Andrea Butcher

Beast

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Film thrillers have stiff competition these days. When you can watch really great box sets with ten or 15 episodes on All 4 or Netflix, trying to cram a convincing story into an hour and a half is a tough commission.

It’s a bit like that advert on TV where a couple meet, get married, split up and divvy up their CD collection in 30 seconds flat. Not too much scope for nuance.

That said, Beast has much to recommend it. The central character Moll, played by Jessie Buckley, is completely engaging and you want to find out more about her.

Waste

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There have been rave reviews in the Guardian and largely positive noises from the rest of the press for the new National Theatre production of Henry Granville-Barker’s Waste.

The play has at its heart a debate about a bill to secure the disestablishment of the Church of England and an attempt by the Tories to form a coalition government. Given recent political history you can see how this might be appealing. We see tensions between sections of the ruling class and the old power of the church. “How’s the wretched capitalist to live?” complains one of the politicians.

Key Markets

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I asked a friend, whose opinion I generally rate highly, what he thought about Sleaford Mods. “I’m glad I went to see them. But I’m not sure I’d go again.”

Nevertheless, in a music scene that often seems crammed full of bands manufactured for reality TV or straight out of public school with shiny new guitars, Sleaford Mods have made a bit of an impression.

Sleaford Mods is Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn, two men in their forties with a line in angry, sweary banter that means newspaper interviews are a sea of asterisks.

Dusty: An Intimate Portrait of a Musical Legend

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I’ve always liked Dusty Springfield. She was born in 1939 just up the road from where I live now in West Hampstead as Mary Isabel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien. Her father was a tax consultant, her mother kept house and they took their holidays in Bognor Regis. Her Catholic parents had a deeply unhappy marriage and Dusty, with her brother Dion, found a release in music.

Northern Soul

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Issue: 
Northern Soul

Many of us grew up in a town like Burnsworth. “Burnsworth is a shithole”, says the graffiti put there by John, the main character, who moves from a no-hope school to a dead-end job with a grim inevitability.

But thanks to a chance encounter at the decidedly uncool school disco, he discovers Northern Soul and a new world of black music, dancing, record collecting and amphetamine fuelled all-nighters.

Concretopia by John Grindrod

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Published by Old Street, £25

I should probably start by saying that I live on one of the concrete, brutalist housing estates that John Grindrod writes about. Before moving there in the 1980s, I had lived mostly in Victorian terraces.

But it didn't take long for the charms of modernism to win me over. With big windows, outside space, clean lines and communal heating it's everything my previous homes weren't.

Words Can Describe

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Abi Grant, Picador; £11.99

To be honest, I didn't really want to read this book. I rather crassly assumed it would be little more than another misery memoir. But little by little the book moved on from the act of rape itself to a wider discussion of the author's life and her experiences.

What emerged was a story of the damage caused by a dysfunctional family, a random act of violence, a sexualised and sexist society, and a battle with the structures of the state for the help and support necessary to rebuild a functioning life.

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