Romany and Tom: A Memoir

By Ben Watt

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction 2014

Ben Watt's father was once a working-class Glaswegian jazz musician--a politicized left-wing bandleader and composer--whose heyday within the overdue Fifties took him into the glittering center of London's West finish. His mom, Romany, the daughter of a Methodist parson, was once a Shakespearean actress who had triplets in her first marriage sooner than turning into a number one showbiz characteristic author and columnist within the '60s and '70s. They have been either divorced and from very diversified backgrounds, they usually got here jointly at a fateful New Year's Day occasion in 1957 like colliding trains.

Romany and Tom is Ben Watt’s sincere, occasionally painful, and sometimes humorous portrait of his mom and dad' extraordinary lives and marriage, depicted in a private trip from his personal wide-eyed London formative years, via years as an grownup with youngsters and a profession of his personal, to that inevitable aspect after we needs to suppose accountability for our personal mom and dad of their previous age. Spanning numerous decades--and drawing on a wealthy seam of kinfolk letters, souvenirs, pictures, public records, and private memories--it is a shiny tale of the postwar years, ambition and stardom, kinfolk roots and secrets and techniques, vast band jazz, melancholy and drink, lifestyles in golf equipment and nursing houses. it's also approximately who we're, the place we come from, and the way we adore and dwell with each other for the lengthy term.

Show description

Preview of Romany and Tom: A Memoir PDF

Best Memoir books

Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road

You will not see no unhappy and teary eyes while i am getting my wings, and it is my time to flyJust name my pals and inform them there is a get together, come on bySo simply roll me up and smoke me while I dieIn Roll Me Up and Smoke Me while I Die, Willie Nelson muses approximately his maximum affects and celebrates the kinfolk, associates, and associates who've blesses his impressive trip.

Bad Kid: A Memoir (P.S. (Paperback))

Jam-packed with the track and pop culture of the late-eighties and early-nineties, this refreshingly sincere and hilarious coming-of-age memoir from comic, storyteller, and The Moth host David Crabb tells a universally resonant tale approximately starting to be up homosexual and Goth in San Antonio, Texas. In the summer season of 1989, 3 Goth little ones crossed a road in San Antonio.

Living My Life (Penguin Classics)

Anarchist, journalist, drama critic, recommend of contraception and unfastened love, Emma Goldman was once the main famous—and notorious—woman within the early 20th century. This abridged model of her two-volume autobiography takes her from her birthplace in czarist Russia to the socialist enclaves of Manhattan’s decrease East aspect.

What's That Pig Outdoors?: A Memoir of Deafness

 Henry Kisor misplaced his listening to at age 3 to meningitis and encephalitis yet went directly to excel within the such a lot verbal of professions as a literary journalist. This new and improved variation of Kisor's engrossing memoir recounts his lifestyles as a deaf individual in a listening to global and addresses heartening alterations during the last 20 years end result of the american citizens with Disabilities Act of 1990 and developments in cochlear implants and modes of verbal exchange.

Extra resources for Romany and Tom: A Memoir

Show sample text content

My ma and pa have been dwelling in Oxford, the place they’d been due to the fact that promoting the relatives domestic in Barnes in south-west London on the finish of the eighties. My dad used to be seventy-five. He’d smoked a packet of twenty cigarettes an afternoon with no filters for 50 years until eventually he used to be approximately seventy, and used to be now spending such a lot of his time sitting in a eco-friendly leather-based armchair overlooking a nondescript city stretch of the river with an oxygen tank inside of effortless succeed in. His mattress have been moved right into a room at the comparable ground and he hadn’t used the steps in weeks. while he coughed, it was once a condensed and heavy sound. His surgeon had him on bronchial asthma inhalers; it sounded worse than that to me. ‘Your father’s low,’ my mum may say. ‘Not a notice all day. ’ a few mornings he wouldn’t even wake up, or back to his mattress after just a couple of hours – twenty-seven shuffling footsteps from his armchair – like a ill puppy to its basket. My mum was once seventy-six. powerful but weary. ‘We can’t move on like this,’ she acknowledged bleakly at the mobile to me one night. ‘Well, he can, yet I can’t. ’ I knew we have been at a fork within the highway. Oxford have been a shock option to many of the kinfolk – the explanations purely grew to become transparent to me later – and whereas my ma and pa had loved greater than twelve years of self-sufficiency, we have been now all realising it used to be in the course of nowhere in comparison with the place the remainder of us have been dwelling: Roly was once north of Bristol; Jennie, my half-sister, was once close to Glastonbury; Toby, my half-brother, was once close to Esher in Surrey; Simon, my eldest half-brother, was once in Edinburgh; and that i used to be in London. None folks have been able to reply quick to an emergency, or come out for a few helpful procuring, or casually drop around for ethical aid. It used to be additionally now not misplaced on me that Tom was once my father, no longer theirs. even supposing he’d been of their lives on account that they have been little ones, he used to be simply their stepfather – strolling in out of nowhere earlier than they have been ten. It appeared transparent which course was once in entrance of me. etc a hot and nonetheless morning a month later my mum stuck the educate as much as London to view a few attainable apartments for her and my dad close to us. name me hopeful, yet as I climbed – elderly thirty-eight – into the automobile to gather her and drove alongside our highway, underneath the flickering sun and shadows of the tall overhanging lime timber, I imagined i used to be making the force to work out them for the 1st time in a brand new flat close to me, and the instant appeared jam-packed with hazard and alter for the higher – of changing issues and getting ameliorations taken care of out – as if the entire years of hardened paint that overlaid us should be scraped away to bare the unique wooden that made us up, mellowed with age and whole of a forgotten heat. I must have identified larger. there has been a well-known heaviness to her step as I glimpsed her coming in the direction of me alongside the commuter-filled platform at Paddington. She was once jogging the self-aware solemn stately march I had obvious her undertake so frequently in public, her form mirrored within the home windows of the little blue-and-white Thames rapid convey teach from Oxford.

Download PDF sample

Rated 4.85 of 5 – based on 14 votes