Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Finchley in Fiction - Part Two

Continuing on from last week, I have found some more links to Finchley in Fiction:

Mr. Finchley is a fictional character in three comic novels by Victor Canning (unfortunately no relation to me), a novelist who later gained great success with thrillers. He first appears in Canning's very first book, Mr. Finchley Discovers his England, published in 1934 and as Mr. Finchley's Holiday in the USA in 1935.

Scoop is a 1938 novel by the English writer Evelyn Waugh, a satire of sensationalist journalism and foreign correspondents: ‘That evening, Mr Salter, foreign editor of The Beast, was summoned to dinner at his chief’s country seat at East Finchley.' What a wonderful title for a newspaper, we've had more than enough Beast reporting leading up to and beyond the Election.

Bluebottle, a character in the 1950s BBC radio series The Goon Show, hails from East Finchley. Peter Sellers, who played Bluebottle, lived in the area at one time.

The Monty Python's Flying Circus comedy sketch, The Funniest Joke in the World (1969), is set in Finchley. The premise of the sketch is that the joke is so funny that anyone who reads or hears it promptly dies from laughter. Please don’t laugh while reading this!

The Russian poet Joseph Brodsky wrote a poem c 1978 with the title 'East Finchley', but it's been quite difficult to find a copy. Finchley Boy, Allen Ashley leads a poetry workshop with an astronomy theme. Sun, Moon and Planets is aimed at writers of all levels. Find out more here.

In the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan Pevensie says that she and her siblings, Peter, Edmund, and Lucy, are from Finchley, despite no mention of Finchley being made in C. S. Lewis's book

In Ben Elton's Blind Faith (2007), loosely based on Orwell's 1984, the setting is a flooded London: '[Finchley] was not an easy place for Trafford to get to, as it involved crossing Lake London with his bicycle and disembarking at the Paddington jetty …'

Two for Sorrow (2011) by Nicola Upson takes place in East Finchley being about the notorious Finchley baby farmers and is a traditional detective novel using Josephine Tey, a real writer(!), to investigate a modern day killing. A bit odd to use a real writer as your fictional detective and I do wonder if she pulled it off.

At last year's Finchley Literary Festivel, we were very lucky to have Caitlin Davies as one of our speakers. The Ghost of Lily Painter (2012) is also about the baby farmers of East Finchley. Davis' exhaustive research shines through all her novels, plunging the reader into a literary time machine. You can find out more about her research and writing here.

One summer’s night, while drunkenly crossing Trent Park Golf Course, Hal Maybury, errant husband, ale drinker and Finchley resident, finds in a canyon where the 17th hole should be something that will change his life forever and something that London will never forget. (And no it wasn’t Brian Coleman) Hal is the protagonist of The I AM, (2012) by Robert Samuels.

Foul Deeds And Suspicious Deaths In Barnet, Finchley And Hendon (2009) Nick Papadimitriou chooses over 20 notorious cases that give a fascinating insight into criminal acts and the criminal mind. It seems as if there has been a lot of murder in Finchley both in real life and in fiction. If you'd like to find out about crime writing join Murder in the Library, a Finchley Literary Festival workshop that stimulates your imagination, gets your plot in a twist and kills all your enemies on paper only.

Another crime and another writer, Mark Billingham mentions Finchley in Bloodline (2010). Emily Walker is found beaten and suffocated with a plastic bag in her Finchley home, she appears to be the victim of a domestic dispute.

Moon over Soho (2011) by Ben Aaronovitch mentions Finchley, “Jerry Johnson was one of the latter type of non-Londoner, born in Finchley in 1940 by the grace of God and died in a bungalow on the outskirts of Norwich…”

Finchley wouldn't be the same without a mention of John Betjeman, who was the first Patron of The Finchley Society. Betjeman, along with Spike Milligan fought to save Hawthorndene, the historic house at the entrance to Strawberry Vale Estate. When congratulating the society on saving the building, Betjeman wrote: “Long live Finchley and its sudden steep hills, tree-shaded gardens, and memories of a civilised prosperity.”

Spike Milligan lived in Finchley and Finchleyites hold him in very high esteem, I really can't do justice in a few lines, but join Paul Baker, a qualified City of London guide, who leads a special Finchley Lit Fest walk to find out more about this Finchley hero. More details here.

Kate Atkinson mentions Finchley numerous times in 'Life After Life' (2014). The protagonist, Ursula’a sister lives in Finchley. We have a huge amount of literary talent in Finchley, if you'd like to listen to some local authors reading their work, then join us in Finchley's only literary cafe, Cafe Buzz for a Celebration of Local Writing


Wonder Women (2013) by Rosie Fiore-Burt, mentions Finchley nearly twenty times, possibly because the protagonist, Jo lives there! Rosie joined Caitlin at last year's festival along with Miriam Halahmy and Alex Wheatle. Alex is back this year, appearing at Waterstones to discuss his highly acclaimed new YA novel Liccle Bit (2015). Alex will be joined by two other YA writers, find out more here.

And finally, Mike Carey’s Girl with all the Gifts (2014), has what is soon to become a famous scene as well as a re-enacted scene, artsdepot in North Finchley, overrun with zombies, filming began this week. If you want to find out more about this unusual book, come to the Finchley Literary Festival, taking place in Finchley with lots of Finchley authors and possibly a few zombies....

If you’d like to learn more about literary Finchley, do come along to one of the FLF events and say hello.

1 comment:

Rosie Canning said...

NB: After part one of Finchley in Fiction, Lindsay Bamfield pointed out that Speech Therapists had been trying to rid themselves of links to elocution lessons for many, many years. Possibly it was unfortunate that I linked these two very distinctly different words together. I really did mean that Lindsay has impressive oratory skills and that she was also a speech therapist of some years and standing.