Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

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Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

Back in the Day: Melvyn Bragg's deeply affecting, first ever memoir

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Above all, however, it is a warm look back on a life flavoured with the realities of life in England’s north-west and of a hard working student’s pathway towards academic success.

I’d have got into local government or gone down to the factory and worked in its accounts department or been a junior clerk. His new memoir, Back in the Day, focuses on his early life and is a remarkable portrait of a childhood and adolescence, a family and a community.I loved the story about falling in love with Sarah and their sexual explorations, fear of pregnancy which is so familiar to people of that generation.

Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer View image in fullscreen ‘Pulling pints is a little knack’: Melvyn Bragg photographed in London, February 2023. This wonderfully authentic and often moving account of Bragg's childhood up to the time he leaves for university, is a heartfelt celebration of family life in a working-class community during the 1940s and 50s.

Melvyns words carried me back to a Wigton of my own fathers time , growing up myself in Tenters only yards from the Blacky pub I felt a real connection with the places and people Melvyn spoke so fondly of . I am biased: I have lived in Wigton since 1992 and taught for 26 years at the very school that Melvyn attended.

Clearly the book brings back so many of my own memories but I am sure any reader will enjoy this real life story of growing up in a much loved place with much loved people.One of the generation of working- and lower middle-class children for whom a post-war grammar school education was the key to unlocking a future far beyond what their parents and grandparents had ever been able to aspire to, his impact on the cultural life of the UK from the Sixties until now has been immeasurable. Setting the speed to 80% and listening to sections several times does make it possible to hear the lines.

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