Blue Genes – Les Lacey
BLUE GENES... The story of Josh, a remarkable Staffordshire Bull Terrier seen by many as having special qualities distinguishing him from others. He was adored by dog lovers at shows and attracted many glowing compliments... as well as astronomical offers for him. The attribute making him different from all but a handful of dogs was his colour, known in the breed as blue, but in truth a deep slate grey. BLUE - THE COLOUR OF CUPID’S DART Blue was not the colour for many breeders and judges who shunned Josh in shows, often without reason. But josh continued to turn heads wherever he went, and broke hearts throughout the world. BLUE GENES charts Josh’s life from him becoming part of a family in Walsall in the West Midlands, through his show career, the illness that proved difficult to diagnose, and the almost star treatment he received, with him appearing on a calendar, in a video, in a book, and as a model for a porcelain figure. BLUE GENES is a story of loyalty, and commitment and of jealousy and prejudice. Above all however it is a story of a family’s love for the pet they’ve chosen to care for, demonstrating that animals, as well as people can be inspirational. As such BLUE GENES is a story for pet owner and non pet owners alike.
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Five Minutes Love – Carol Hathorne
The first part of nationally acclaimed author Carol Hathorne’s autobiography, Slurry & Strawberries was published by the Black Country Society in 2002 and covered the early years of her Tipton childhood. Carol went on to write a further two parts, Bread Pudding Days, and A Woodbine on the Wall covering her teenage years. In 2006, The Kates Hill Press brought out Five Minutes Love, bringing together in one volume all three parts of this incredible story. Now available in paperback, Five Minutes comprises:- Slurry & Strawberries tells of life on Tipton’s Lost City Estate. The early and junior school years of a working class up bringing depicting the warmth of family life set against a backdrop of social deprivation. Bread Pudding Days moves the story on to senior school, travelling to Wednesbury, broadening horizons, new friends and old truths. A Woodbine on the Wall covers the rite of passage era in which a young woman and a writer emerges. At turns moving, endearing and funny, Five Minutes Love is a must for anyone interested in the social history of the Black Country.
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Stories of the Old Black Country Volume Two – Clarice Hackett
He's a bit on the big side, even for a pit-bull." The landlord in The African Pit- Bull Six more short stories vividly bringing to life the Black Country of times gone by. THE AFRICAN PIT BULL recalls the days when dog fighting was common. THE ARRIVAL OF THE QUEEN OF SHEBA set in more recent times, a canalside tale. FALLING IN LOVE WITH DAISY and LOVE AND LYDIA are love stories of a different kind. TAMING THE BULL, a Black Country version of an old folk tale. WHAT A GAME tells of a ladies football team--in the 1920s.
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Black Country Stories and Sketches – Greg Stokes
"I've had a basinful. Low wages, filthy conditions, while you lord it over us… er… me." Rodney Tumeley in The Glorious Revolution A colourfully written collection of 29 short stories and word sketches reflecting aspects of Black Country life, past, present, and future. Includes the much admired "Christmas Card to Lev" in which the football fans of Dudley undertake to send greetings to the Russian goalkeeper who delighted the Molineux crowd in the 1950s; "The Minor and the Miner's Son" which takes the reader from the steps of Wembley 1968 to the bitter miner's strike of 1984; "The Glorious Revolution" set in the future when the only industrial workers left are in the heritage museums; the haunting "On Leave"; the hilarious "Baldwin's Monument"; the melancholy "Boy in the Basement"; "The Blue Teapot" recorded for people with visual impairment; and many more. For full synopsis click here.
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The Gulf – Greg Stokes
"The decision to bring Fatima to London had been taken a while ago. Still no sign of pregnancy, she would see a consultant gynaecologist in Harley Street in the morning." From Two Teenagers, a story from The Gulf. A collection of 29 short stories from the pen of Greg Stokes set in the oil rich Gulf state, the United Arab Emirates, and England’s Black Country when the coal has gone and industry is in decline. The is a stark gulf between the two locations and the two cultures. But the title story, The Gulf, shows their histories to be very similar with local lords fighting over land which held mineral wealth they weren’t aware of. The next four stories span both countries and move at turns from presidential palace in Abu Dhabi to council tenement in Smethwick, from expensive clinic to children’s home. The remaining 24 stories are in pairs, one set in Arabia and one in the Black Country, which look at common themes such as would be artists, local elections, royalty, and feuds. Like all Greg Stokes’ work, some are full length stories while others are snapshots of people, places, or events. Some look at the expat lifestyle, while others look at the local culture which westerners find difficult to fathom. At a time when there is fear of Islamic fundamentalism in the west, Stokes, who lost his father to such extremism in the Reagan/Thatcher war on terrorism, paints a picture of a religion with a huge welfare principle and a people who, while we might not fully understand them, are not to be feared at all. For full synopsis click here
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The Grant – Greg Stokes
Modern Art debunked mercilessly by four Black Country characters created by Greg Stokes. Recorded at Rocket Cottage Studio in West Bromwich, hear Black Country Theatre perform two of Greg Stokes' hilarious Les and Sheila stories on this CD. In 2003 the Baggies played Newcastle in the Carling Cup so Greg and family went up for the match, taking in the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in the morning.  Never a fan of modern art Greg penned The Grant the following month.  In this story the lead character decides to build a garden shed and stick it in an art gallery.  The announcement of the 2005 Turner Prize short list saw a garden shed in with a shout.  To show that we in the Black Country thought of it first, the Kates Hill Press decided to bring out a CD recording of the story. The big difference between us and the Turner Prize people is of course that we know that we are taking the piss! The CD also includes The Grant Part 2 in which Des and Steph apply for an Arts Council grant. They are joined by a Belgian woman who also applies in order to build a bird's nest on the side of the Rotunda in Birmingham. This really did happen! The Big Apple which was on an earlier version of this CD will be released soon on another recording.  
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Second City Stories – Greg Stokes
'In the lifetime of one government, decades of relative prosperity dissolved as even the mighty west midlands went down the tubes.' From Popper States in Second City Stories A collection of 29 short stories from Greg Stokes all set in England's second city, Birmingham. Greg writes; "I was born and bred in the Black Country, the old, and some would argue the first, industrial region in the English west midlands. There are as many definitions of what exactly constitutes the Black Country as there are people in it. There is one commonality however, it ay bloody Birmingham. Birmingham is our next door neighbour whom we are first to deride, and first to protect if the insult comes from further afield. As with all neighours, we know each other well. I have worked there, courted there, and married into a Brummie family. There is far more that binds us together than the banter would suggest drives us apart. There are differences however. Birmingham is a huge city of a million souls and at one time a thousand trades. It is truly the regional capital, and the second city of England, with all the facilities that go with that. It has evolved into a vibrant international city of the twenty first century. The politics of the late twentieth century however, the politics of Thatcher, put Brum and the Brummies under the cosh. The process of social engineering has been continued under Blair’s New Labour. Sometime in the mid nineties I decided that I’d put together a collection of stories all set in Birmingham. While the stories range from the Victorian period to the present, there is a theme through to book that highlights the nastiness of Thatcherism as it affected the city, and the society that Blair, son of Thatcher, is perpetuating. Some of these stories were written back in the 1980s." For full synopsis click here.
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The Bawdy Bloody Black Country – Carol Midwood
"Young Will Taylor should never EVER have shagged Sarah Dunn..." From Bold William Taylor. Carol Midwood has taken the songs of Black Country Night Out legend Jon Raven depicting the seemier side of 19th century Black Country life and converted them into a fine collection of short stories. The bawdy tales include Nine Times A Night and The Buxom Dairy Maid. The bloody tales include The Wednesbury Cock Fight and The Tale of Trubshaw and Green. But they are all Black Country tales and they are all side splittingly hilarious. A must have title for all lovers of Black Country humour.
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