10th October, 2018
Gala Theatre, Main House
Review by Marta Nowak
Alan Johnson is a man who set out to achieve his dreams, and nowadays he’s reliving them through his musical memoir. He has published four books in total, and today I had the chance to get my hands on one. Johnson has named it after a Beatles’ song, which already gives it a musical vibe. The book starts off in the early 1950s and works its way up to a more present time. It details many aspects of his early life – such as his father’s sudden disappearance with another woman – and slowly builds up to his experiences of being in a band.
Alan sees music as an escape from reality. He was poor, although he never really noticed as everyone else around him lived in the same way. As he grew up and noticed the richer families around him, he and his sister Sarah pitied the more well-off children, as they had heard a rumour that they were sent off to a boarding school at a young age. He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be separated from his sister for so long.
The book features many different songs and artists, exploring different moods and emotions linked with them. It is a wonderful journey: from obtaining his first musical instruments, playing gigs in a few different venues, to forming numerous bands. My lesson from this book is that it’s never too late to fulfil your dreams, no matter what they are.
This work was produced by participants on our Durham Book Festival Reviewers in Residence programme, a cultural journalism programme run by New Writing North Young Writers. Reviewers in Residence gives aspiring journalists aged 15-23 the chance to review books, attend events and interview authors at the Durham Book Festival. For more information about New Writing North Young Writers visit the New Writing North website.