A birth, a death and a hint of madness

A birth, a death and a hint of madness

Bridget gives birth to a book

Bridget Jones is a diarist who has arguably become as well-known as Samuel Pepys and her latest exploits have been made into a film that has been very well received.

Unusually for most, even for fictional characters, the movie has been released before the book, but then Bridget is not a girl to be conventional. As with the previous Diaries the author Helen Fielding wrote of the pregnancy of the famous singleton in her diary column in The Independent.

Bridget Jones, we know from her previous novel Mad about the Boy, has become a mother, but in this out of sequence book, we go back to when she was first pregnant. In her usual chaotic style nothing is straightforward and the father is one of two of her previous suitors. In this book (I haven’t seen the film) Fielding recycles the original cast and despite being older Bridget is certainly no wiser and I have to confess I am a little irritated by her lack of maturity.

But then the author is unlikely to damage the affection for her creation by allowing her to mature. The female equivalent of Peter Pan, Bridget is as much a woman of her generation as Betty Boop was of hers in 1930s.

But whatever she lacks in judgement she is still an endearing character and readers can be throughly entertained by this novel.

Bridget Jones’s Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding was published by Vintage on 11th October in Hardback RRP ú12.99

Rebus – you can’t keep a good cop down

I know John Rebus through the television series, but when I heard the author Ian Rankin read from this new novel at a literature festive earlier this year I was eager to find out more.

Rankin has shown us Rebus as a retired detective who cannot let go of his mission to rid Edinburgh of unpleasant criminals and solve murders. He is a sick man suffering from a lung disease due to his years of smoking and poor diet. When put on a health regime by his girlfriend we are surprisingly given a glimpse into the frailties of the hardened policeman, who has never let his personal life get in the way of a good collar.

Now a couple of years into his retirement, Rebus finds himself drawn into a cold case from the 1970s involving a female socialite, found dead in a bedroom in one of Edinburgh’s most luxurious hotels. It’s a crime which is over forty years old, but until that date no one had ever been found to be guilty.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, with an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatening his position. With his knowledge of the city’s sleazy underbelly Rebus uses his contact both in the criminal fraternity and those of his in the police reveal what had really happened all those years ago. Truth and justice can be quite different concepts in the minds of Rebus and his colleagues.

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, Rankin and Rebus are at their unstoppable best. This is the 21st Rebus book so I have a lot of catching up to do.
Rather be the Devil by Ian Rankin is published by Orion RRP £19.99

That way Madness lies

Madness have been strutting in and out of my musical life since they formed in Camden Town 40 years ago.

The seven-member Ska band were one of the most prominent acts of the late 1970s and 1980s and, after a brief break up, came back on a huge wave of affection in 1991 with the release of a compilation of their singles. Madness have had 15 singles reach the UK top ten and one UK number one single “House of Fun”.

There cannot be many who of us who can sit still when they hear the saxophone introduction of “Baggy Trousers”: I have fond memories of dancing to this with some quite elderly guests at a wedding in Spain. And who could forget the rendition of “Our House” from the roof of Buckingham Palace during the Jubilee concert in 2012.

So it is with great delight I have been listening to their latest album Can’t Touch Us Now, released on 28th October: 16 tracks of fun and instantly recognisable music. Madness fans will not be disappointed and may even, like me, appreciate the delightful maturity of their lyrics. Suggs sings about the simple aspects of real life: the upright Mr Apples (track 3) who leads a secret life; Pam the Hawk (track 13) who has a gambling problem; are two prime examples. Of course behind it all is the humour of Madness and the premise that life should be fun.

And fun this album is, interesting use of instruments, syncopated beats, and clever twists that make this a record that is a musical scrapbook of the music that is Madness.

The band are touring from 1st December and from experience I know they will be well worth seeing. As consummate entertainers they will give us what we want on stage as they do in this album.

Can’t Touch Us Now by Madness is now available on the UMC label from all good music stores.