For American listeners, perhaps Thomas McGuane requires no introduction. A successful novelist and screenwriter, he is also a regular contributor to the New Yorker. However, part of my motivation in featuring his work here is that he is virtually unknown in Britain.

This episode looks at Tom’s successful move, Missouri Breaks, which starred Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando, plus we cover the novel Panama in addition to 92.

For British ears, a “break” is a national monument, or national park, famous for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Also famous for being the route taken by land to discover the Northwest Passage, which in Britain is seen as a naval challenge to be undertaken by sea. So in America, the Missouri Breaks, the Missouri River and birthplace of Montana need no explanation. A “break” is a type of mountain created by the earth’s crust literally breaking, resulting in sharp, angular block-like cliffs. …


I did a story on WhatsApp earlier this week, and it’s all blown up since then. It turns out the whole world ‘misunderstood’ the new privacy rules on WhatsApp. They’re not actually changing, oh no, and we now have until May instead of February to accept them. But hang on, says the world, if they’re not changing, then why do we need to re-approve them?

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I remain convinced that Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are run by a man-child whose sole aim in life is to get girls. It’s how it all started, this societal f**k-up, and it continues today. …


I started writing these diaries on LinkedIn as an antidote to all the self-obsessed selling that was happening on that platform. Look at me! Look at how my company can fix your Coronavirus issues! It was naked marketing done by rank amateurs. After a few raised eyebrows, my counter-pieces got some great feedback which encouraged me to continue to the end. I wrote daily at first, and sometimes more often, but it gradually fades out towards June. Rather like lockdown itself…

Early March 2020

At the beginning of March 2020 it was not clear that Britain would go into lockdown, as some other countries had, or what sort of lockdown it might be. …


I’ve written before about deleting Facebook and WhatsApp. They are two of my most popular articles here on Medium. But today, as WhatsApp unveils new measures to help them share your information with the Facebook HQ which has owned it since 2014, we consider the grim reality: is there actually any alternative? Yes and no.

I still believe that for normal 1-to-1 text messages, the old SMS system is still the best. It is not run by a single company, so has no single point of failure. It is not run commercially except by your mobile phone network, and you pay for each message, even if you have an “unlimited” allocation included in your monthly fee. …


I loved this book by Carol Ann Lee. I know a fair bit about the Moors Murders, but only recently did I drag the famous Topping book out of the library. It was an account of a policeman’s re-opening of the Moors case back in the 1980s. It’s gripping, but more than one person had some issues with it. Whenever anyone writes a book or makes some money out of the case, especially amongst the public servants who were involved, it attracts negative comments.

Image for post
Image for post

Carol’s book has no such connections or troubles: she is a proper journalist, a proper writer — terms I use advisedly — and brings a genuine warmth to her role of victim counsellor. Even her treatment of Hindley, in many eyes an irredeemable evil killer, there is even-handedness. Why are we so interested in the Moors Murderers after all these years, their guilt beyond doubt, their own lives over? I think there is one reason: they were more like us than we care to admit. Yes, even Hindley and Brady had moments of kindness and generosity, at least to each other, if not to anyone else. …


The 1966 murder of Dr Helen Davidson near Amersham, Buckinghamshire, is the subject of Monica Weller’s cold case investigation. To give you half the answer you’re looking for: yes, she solved the case. And no, no spoilers here.

What Monica Weller also discovered, perhaps to her own surprise, was the extent to which a close-knit market town would close ranks over the mists of a local wood to bury the case. Surprising because New Scotland Yard sent a senior policeman to ‘help’ with the enquiry. Even he couldn’t get to the bottom of anything, perhaps because he was pressured by the Thames Valley Chief Constable, who himself knew the victim well and had helped to cover up a car accident which Dr Davidson had caused some years earlier. …


I have recorded a podcast episode running through the brief highlights of the Claudia Lawrence missing persons case. I did this, even though it is a comparatively recent case, because I was surprised at how effective the police had been in focusing attention on the Thursday when Claudia’s disappearance was reported to them. All of the evidence the police published leaves open the possibility that Claudia disappeared and came to harm the previous afternoon or evening.

I wanted to put together an alternative timeline. The purpose of this is not to suggest that this matches reality, but that the bare facts that have been released to the public, mainly from the police, can be interpreted in different ways. …


Roland Gift has been called many things, and one of those things is “the first black punk in Hull”. He was in a Hull ska band called Akrylykz . It would be easy to think that Roland started his most famous band, Fine Young Cannibals, but it wasn’t quite like that. In Akrylykz he supported the Beat on tour. When Andy Cox and David Steele of the Beat fancied starting a new band, they asked Roland to sing for them, even though he had started off as the sax player for Akrylykz.

FYC are sometimes described as a Birmingham band. Although Roland grew up in Birmingham, his teenaged music-obsessed years were spent in Hull. It is not difficult to see how someone as talented and unique as Roland Gift would make an impact on the Hull music scene. …


It is Christmas 1986 and Caravan of Love reaches №1, only to be knocked off by the inestimable Reet Petite by Jackie Wilson. The Transit Van of Love is where we left the story last time, and sadly the rest of the lyrics of this alternative version, chanted by Hull City fans at Boothferry Park, is lost to the mists of time.

After talking so much about a man named Paul, it is time to talk about Dave.

A man called Dave Hemingway joined the Housemartins in 1987, after the first album but in time to work on the band’s second. A ledger clerk in a famous Hull landmark, Crystal Garage, with its signage made out of 7 red hexagons, each letter of the word “Crystal” emblazoned in silver, it looked like the game board on Blockbusters. Dave joined the Housemartins after Hugh Whitaker left. …


We stay in the 1970s for a look at the career of another Hull musician, Mick Ronson. He’s not widely remembered outside East Yorkshire or the crowd from Monsters of Rock, but in the summer of 2017, Hull’s year as City of Culture, a statue of Mick was installed in Hull’s East Park.

It was while he was painting white lines on the rugby pitches of that park, in 1970, that David Bowie caught up with him in the form of a man called John Cambridge.

John was putting together a new backing band for Bowie and he had Ronson in mind. Incredibly, he had to put great effort into persuading the disillusioned Ronson to put down his white line painting machine and come to London for an audition. Just two days later, Ronson the gardener appeared, on 5th February 1970, with David Bowie on John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show. Yes. …

About

Paul Dettmann

Writer. London, England.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store