Friday 5 June 2009

BERMONDSEY BOY by Tommy Steele

To complete this thread I come to Tommy Steele's 2006 autobiography, Bermondsey Boy which is subtitled as Memories Of A Forgotten World.
Tommy Steele was born in 1936 close to the Thameside docks in Bermondsey and this book covers the first 20 odd years of his life.
His father had been a bookie, tic tac man and double for Sir Winston Churchill during the Second World War.
Tommy Steele's childhood was like many others of the period except that he got involved with the racing game at a very young age. Otherwise it was Saturday morning cinema where he enjoyed westerns along with Robin Hood.
Even in anecdotal mode he uses phrases like ' we had to circle the wagons'.
However, he tells from first hand knowledge what it was like to live through London's Blitz and of the tragedies that befell his family at that time. And though he takes us through it he makes the reader feel the emotions of the joys and sadness.
After the war and school he becomes a steward on the Cunard ship RMS Scythia that ran between Southampton and New York. Promoted he joins another ship and recounts his adventures on the cruises from New York to the West Indies.
Though it is in New York that his life direction changes course when he sees Buddy Holly. He learns to play guitar and links up with Lionel Bart and Mike Pratt (the same Mike Pratt who played Randall in the original Randall and Hopkirk, Deceased) a song writing team. Tommy Steele played the 2 Is Cafe that was the springboard for his singing career.
Tommy Steele writes with a cockney accent and, at times, a chuckle in his tone as he recalls instances from his youth.
I found it a pleasent read.

1 comment:

David Cranmer said...

I've enjoyed reading your posts about Tommy Steele. He didn't get as much attention on this side of the pond as he obviously deserved.