Wolverhampton Literature Festival review: Alan Johnson on song with new book

By Sarah Cowen-Strong | Wolverhampton | Entertainment | Published: | Last Updated:

As if the life of postman turned politician Alan Johnson wasn’t fascinating enough, he has now brought out a new book tying in more memories with some of the best songs in the past 70 years.

Alan Johnson appeared at Wolverhampton Art Gallery

In My Life is the latest in his award-winning series of autobiographies which have, rightly, earned a keen fan base.

Combine that with the magnetism of the former Labour health, home and education secretary and it’s easy to see why there was nearly standing-room early for his appearance at the Wolverhampton Literature Festival.

WATCH highlights here

Alan Johnson recalls tales from his life and career during Wolverhampton Literature Festival talk

And how lovely to see city MPs Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds not only in the front row but taking selfies and clearly enjoying themselves and supporting this political legend.

Alan’s performance was mesmerising.

Whether talking about his 15-year-old sister’s fight to keep the two of them together when they were orphaned in the early 1960s, or his battle to empty a postbox in the middle of a group of Bay City Roller fans in the 1970s, he kept the audience spellbound.

GALLERY: See pictures from the event


His stories were woven into a soundtrack of Frank Sinatra, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, The Lovin’ Spoonful and, of course, the Beatles, causing the pin-drop audience to tap their feet and join in.

He talked about his own musical career, his first guitar, and the pop revolution that saw Nellie the Elephant swiftly shown the door with the arrival of the Fab Four.

Heads nodded in agreement when he talked about the salvation of radio’s Two-way Family Favourites which gave youngsters the chance of hearing something other than PInky and Perky and the Bachelors.

One of the best questions from the audience saw Alan pondering the best song to sum up the current political climate.

“19th Nervous Breakdown” came his immediate reply. This man knows his stuff.

Sarah Cowen-Strong

By Sarah Cowen-Strong

Journalist with the Express & Star and Shropshire Star

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