Reading reviews of your own work is, perhaps, never a sensible thing. Responding to them, probably, is even worse a thing to do.
Nevertheless, having done the first of these things, I’m about to do the second.
Maybe I’m not very sensible.
People are always, always, always entitled to their opinion – about anything. It would be an utterly stupid person who would assume that anything they did would be greeted with nothing but exultant adulation. But perhaps some things should be addressed.
While there’s probably not much the dictaphone app on my phone, my interview transcripts and the people with whom I spoke can do to fight off allegations about dubious sources (or maybe there is), maybe something can be said about the view that Do It Yourself is simply the story – hagiography even – of Billy Childish and friends.
I don’t think it is.
As I readily admit throughout the book, Billy Childish is a divisive character. As, to a lesser extent, are some of his contemporaries.
But whether you like him or not, whether you love The Prisoners, The Milkshakes or The Daggermen or loathe them, you can’t really deny that they had a very important role in the history of music in Medway.
Do It Yourself: A History of Music in Medway is just that: a history. It will, by definition, dwell on the past – whether parts of that past appeal or not.
The best thing for those intrigued by Medway music of today, as some reviewers of the book have said, would be to go out and see some bands. Most definitely. You’ll find no argument from me there. The Homespun Festival is coming up in July and will be the perfect opportunity to do just that. I’ll be there and I hope you will too.
But if people are curious to find out what made Medway the vibrant musical place it is today, it might be interesting to dig around the rich past of the music from the area.
While there is, inevitably, a fair bit of time devoted to Billy Childish, Graham Day, Wolf Howard et al in Do It Yourself, there are many, many other bands and artists mentioned, lots of them very, very current. See, for example The Flowing, Funke and the Two Tone Baby (see video), Theatre Royal, Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society, Didi Bergman, That Massive Bereavement, Broken Banjo and countless other acts that have appeared on Medway Eyes compilations.
And there you have it: the case for the defence. If you want to know what’s happening now, a history book might not be the best place to turn to; if you want to know why it’s happening now, maybe looking to the past isn’t such a daft idea.
You can buy Do It Yourself: a History of Music in Medway direct from the publishers Cultured Llama’s website.