The Vagaries Of Swing (Footprints on the Margate Sands of Time) by Mac Carty
|The Vagaries Of Swing (Footprints on the Margate Sands of Time) by Mac Carty|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A thought-provoking and occasionally hilarious memoir about life, death and cricket. Oh, and Margate. Recommended. Mac Carty popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 200||Date: March 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Mac Carty tells us that the catalyst for The Vagaries of Swing was the BBC television series True Love which portrayed a series of romantic encounters all set by the sea in his home town of Margate. But Carty has taken the original idea - about relationships between people - and run with it, extending love into passion, say for cricket, or (at the other end of the scale) as a human encounter which ends in violence. Whilst the television series might have been the catalyst for the book there was another and probably more compelling reason. When his friend Mike died he realised that he had no one with whom to share his fund of stories about growing up in Margate, all of which had been revisited on a regular basis and usually over a pint. I've just read the result.
It's a simple format. Take a quotation, run with it and see where it takes you. The quotations defy classification - I've just opened the book at random and revisited William Randolph Hearst, Ghost Riders in the Sky, John Mortimer, Robert Louis Stevenson and T S Eliot. Each piece is relatively short - usually only a few pages - and conforms pretty much to the sort of discussion you have with someone you know well and who has access to that shared fund of memories. The talent lies in the fact that the reader never feels excluded. You'll soon feel at home with the cast and wish that you were there so that you could agree, disagree or contribute your own story.
It's said that if you can remember the sixties then you weren't there, but Carty very definitely was. His life - and that of his friends - revolved around cricket, hockey, alcohol and girls. It was about being irresponsible and living for the day. He has the music (oh, that brought back some memories) and the feeling of the decade. There's a darker theme runs through the book though and it's about violence to women, because one August day in 1965 a sixteen-year-old girl was murdered in Dane Park. The reaction from the cricket team was annoyance because the police investigation prevented access to their pitch, but Carty's felt more drawn to what happened as he's researched the subject. From there he's moved on to the general subject of violence against women whether it be on an individual basis or because it's condoned by religion.
Before I started reading the book the author told me that it was a bit blokish. You know, I think he thought I might be offended, but the humour is directed against men and with the intention of making them think about violence, but there's nothing gratuitous. It's thought-provoking, for men and women, and made more so by the fact that it's balanced by some brilliant humour, whether it's the one-liners (the short skirt that's six inches below sea level) or the regular riffs on the organisation of the celestial cricket teams.
Don't try and read it all at once, not least because it's printed in under-forties font - if you're over forty your eyes might struggle. It's a book to savour and think about. Read it in order though - as there is a development to the themes threaded through the book and you'll get a lot more from it. I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For further reading I'm going to recommend a book favoured by our author: Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties by Peter Hennessy.
You can read more about Mac Carty here.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Vagaries Of Swing (Footprints on the Margate Sands of Time) by Mac Carty at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Vagaries Of Swing (Footprints on the Margate Sands of Time) by Mac Carty at Amazon.com.
Mac Carty was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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