Saturday April 20 2019



Village Art & Literature

Perfect presents!

Posted on November 29 2011 at 10:43:17 0 comments

A round-up of the latest books by local authors.

The Smoking Gun
by Nigel Hastilow

It’s a good idea to write about something you know well, and Cofton Hackett-raised Nigel should know a thing or two about political intrigue and smoking.

He’s fought and lost a parliamentary seat in Edgbaston for the Tories and been selected to fight another, in Halesowen, before being forced out by Conservative head office over a newspaper column.

And when I worked with him he could fill an office with fag smoke in no time.

His first novel arrived just as were going to press, so there was only time to read the first chapter, which rocked along in what I remember to be typical Hastilow fashion as a total smoking ban is imposed on Britain and an MP is stitched up.

According to the press blurb Nigel’s given up one of his former vices, but doesn’t say whether it’s smoking or politics. I’d imagine it’s not the latter – an addiction he’ll never beat, as you’ll see if you read his book. RP

To find out how to buy it, see:

The Little Book of Birmingham

The Little Book of Birmingham
by Norman Bartlam

If you’re the sort of person who loves to soak up trivia, this book is the ideal stocking filler – even more so if you’re a native of Brum or its environs.

Crammed with an inordinate amount of facts about the Second City, it’s also a genuinely useful resource for history buffs and researchers.

Presented in a list format, there is information on the tallest structures, highest points, shortest bicycle lanes and most-congested highways, as well as facts about Birmingham’s famous sons and daughters – and of course, a guide to Brummie words and phrases.

There are reports of royal visits, criminal offences and some unintentionally hilarious entries from old school records, as well as such essential titbits as the names of the three female otters at the Sealife Centre!

Other gems include lists of the world’s other Birminghams (22 in the USA alone), the five roads used for the Birmingham SuperPrix (those were the days), the city’s 13 ancient monuments, and the first conferences to be held at the International Convention Centre…

I guarantee that within seconds of opening the book, you’ll be calling out to whoever’s within shouting distance, informing them that Cluedo was invented in King’s Heath or that England’s largest gooseberry was grown in Harborne in 1875.  SO

The Little Book of Birmingham is published by The History Press, £9.99.

The Ringer
by Greg Hunt

Alvechurch bell-ringer and chartered surveyor Greg Hunt, from Barnt Green, has just published his first novel, set in South America, the Alps and Portsmouth.

Archie Malcolm is a student, working for the Navy and looking for love. He’s also a bell-ringer at the local cathedral. When he’s tasked with reducing the rise in illegal substances entering the UK, he embarks on a journey that takes him to the Alps.

The mission brings him closer to home than he could ever imagine and brings him into conflict with former friends and those he loves.

Will Archie discover the truth behind the corruption on his doorstep and bring down those responsible? Will his friends save him or be his downfall?

The Ringer is a fast-paced action novel with a gripping plot and an ingenious bell-ringing story thread. Inspired by authors such as Dan Brown and Jeffrey Archer, it will be enjoyed by fans of action adventure novels.

The book is available from or from the author on 07860 937469.

New books from the Bantocks

Hail, Salubrious Spot!, former Barnt Green resident Gavin Bantock’s account of his village childhood, proved so popular that a second print run has now been commissioned.

Meanwhile, Gavin has published his first novel, written in 1975. The Old Woman of the Sea is set in 1950s North Wales, though many characters are from the Midlands. Available via Gavin’s website, you can also buy it as a Kindle ebook at

Gavin and his brother Cuillin are also publishing Third Form at St. Claire’s, a spoof of Enid Blyton’s 1940s girls’ school series which they wrote in the late 1950s with their late sister Lucy. Illustrated by Cuillin and under the pen-name Enid Bantock, this will also be available at

Finally, Cuillin is re-editing Never Lukewarm, originally a family-only memoir about his grandparents, composer Sir Granville and Helena Bantock. This coincides with the launch of the new Granville Bantock Society, which is seeking new members – info at

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