when Tony strays into politics ("I'm staunchly anti-racist but I do a great line in national stereo-type gags"), relationships, or in fact anything other than music, because the boy Beesley has got great taste in tunes, and my time in Sheffield over-lapped with much of this book, so I can remember being at some of the exact gigs that Tony went to (Undertones, Skids, Clash - I wonder if it was my pint that Tony nicked that night at Top Rank?).
What Tony really wants is to be is the centre of attention, but because his own attention span is shorter that the Rawmarsh Conservative Club members list, he really struggles to stick with anything long enough to be a success (assuming he has the raw materials to BE a success?). Anyway, writing is Tony's new medium for being the centre of attention, and what he has produced here is a compelling account of a great age of gigs and music, but more importantly a fascinating social history of an area and and an era where things have already changed forever.
I know in giving this 5 stars, I'm putting it on a pedestal with "War And Peace" and "To Kill A Mockingbird", but maybe "this time next year, our Rodney, we'll be at them Booker T and the MGs awards". Why not? I really enjoyed it.
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on 2 April 2015
Interesting in places but very repetitive. It really needed a good editor or proof reader. It's full of errors. I bought the Kindle version and the formatting is awful.

It brought back some good memories in terms of the music but Beesley's 'we never did anyone any harm' wears thin pretty quickly.
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on 18 July 2013
It's always good to get a new book from Tony Beesley, and "Away From The Numbers" is another instalment (after earlier books like "Our Generation", "Out Of Control" and "This Is Our Generation Calling") in his highly detailed accounts of life, love, music, fashion and much more in the late 70's/early 80's. There are also lots of original photos, cuttings, tickets and fliers which add to the atmosphere - this is the kind of stuff that easily gets lost and overlooked, so there's a real element of recording the memories and culture of a particular local scene. As someone observed, he's kept alive the memory of a whole vibrant South Yorkshire scene. There's a really nice balance between the local and the universal in the writing, where you feel like you get to know Tony and his mates, but at the same time so many of their thoughts and adventures mirror teenage scenes and dreams everywhere. I hope he won't mind me saying that his writing's really come on from the early accounts of gigs and clubs too.

I don't want to risk doing a spoiler on the book but among the many highlights as Tony navigates his way thru teen trauma and a changing musical scene are a meeting with hero Paul Weller, producing his own fanzine, followed by a series of groups with mates - Terminal Daze, Control, the Way - you can pretty much tell the year and musical style from the names, classic!

He's certainly got a very fertile territory to write about in "Away From The Numbers". It was a fast-moving time that produced a bewildering torrent of very different but totally absorbing music, the range of which its still hard to take in 30 years later(in a much more dumbed-down musical environment. There was post-punk, Two Tone, New Wave, Goth, Northern Soul, to mention just a few, and a variety of attendant styles like Skins, Mods and New Romantics.

Where this book really scores for me is in how it balances personal and universal themes, as detailed descriptions of gigs, pubs, "lasses" or whatever merge together to really capture the simultaneous angst and magic of teenage life, when a week can seem like an eternity or contain a lifetime's adventure and changes. After a chapter or two I was back in the days of miners' strikes against the Thatcher dictatorship, and he really catches the strange way that it can seem like another world (no cd's, let alone mobile phones or mp3's), but one that on a personal level is driven by the same eternal forces. There's also some really effective writing when real life breaks thru the teenage dream. At the start of the book his Dad dies, followed by some very honest analysis of the stages of grief and how loss can affect a family - I know from my own life that such tragedies are just as likely to drive a family apart as bring them together. It's a really nice cyclical touch that the author becomes a father himself near the end of the book, bringing us full circle, & leaving the teacher-baiting kiddo of the early chapters far behind.

I've said it before but I'll say it again: this is all very much Tony's own work - in the true DIY spirit of punk - just say "Why Not?" to anyone who gets in the way - he's learnt his trade, cut through the crap, and done a great job of writing about a really significant period, both musically and personally. It's a journey that everyone makes in their own way, but so often by middle age people have simply forgotten about their younger selves or no longer care about how they got where they are. So next time you're thinking of sending a load of old singles down the charity shop, or binning your teenage scrapbooks - that's your life.

The memoir can be a tricky path, easy to fall into the dread "In my day..." territory, or to over-analyze youthful highs and lows from an older-but-wiser perspective. Tony Beesley avoids these traps thru the direct honesty of his writing, and lots of nice little touches like the occasional sketches and cartoons scattered through the text, which add to the affectionate but never sentimental tone of the writing.

Next one please Tony!
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on 27 June 2015
Rubbish self indulgent nonsense.
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on 13 August 2015
I've heard that some people think this book is self-indulgent, well surely that's what it's supposed to be isn't? It's one guy's recollection of his life at a certain period in time, and i found it totally convincing. I'm a bit older than the author but he reminds me of a time when i was of that age and the trials and tribulations (good and bad), of friendships and fun and just finding your niche in life, though you never wanted to really grow up!!! But that happens to us all in the end. As far as i'm concerned a great little read, well done Mr. Beesley
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on 27 May 2013
Much of South Yorkshire's music history would be lost if it wasn't for Tony Beesley.
The highly driven individual has turned the area's alternative culture of the seventies and eighties into a highly sought after cottage industry and helped him amass a clutch of bestselling books and more.
His latest offering, 'Away From The Numbers' is definitely his best to date.
Polished yet profane, slick yet sledgehammer - Tony Beesley proves you didn't need to be living in a provincial capital to be centre of the music world.
The book picks up his journey from rebel punk at the start of the eighties to rising mod star of The Way.
It's funny, brutally honest and ends with an abrupt twist as the 1990s approach as he becomes a dad to be for the first time.
It's also the era that saw his first foray into the world of publishing via his own fanzine - something he'd pick back up to blistering effect years later.
'Away From The Numbers' is refreshingly different perspective on the Thatcher years, an era that wasn't kind to Tony Beesley's Rotherham.
From the Battle of Orgreave to meeting Paul Weller, this is the era that really formed the celebrated historian we have today.
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on 24 August 2013
A great follow up to his previous book, A kid on a red Chopper Bike which covers the innocence of the 70's. Away from the Numbers is a stark reminder to all those living in south Yorkshire during the troubled times of the 80's. Amongst the trials and tribulations of dark times that surrounded the area. During that time there are a lot of laughs and a few tears with great soundtrack to life that followed Tony and his mates though a difficult period in life. Anyone who lived during this period will no doubt be able to relate to the tales in the book and those who didn't its a great history lesson from someone who did.
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