Thursday 10 December 2015


Author Alan Jones is on the blog today, offering his thoughts on his favourite music, books and films.

Alan Jones is my pen name, as I need to keep working to pay the bills, and I wish for the time being to remain anonymous.
I've read and enjoyed both of Alan's books so far - The Cabinetmaker and Blue Wicked and he has previously participated in a Q+A session for the blog here. (Note to self  I must resurrect this feature soon, not sure I've done one this year!)

I do like other people's lists - being far too lazy to compile ones of my own!


To be Someone - The Jam
Pretty Vacant - The Sex Pistols
Teenage Kicks - The Undertones
Up the Junction - Squeeze
What can I say about the first four? I was 17 in 1977. It was a great time to be into music.

Common People - Pulp

Just when music got a bit stale for me, along came Pulp

Hurt - Johnny Cash
Old men can sometimes still sing - my favourite Johnny Cash song, although his cover of 'Bridge over troubled water' with June Carter came a close second

Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
It was this or Creep. Both phenomenal.

Lay Lady Lay - Bob Dylan
That big brass bed.

Atmosphere - Joy Division
Some say he couldn't sing but I say sheer genius.

In the Ghetto - Elvis
I had a friend who had a much older sister. In the early 80's she dragged us to working men's clubs all over Yorkshire to show us some 'real' music. Fantastic people and they loved their Elvis!


This is the hardest category to narrow down to ten!

Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
Has everything - My favourite book.

Shogun - James Clavell
At over a thousand pages, it's still riveting the whole way through.

Mila 18 - Leon Uris
Based loosely on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Gripping.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Ian Fleming
Totally underrated and so unlike the films. This one shows a side of Bond you'll never see at the cinema.

The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Best book we did in English at school, narrowly beating Lewis Grassic Gibbon's 'A Scots Quair'

Papillon - Henri Charriere
I don't read much non-fiction, but this reads like fiction.

Presumed Innocent - Scott Turow
My favourite legal thriller

Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham
I love speculative sci-fi, where it could just about happen. This is a classic example.

A Town like Alice - Neville Shute
The Cruel Sea - Nicholas Monsarrat

My dad gave me a stack of books to read when I was about 11. The last two books on my list were among them. Both authors are out of vogue but fantastic storytellers, in an old-fashioned way.


I think it's Meryl Streep's best, and a great performance from Cher

Not as good as the book, but what film is?

The Shawshank Redemption
Sorry, this one is.

Godfather 1 - 3
Not cheating if you watch them all back to back

The Deerhunter
My favourite Vietnam War film.

The Life of Brian
Funniest film ever. When it was first released, we had to travel outside Glasgow to see it because the city council banned it!

Pale Rider
My favourite Eastwood film by a very small margin. Could have chosen any from six.

Apollo 13
A cliffhanger ending in a film of a true story?! Magnificent film-making.

Bull Durham
Fireworks between Sarandon and Costner. Then she got together in real life with her other co-star, Tim Robbins, and broke my heart.

Thanks to Alan for sharing his selections.

Alan Jones has his website here. You can catch him on Twitter - @alanjonesbooks.
He's also on Facebook here.

Not sure if Blue Wicked is one you want to read? Dip your toes in the water first with a sample - here.


  1. Some of Alan Jones' selections are my favourites too. I'm glad he mentioned Nevil Shute, a wonderful writer. Thanks, Col.

    1. I can remember seeing Nevil Shute books in near enough every book store of the 70s, less so Monsarrat. I've never read either I'm afraid.

    2. Prashant, I agree. I've read them all. Trustee from the toolroom is a little gem too, about a very extraordinary ordinary man.

    3. Alan, I particularly like his books set in Australia including "Beyond the Black Stump" and "On the Beach."

  2. Interesting interview - thanks, both. I agree with a lot of those film and book choices, too.

    1. A few of the music choices I liked, but probably wouldn't have in my top 10. Re the books I've read and enjoyed 4 of them, but they aren't standouts for me.
      On his films, I saw some of BULL DURHAM recently and thought it hadn't really aged well TBH, I enjoyed it more first time around. Not yet seen any of THE GODFATHER, shamefacedly!

    2. Thanks Margot. Writing under a pen-name is a real pain. This is a nice way of sharing a little of myself with my readers, who I appreciate more than I can say.

    3. Writing under a pen-name is a real pain.

      Too true!

  3. Col, thanks for the review and being part of the tour. There might be more than a little nostalgia with the books and the tunes. But the books are well worth reading.

    1. Alan - you're welcome mate.
      I'd go with GET OVER YOU for the Undertones and maybe SUBMISSION for the Pistols - I love Lydon's vocals. I had the Squeeze single as well - pink vinyl if my memory serves me well. Elvis has to be SUSPICIOUS MINDS, though I think the FYC version is amazing.

      Steinbeck, Charriere, Wyndham and Welsh have all been read. QBVII was pretty powerful from Uris. Turow and Fleming are on the pile.

      I loved SHAWSHANK and DEERHUNTER, but would add PLATOON to my list of Vietnam films. With Clint I'd go for UNFORGIVEN or MILLION DOLLAR BABY or GRAN TORINO.

      I'll see if I can rustle up a SHUTE or MONSARRAT one day!

    2. Couldn't fault any of those choices, Col, but do you realise just how long I agonised over these lists.....

      Although his later films are more powerful, I still prefer Clint's earlier stuff when it was more tongue in cheek, though.

    3. That's the thing - I don't think I could limit myself to 10 from each category as it would change on a daily or weekly basis. It would have to be a top 50 or 100!

      I think I prefer Clint's later stuff. I think PLAY MISTY FOR ME kind of put me off - I thought it a bit weird.

  4. I read a lot of Leon Uris when I was younger, so I must have read Mila 18. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was also a favorite of mine. Shawshank Redemption and Apollo 13 are also favorites. And The Godfather movies. An interesting mix of favorites from Alan. Music I don't know too much about, but I do love Johnny Cash.

    1. I've only read the one Uris and nothing from Fleming yet! Not a massive fan of the "Man in Black" though I did like the film of his life with Joaquin Phoenix.

  5. Entertaining lists - and more items than I expected were familiar to, and liked by, me.