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Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

on 3 December 2013
Philip Norman you know all about my childhood in Ventnor, with Mr Mrs Wright buying a guest house opposite the park with stained wooden floorboards but superior to my mum and dads Guest House, Brunswick, as it had carpet squares in the middle of the rooms whereas ours had tatty lino. My mum impressed on me how fortunate we were when our visitors lounge was fitted wall to wall with inlaid lino. My best friend Michael Brent's parents owned a Hair "Salon" up Spring Hill, they used to work in a circus and knew the singing cowboy Gene Autrey, so I could'nt help being impressed that his mother did ironing on swanky metal ironingboard out of the USA and ate frozen peas! Going to East Cowes Tech meant at eleven taking five steam trains and two ferry crossings every day to get to school, eventually the Tech was closed down and I went to Carisbrooke Grammar at Gunville, and it was there one freezing February morning walking from the bus towards the entrance I heard about Buddy Holly's demise. No family trauma for me though, I was always along the Landslip, up the Downs or down the front so I hardly saw my parents at all. I may be remebering wrong but was the trick to buy a platform ticket at Ventnor And blag your way to Pompey Harbour with it or was it buying a platform ticket at Ryde Esplanade and going to Waterloo? I think it must have been the former. For me Ryde Pier just came to an abrupt end, I had no idea of the Pavilion etc and Philip's book is not disimilar, It just ends. A brilliant ruse to encourage sales of volume two.
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'..the tinny whirr of the candyfloss machine, the thump of the rubber fridge-lid, the rustle of sweets on weighing scales, the chip of coins being thrown into the open till.' Ah yes! If you ask how the till could not have been open, it was not a cash register but a simple compartmented wooden tray, hence ever-open. Nostalgia galore for those of suitably decrepit vintage, with Cossor television sets, Conway-Stewart fountain pens and the enigmatic 'Are you a Schweppicure?', but it's Newberry Fruits, Phil old man, not New Berry! A sort of poor man's crystalised fruit, they tended to appear around Christmas; did anyone eat them the rest of the time? You can still buy 'em (though why would you?)

A good read for a wind-swept beach but perhaps not so good for your Tenerife timeshare. Low-key and touching, drab as the decade it memorializes
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on 7 October 2012
I went to school in Ryde in the fifties and this story set in the town evokes many memories for me. Although Philip Norman was born two years before me, the names and places are all familiar and how well I remember the "grape green" sea showing between the planks of the pier.

Of particular interest to locals, the book would be a great read for individuals with a knowledge of English seaside towns just after the war

I have just upgraded this book from 4 to 5 stars as I constantly go back to it in quiet moments and I am right back in my happy seaside childhood.
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on 18 July 2017
Enjoyed the book a lot. Captured the perid well and reminded me of many things don't exist any more. Recommended.
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on 5 September 2015
The author has been able to recall in fascinating detail, his years growing up in a most interesting part of the Isle of Wight .
Well worth reading.
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on 4 September 2015
As i live on the Isle of Wight i know all the areas he talks about and i also think it was beautifully written .
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on 5 January 2008
I have a huge soft spot for this book. Philip Norman may be best known for his pop music biographies (which I admit I have never read) but with this he has produced a beautifully written account of a 1950s childhood spent mostly on Ryde Pier where his father ran businesses. It has a real sense of the time - of the austerity of the post-war years which ran into a nervous optimism with the coronation of the Queen and the dawning of a New Elizabethan age. I wasn't around in the fifties but you get the impression that this book tells it exactly how it is (or how it was if you spent most of your days on a pier on the Isle of Wight!). Full of rich and memorable characters such as his much-loved Grandma Norman who bucked the family trend of unsuccessful businessmen by running the sweets kiosk at the end of the pier. Philip Norman's tale is extraordinary yet every word rings true. Grisly accounts of childhood have become a bit of a publishing phenonomen since this book was published in 2003 but few would be as amazing or as well written as this.
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on 2 September 2013
I was interested in this book because I live on the Isle of Wight.
I enjoyed the detail about Ryde at that time and general UK detail especially music-wise as I was a similar age at that time.
However, the overall story left me wanting!
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on 28 February 2014
I first came across this book when it was serialised on Book of the Week on Radio 4 a few years ago. When I later came across it (like someone else in a remainder book shop) I snapped it up and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. As you will be lucky to find it in such shops now I would recommend buying it from Amazon.
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on 30 March 2008
I totally agree with the earlier reviewers, as this book captures the 1950 feeling exactly. The story leaves a young Philip serving behind the bar on the pier. I hope Mr Norman will carry on the story as I would like to know what happens in his experiences as a teenager living on the IOW.
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