I.W.T.H. (If Wet Town Hall)

LifeBook editor Kate Parry shares her experience of working on one of her favourite projects.

The front cover of I.W.T.H. (If Wet Town Hall)

I was excited to be assigned a new project for a charming Welsh lady who had begun her career as a pop singer in the late 1950s, but her LifeBook had a rather shaky start. Our private autobiographies can sometimes take a little while to settle into a writing style that the author feels captures their storytelling character, and on this occasion, when the author read her first review, she found that it lacked the warm and conversational tone she had hoped for. The ghostwriter, responding to feedback from the author and to some editorial input, rewrote a sample section of text that we hoped represented the writing style she sought. The author was thrilled with the rewrite, and, with this new style applied throughout, the project went on to be a delight.

The life of a young pop star in the 1950s and 1960s was, it seems, both thoroughly glamorous and surprisingly innocent. This dichotomy created the opportunity for some very funny stories. In her interestingly titled book, I.W.T.H. (If Wet Town Hall), the author tells the story of her parents’ discovery that she is performing in a Soho strip club, of a wig snagged in a tree while performing live at Pebble Mill, of a tape of her great-aunt talking to a budgie which is accidentally submitted to a record company, and of her acceptance of a proposal of marriage from a boy she has just met because she is too polite to say no. All these stories are amusing and witty, but they are also kind and warm. Her wish is to tell her readers not just about how much fun she has had, but to tell them about all the opportunities, support and help she received in her singing career and in her private life, sometimes from quite unexpected quarters.

Every new LifeBook is an adventure and an education for the team involved in bringing it to completion, and this one was particularly enjoyable. Its stories of the music business in the 1950s and 1960s, and its rich and colourful account of growing up in those decades, are vastly entertaining, but it was the author’s vibrant humour, her wish to appreciate everyone in her life, and her warmth and charm that have made this my favourite LifeBook.

Written by Kate Parry, LifeBook editor

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