Book launch for Mad Dogs and Englishness – House of Commons, Westminster, 5 Feburary 2018
[By Dr Carey Feliner – Senior Lecturer in Classical and Medieval History]
My chapter, ‘‘Rosy, Won’t You Please Come Home:’ Family, Home, and Cultural Identity in the Music of Ray Davies and the Kinks’’ (in Mark Donnelly, Lee Brooks and Richard Mills, eds., Mad Dogs and Englishness: Popular Music and English Identity. Bloomsbury Press. 2017 ) is the outcome of a similarly titled conference paper that I gave at St Mary’s University College, London, 21 June 2013, coincidentally Ray Davies’s birthday. An account of that conference is somewhere on the History Department blog (submitted in 2013).
Back in December 2017, we were all contacted by one of the editors about the book launch, scheduled for February. One of the contributors (who also wrote the preface) had moved careers from the time of the conference (lecturer in sociology at Kingston University) to the time of publication (MP – Rupa Huq, (Ealing Central and Acton). So she arranged our book launch to be held at the House of Commons. The editor said that there would be a round table discussion in addition to general mingling, so I wrote to him immediately and asked if I could be considered for one of the panellists. No immediate reply, but about a week before the launch, Richard Mills told me that they’d decided I’d be a good fit with the other panellists. So I got an invitation:
And I RSVP’d in agreement. The meeting was well-populated; probably about 75 people in attendance, journos, writers, MPs, and celebrities. When I was asked my opinion about the war between Blur and Oasis, I had to confess that I’d pretty much missed pop music in the ‘90s as I was out of action doing my PhD work. Ian Paisley’s son told me ‘You haven’t missed much.’
I checked to see if they wanted us speakers to have any opening statements or comments prepared, and was told, ‘Nope, you’re fine, just come along.’ Moments before we were herded to the table at the front of the room, Rupa took me to one side and said that after the introductions, she wanted me to take 15 minutes or so to introduce the book, its main themes, and a bit about my own contribution. I’m told what I said was erudite and witty, and that it set a good tone for the panel to launch with.
It was a bit hectic to be put on the spot like that, but this was fairly mild in comparison to being told that an additional, last-minute addition had been made to the panel. My chapter was on the Kinks and how they were received and marketed as ‘English’ in both Britain and abroad; fortunately there was an actual Kink on the panel (the last minute addition) to confirm my assertions.
Much of the talk was dominated by Paolo Hewitt and Stephen Millinder, but during the milling about part afterwards, quite a number of women came up to speak to me about how the two women in the panel didn’t get much of a chance to speak. So it was a good opportunity to continue the conversation afterwards.
Richard Mills, one of the editors, is a long-time colleague, and we discussed the possibility of a sequel: between the time we held the conference and the time of the book launch, Brexit, of course, happened – it and its subsequent impact have rendered a number of our chapters positively quaint. It would be nice to have a follow-up conference, maybe at Winchester this time around, if there is interest and pocket money to be found to help support it.
Some other photos from twitter:
- This one shows Richard Mills making some closing statements. At the table, me on the far left; Bob Henrit of the Kinks on the far right.
Thanks to our chair @RupaHuq and panellists Carey Fleiner, @PaoloHewitt1, @StephenMal and @TheKinks drummer Bob Henrit for such a stimulating and informative discussion of Englishness and Pop at our book event last night @HouseofCommons
- Picture by Richard Mills, me talking to lead off the proceedings. You can tell I’m saying good things because I’m making important hand gestures.
- Me looking dubious as Rupa introduces the panel
A book, co-edited by three of our senior lecturers, was launched at the @HouseofCommons last week. Find out more https://www.stmarys.ac.uk/news/2018/02/commons-englishness-book …