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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars

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VINE VOICEon 9 July 2012
As a budding ukulele player I was attracted to this book by the subject matter, not having read anything by the author before. When I read the back cover in a shop I thought it was going to be a book about a man with no musical ability, teaching himself the ukulele by travelling around and playing in different places, but it is revealed early on in the tale that Wallington previously played the guitar in a band and so he wasn't a complete newcomer after all, which I did find a little disappointing, but it didn't spoil my enjoyment.

The book is essentially a road trip where Wallington aims to travel the length of the country, playing the ukulele - and the kazoo - at open mic nights in pubs, honing his craft until he finally plays a solo show in a remote pub at Cape Wrath, a booking he makes at the start of the story. In each chapter he does the normal "travel book" thing of describing his location, the people he meets, places he visits and so on, and these sections are often hilarious, particularly his numerous encounters with pensioners, especially when he finds himself on a bus with a driver who is something of a boy racer. The open mic performances themselves are described a little briefly, but then again what more could one say than what was performed and did it go well or poorly, so he focuses more on the other acts and the audiences themselves.

As the book nears its conclusion I did wonder how he was going to end it, such as if there would be some big moment of clarity, or a discovery of some kind, an insight into human nature kind of thing, but it seems that the author doesn't know himself, so as a result he plays a show, enjoys himself, and the book ends with a somewhat bizarre "Thank you". It did feel a little abrupt as an ending, but the journey there is enjoyable as it is.

It's a short, fun read, and not just for fans of the ukulele. Very enjoyable, despite the mild sense of "is that it?" at the end.
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on 7 July 2017
I have read all Mark Wallington's books and like them a lot, as he writes in an easy style and you feel you know him . This one was a favourite of mine, as it is quirky and if you walk into an "Open Mike Night" in a pub, you may just find Mark there! Say "Hi" from me!
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on 15 April 2016
Excellent , love all his books
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on 14 July 2017
I really enjoyed this book
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on 19 December 2012
Emminantly readable odessey around the country by Uke playing Mark Wallington. Doesn't matter if you like or dislike the Uke, this is a tale of people, pubs and one night (open) mic stands.
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on 5 May 2012
Really enjoyed this book which I read in the kindle format..it was a tale of Ukulele's ,travel and the trappings associated with live performance.
The appeal of the book for me was the fact that I myself play the ukulele and alike the author have recently stumbled on the glory of playing at 'open mic's..it was interesting therefore to read another take on this experience delivered with wit and enthusiasm.
Mark Wallington covers the breadth of the UK playing various 'open mic's up and down the country to create a national tour of sorts and the book is about this but ultimately about the experience and the people and places along route..the ukulele is focal in many respects but I'm certain a non-uke player would enjoy this book just as much as really the uke is just really the driving force for the trip rather than the ultimate focus.
It's also worth putting in the key words Mark Wallington,Ukulele into youtube to see one of the performances within the book at the SOAP 'open mic' as although the author downplays his abilities I think it is fair to say at that point in the journey he appears to have polished his craft and is as good a performer as many I have seen at local 'open mic' nights here.
From unorthodox Kazoo holders through to difficult toilet cisterns this is a great little book and I'm hoping Mark follows up with a similar one as there's still a great many 'open mic's.....or maybe even a world tour beckons!!
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on 15 May 2014
Up to Mark's usual high standard, plenty of laughs but also loads of information on the places he visited. I really enjoy Mark's books. Easy reading, ideal for journeys or on holiday.
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I've read Mark's other walking books and enjoyed them and as a former member of an R&B band and now also a ukulele player who occasionally attends open mics this book seemed purpose made for me. In the book he describes travelling around the country from the South coast to Cape Wrath at the tip of Scotland on public transport (and also walking) playing his ukulele at open mic nights along the way. I did enjoy the travel sections taking in places that I know (including Cheltenham where I live and where he played in a pub that I've also played in) and other places that I didn't know. These sections are similar to his other books, very easy to read and written with lots of humour but also a keen insight into the mores of modern Britain.

However, I found the descriptions of the open mics that he attended particularly interesting and also very original. I like the way that he seems very honest about the events and his performances - some were total anti-climaxes, some went badly wrong, some were just OK and a few went very well. I can certainly recognise similar open mic nights that I've attended, either as a participant or as a member of the audience, with similar organisers and similar budding musicians. Combining the travelogue with the descriptions of the open mic sessions for me made a very entertaining and interesting book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 January 2014
I have read all of Mark Wallington's books since discovering "The Missing Postman" and this is up there with the best of them - I just wish there were more of them! As with his other travel books this is an easy to read light hearted account of one of his journeys, this time making his way from the South Coast to the north of Scotland, on public transport and on foot, playing his ukulele at various "open mic" venues along the way with debatable talent and mixed audience appreciation. But don't be put off if you are not musically inclined, you soon find yourself getting hooked. And whether or not you are familiar with some of the places he passes through, he makes every one interesting and different, and he manages to bring them, and the people he meets, to life in his own unique style. If you have never read any Mark Wallington books before, don't leave it any longer, give this one a go.
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VINE VOICEon 21 October 2012
The Uke of Wallington is a very enjoyable piece of light reading. He has an easy going, engaging style which is more likely to have you smiling warmly than laughing out loud, but that isn't a criticism. This is a gentle book of the kind which feels like it should be read curled up in front of the fire with smug of cocoa or glass of malt whisky.

This is a much older Mark Wallington than in the earlier Pennine Walkies, 500 Mile Walkies or Boogie up the River. (and if you haven't read those, I thoroughly recommend them). There he was single, accompanied by Boogie the dog, here he is a married man whose kids have left for university.

After realising that the group do dad-rockers with whom he has been playing church fetes are basically no good, he sets out on a ukelele tour of open mic evenings, starting in Brighton and ending in Cape Wrath. On the way he meanders up the country, visiting the Cotswolds, Wales, Merseyside, Sheffield, Tyneside, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen, amongst others. As he travels, he wryly observes the state of Britain in the summer of 2011, the summer of the retail riots.

He meets a range of fellow performers, from the hopeful but untalented to the surprisingly good, along with a diverse cast of characters including have bus pass will travel pensioners, charmingly psychotic bus drivers, hermit like instrument repairers and desperate fringe performers. The highlight of the book comes when the Uke of Wallington enters a contest to be crowned Uke of Edinburgh during the festival.

Overall, thoroughly recommended for a piece of non too challenging reading.
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