Born OTD in 1934, Cuban-born Jamaican ska & reggae trombonist, Emmanuel “Rico” Rodriguez. Rodriguez was born in Havana, Cuba, & at an early age moved with his family to Jamaica. He grew up there in Kingston, and was taught to play the trombone by his slightly older schoolmate Don Drummond at the Alpha Boys School. He recorded with producers such as Karl Pitterson, Prince Buster, and Lloyd Daley. He was known as one of the first ska musicians. Beginning in the 1960s, he worked with The Members, The Specials, Jools Holland, and Paul Young.

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass…

Following on from The Stone Tide, Gareth Rees’ ‘Car Park Life’, is out now. Car parks: commonplace urban landscapes, little-explored & rarely featured in art and music, yet they shape the aesthetics of our towns & cities. Hotspots for crime, rage & sexual deviancy; a blind spot in which activities go unnoticed. Skateboarding, car stunts, drug dealing, dogging, murder. Gareth Rees believes that the retail car park has as much mystery, magic & terror as any mountain, meadow or wood. He’s out to prove it by walking the car parks of Britain, journeying across the country from Plymouth to Edinburgh, much to the horror of his family, friends – and, most of all – himself.

He finds Sir Francis Drake outside B&Q, standing stones in a retail park, and a dead body beside Sainsbury’s. In…

It’s been said Janis Joplin was second only to Bob Dylan as the ‘creator-recorder-embodiment of her generation’s mythology’. But how did a middle-class girl from Texas become a ’60s countercultural icon? Janis’ parents doted on her and promoted her early talent for art. But the arrival of a brother shattered the bond she had with her intellectual maverick of a father, an oil engineer. And her own maverick instincts alienated her from her socially conformist mother. That break with her parents, along with the rejection of her high school peers, who disapproved of her beatnik look and racially progressive views, & wrongly assumed she was sexually promiscuous, cemented her sense of herself as an outcast. She found her tribe with a group of offbeat young men a year ahead of her, who loved her intellectual curiosity, her passion for conversation, & her adventurous search for the blues.

Although she never stopped craving the approval of her parents and hometown, she left Port Arthur at seventeen determined to…

From heart-stopping accounts of apparitions, manifestations and related supernatural phenomena to first-hand encounters with ghouls and spirits, this collection of stories contains new and well-known spooky tales from in and around Hastings. Drawing on historical and contemporary sources Haunted Hastings contains a chilling range of ghostly phenomena.

From the haunted staircase at Hastings library in Claremont and the singing spectre of Hastings College, to the mysterious witches’…

The novelist Alexander Baron (1917-1999) was born into a working class Jewish home in Hackney, joined the Communist Party as a young man, saw the thick of battle in Sicily & Normandy, & became one of the most admired writers of post-war Britain. His first novel, From the City, From the Plough (1948), was acclaimed as the definitive novel of the Second World War, the first of a trilogy including There’s No Home (1950) & The Human Kind (1953). This was followed by a string of novels about working class life in post-war London, including The Lowlife (1963) a cult novel for many other writers ever since. In recent years his reputation has flourished with many of his fifteen novels back in print. This is the first detailed study of the man and his work.

Susie Thomas has taught Baron’s novels for many years and is the reviews editor for The Literary London Journal. Andrew…

The Iremongers have taken up what was not wanted and wanted it. Clod is an Iremonger. He lives in the Heaps, a vast sea of lost and discarded items collected from all over London. At the centre is Heap House, a puzzle of houses, castles, homes and mysteries reclaimed from the city and built into a living maze of staircases and scurrying rats. The Iremongers are a mean and cruel family, robust and hardworking, but Clod has an illness. He can hear the objects whispering. His birth object, a universal bath plug, says ‘James Henry’, Cousin Tummis’s tap is squeaking ‘Hilary Evelyn Ward-Jackson’ and something in the attic is shouting ‘Robert Burrington’ and it sounds angry. A storm is brewing over Heap House.

The Iremongers are growing restless and the whispers are getting louder. When Clod meets Lucy Pennant, a girl newly arrived…

Born OTD in 1854, Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. In Praise of Disobedience draws on works from a single miraculous year in which Wilde published the larger part of his greatest works in prose the year he came into maturity as an artist. Before the end of 1891, he had written the first of his phenomenally successful plays & met the young man who would win his heart, beginning the love affair that would lead to imprisonment & public infamy. In a witty introduction, playwright, novelist & Wilde scholar Neil Bartlett explains what made this point in the writer’s life central to his genius and why Wilde remains a provocative and radical figure to this day.

Included here are the entirety of Wilde’s foray into political philosophy, The Soul of Man Under Socialism; the complete essay…

First heard on BBC Radio 4. Water is commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage. As news breaks that construction of a gigantic Ice Dock will displace more people than first thought, protestors take to the streets and the lives of several individuals begin to interlock. A nurse on the brink of an affair. A boy who follows a stray dog out of the city. A woman who lies dying. And her husband, a marksman: a man forged by his past and fearful of the future, who weighs in his hands the possibility of death against the possibility of life.

From one of the most celebrated writers of his generation, Stillicide is a moving story of love and loss and…

Born OTD in 1908, Canadian-born economist, public official, and diplomat, John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith’s international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths. As relevant today as when it was first published over 60 years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith’s classic text on the ‘economics of abundance’, lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality. Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous – artificial ‘needs’ created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the economy? Classical economics was born in a harsh world of mass poverty, and has left us with a set of preconceptions ill-adapted to the realities of our own richer age.

And so, too often, ‘the bland lead the bland’. Our unfamiliar problems need a new approach, and the reception given…

Formed OTD in 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in Oakland, California. “A crowd of onlookers gawked from the pavement as four young black men dressed in black leather jackets and berets leapt from a Volkswagen, each of them wielding shotguns with bandoliers strapped across their bodies. The young men surrounded two white police officers who had accosted a black man & had him spread-eagled against a building. The young men did not say a word as the police officers watched them nervously, their eyes fixed on the shotguns. One of the young men held a large law book in his hand…This was the Black Panther Party in ideal action. The real story – the whole story – was both more and less heroic.”

So begins Black Panthers for Beginners. The late 1960s, when the Panthers captured the imagination of the nation’s youth, was…