From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Sunday Swoon. May 12th 2013.

with one comment

Due to gallivanting around Dartmoor and Brixham and lack of internet access this is more of a fortnightly round-up.

1. The first book I read as an East London resident was A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper. An honest and frank account of growing up poor in 1920’s from the voice of an ordinary man. No romanticising the past. It could have been wrote by my Dad from the stories he’s told me and he read the entire book in a matter of hours when I passed it on to him. A beautiful message in the book and interesting to read about the streets that now surround me.

“Be thankful that you were born now and not then. Go forward, but try to be tolerant of your parents along the way”. A.S Jasper.


2. If you ever find yourself in Torbay the only place to have seafood is Simply Fish in Brixham. Menu is dictated by availability from the boats straight in from fishing at a quarter of the price you’d pay in London. Queues rival that of restaurants such as Meat Liquor. My favourite dish is their Tempura Cuttlefish (pictured above). Managed to fit three visits in during my visit home.

3. Janelle Monae is back with Q.U.E.E.N featuring Erykah Badu. Adore everything about this woman and still lament the day I got sidetracked by an ice cream van playing 90’s dance music at Glastonbury and missed her. Makes me want to quiff my hair and deal in monochrome only.


4. Before the Devon adventures and in between moving house I managed to sneak in a couple of trips to Pick Me Up London. Just as inspiring, inventive and batty as it was when I first attended last year. I’d highly recommend signing up to the mailing list so you don’t miss out on it next year.

5. Hot on the heels of (the superior, let’s face it) Daft Punk comes a new track from Basement Jaxx which really minds me of Friends Va Fan Gor Du. Getting my dance on.


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  1. This is just to let you know that A Hoxton Childhood has been republished by Blinding Books and we’re launching the book at Broadway Bookshop in Hackney on Wednesday 9th October at 7pm.
    The author was my great-uncle and it’s a family publication to air his brilliant memoir now that the centenary of WW1 is approaching. It’s a sobering read, as you know, but I think most people, and especially children, can take a lot from reading how things were only a hundred years ago.
    All the best
    Richard Penny
    Blinding Books

    Here’s the press release…..

    For immediate release
    Blinding Books
    6 Willow Court, Woodlands Road, Guildford GU1 1AR
    Tel: 01483-455452 Mobile: 07828 875865 Website:

    A Hoxton Childhood by A S Jasper, an important working-class memoir ISBN: 9780956781116
    What happens when Dad’s a calamitous boozer and spends all his money down the pub, when Mum has five other children and spends most her free-time on a sewing machine making clothes to pay the rent, when you don’t know where you’ll be living from one day to the next, when bombs are raining down and disease is everywhere, and when you come out of school, chances are you’ll have to go out scrounging to earn your next meal?

    A S Jasper answers all these questions and more with animated gusto in A Hoxton Childhood (144 pp., rrp. £5.99), a thin volume of memoirs depicting life in a London slum during the First World War, seen through the eyes of a child. Jasper won an Arts Council award for this, his first literary work, for which many critics chose to elect him ‘the East End’s first native voice’.

    When it was first published in 1969, Harry Whewell of the Guardian wrote, ‘An absolutely riveting account of life packed with incident in a London slum…Unlike Dickens and Hogarth, Mr Jasper neither sentimentalises nor moralises. He is content to leave his tale unvarnished and he is right.’

    A Hoxton Childhood was widely reviewed by national newspapers and hailed as the best working-class story since The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Jasper’s dry-voiced, open-eyed account allows the reader direct access into the unbelievable poverty the East End endured a century ago. He knew very well that a harder, more visceral tone would have left readers with the same sense of apathetic indifference to the undeniable injustice as that shown by the upper- and middle-class of the time.

    Jasper may have been an uneducated writer, but he certainly knew how to ignite the imagination of all age groups. For the older generation, A Hoxton Childhood was produced in Braille and large print. Pergamon brought it out as a school reader after an Emeritus Professor of English wrote from the West Country, ‘I think it should be compulsory reading in every school to remind the young that progress not only has to be fought for, it has to be earned.’

    Chaim Bermant, a reviewer with The Observer who knew the East End as well as anyone, wrote in 1969, ‘A Hoxton Childhood is Zola without the trimmings, and if anyone should feel this is an extravagant claim let them read this book.’
    To place an order for the book, please contact Gardners or order directly from Blinding Books:

    Richard Penny (A S Jasper’s great-nephew) Blinding Books, 6 Willow Court, Woodlands Road, Guildford GU1 1AR Mobile: 07828 8758655 Phone: 01483-455452
    e-mail: Website:
    25% of all profits from this 14th impresson of A Hoxton Childhood to go to Railway Children, a charity that specialises in helping runaways and street children in the UK, India and East Africa.

    Richard Penny

    August 18, 2013 at 6:18 pm

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