Upcoming appearances

Now that 69ers has been successfully launched, I’ll be making some personal appearances to promote the book. On June 4th (2.30pm), I’ll be at the Hay Festival in the Hexagon: though this session is devoted to one of my recent books for children, I’ll have copies of 69ers with me and will be happy to talk about it informally afterwards – and sell it of course!
On June 27th I’ll be over on the Isle of Wight for what promises to be a great evening at Newport Waterstones (starting 7pm). I’ll be giving readings from the book, then it’ll be over to some local talent to give us some Dylan songs. I’m hoping to arrange a couple more events in the area and will advertise them if and when they happen.
It wasn’t an easy choice to publish this book myself after twenty-seven years being published by the likes of Hodder, OUP, Penguin and Heinemann, so I shall be most grateful to my readers for getting reviews online and spreading the word that this is a well readable book, which of course it is!
To buy a copy from me at Amazon, click on the cover to the right. It will be available in bookstores also: the Welsh Books Council has agreed to distribute it within Wales, and all other stores are able to order it. I see it is even available in India, at a very reasonable price, and am happy to have had fan messages from Alaska, where an enterprising library got hold of it before I did!
There is a facebook page for 69ers, though I haven’t done much to promote this yet, so please join if you like the book.

STOP PRESS: Waterstones Southampton West Quay is now confirmed for Thurs 30 June. I’ll be signing books there from 12 to 2pm.

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69ers launches on Dylan’s 70th

69ers will be launched, as promised, on Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday, Tues 24th May. The launch will take place at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, at 7pm. I should have copies by Friday 20th, however, so it’s worth putting in an order now by going to my bookstore on Amazon. Check out extracts from the book here. Unfortunately the horrendously embarrassing sex scenes aren’t suitable for posting, so you’ll just have to buy the book to read these!

Check out the archives here if you’re new to the site, and have a look at the videos – especially the French tv documentary which gives such a unique insight into the 1969 event.

If you know anyone who may be interested in 69ers, don’t forget to send them a link!

69ers is on its way

69ers is now in production and should be ready for sale in about a month: I haven’t decided the exact launch date yet, but it will certainly be before Dylan’s 70th birthday as planned. The cover is shown here (click for larger image) and I’ll post details of where the book may be purchased shortly.

30 years since Lennon’s death: another IOW veteran

Today marks the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death. It’s worth mentioning in passing that Lennon was also at Woodside Bay in August 1969, sitting on one of those wooden chairs in the VIP area as his friend Dylan took the stage. Rumour had it that the Beatles might actually be up there with Bob (Dylan mischeivously stoked that expectation).

Here is the opening passage of 69ers, which also features JL:

“Standing in the dock at Southampton,
Tryin’ to get to Holland or France,
The man in the mac said, you got to go back,
You know, they didn’t even give us a chance”

The Ballad of John and Yoko was widely derided as the worst Beatles single to date, but Scott liked it. Not only did it feature two misunderstood outsiders against the system, but it also namechecked Scott’s home town, unaccountably overlooked by composers despite its evident charisma as Britain’s greatest passenger port, the city of Spitfires, first and only port of call of the Titanic, original departure point of the Pilgrim Fathers and unwitting harbour of the Black Death.
Yes, Southampton had a lot to answer for, besides the scowling handsome boy at Scott’s side whose Dansette tinnily blared the Beatles’ recent charttopper. Gerry was still fuming at Scott’s idiocy, buying an old-fashioned canvas tent from the Army and Navy which weighed so much that Gerry was forced to carry both the haversacks, also canvas, frameless, and themselves backbreaking, all the more so because of the Philips EL3302 cassette tape recorder within, the key to Gerry’s future, one of sufficient wealth and fame to net the girls of his frequent wet dreams.
Not that Scott saw it like that. He was merely concerned with posterity and spreading the messages which would surely change the world, just as the target of their flimsy microphone had predicted.
Meanwhile the old world stubbornly held out, in the shape of an endless stream of Minis, Cortinas, Imps and Heralds cutting off the grammar school fugitives from the Red Funnel terminus and their ultimate destiny.

The senseless oppression of the Jesus-like Lennon at Southampton Docks was apparently caused by the fact he wanted to travel on the France ferry without a passport. His wait was finally ended by the arrival of a private jet.

69ers and Bob Dylan’s 70th

Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday is on May 24, 2011. With that in mind, I’ve made a radical decision: after 56 titles published by publishers large and small, I am going to self-publish. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the outstanding one is that publishers’ lists are planned so far in advance these days that I’d be lucky to see 69ers out before 2013. The whole process of self-publication, on the other hand, can take less than two months, i.e. in plenty of time for Bob’s birthday, when interest in the 20th century’s most celebrated singer-songwriter will undoubtedly be intense.

As I’ve had such a great response to this site, I’m keen to involve visitors with each stage of publication. For example, I’m currently designing a cover: I’ve enquired about the rights to Roger Jackson’s iconic image from the 1970 Isle of Wight festival. I don’t believe there is a better image to immediately alert potential readers to the content of the novel – maybe someone disagrees?

My initial plan is a print run of just 1000, with the aim of selling most of these online. That’s well short of the numbers my books usually sell, but as I have to pay for all the costs up front, and I am not a millionaire, I am erring on the side of caution. Again, I’m interested in everyone’s opinion, particularly that of writers who’ve taken the self-publication route.

I’ll also be honest about costs. In the spirit of 69 – or some of it – I don’t want to rip people off. I want them to read this book.

Some unique mementos of IOW 69

iow pass 1I’m now about half way through my novel set in the Isle of Wight festival of 1969 – more discussion of that to follow. The work’s been considerably slowed down by the fact I’m moving house and (see article below) the death of my dad, festival electrician Ken Blake. However, sorting out his house and mine has unexpectedly thrown up two rare mementos of the sixties event: an arena pass modified to include all areas (i.e. backstage) and a second pass which I think was probably used to gain access to the VIP area in front of the stage – I was in that area for the Who’s performance (fingers jammed in ears due to the ear-splitting volume). As you’ll see the pass is actually a redundant ticket from the much smaller first IOW festival at Godshill in 1968 – I imagine these must be pretty rare.

I’ve been asked to do a podcast by Ventnor Blog so may visit the island again shortly – when I do I’ll donate the passes to the festival museum at Dimbola Lodge.

iow pass 1biow pass 2biow pass 3b

40 years on – Woodside Bay then and now (edited 1 June due to Sony banning soundtrack)


A – view into car park/west camp field. (Time on video): 0.48, 1.47
B – view from entrance gate into arena: 0.24, 1.52
C – road between arena and disco tent: 1.42
D – view back down Palmers Rd towards Wootton: 1.09
E – view into east camp field: 0.52, 1.21
F – view into field containing shops, info, disco tent etc: 1.30, 1.32
G – view from second gate over arena: 0.32