D & D PHILPOTT – DEAR CATHERINE WHEEL
GOOD DAY BOOKS
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Back in the 1960s there was a series of books that were quite popular. Letters To The President, or Love Letters To The Beatles, in which letters were published that were seen as cute or fun to read. Dear Catherine Wheel is not like one of those. This is a very clever book which includes a brief history of the British Indie scene from the 1980s into the 1990s. One must keep in mind that at the time, and even today, these indie bands were held in high regard and taken very seriously. The Philpotts, with their letter writing campaign, certainly bring a lot of these artists down to earth with their amusing, and at times, downright funny letters. These were letters, written the old-fashioned way, pen to paper with time, effort, and the cost of stamps, to communicate with these artists. To their credit, they responded.
The responses are as funny as the letters themselves. Simon Chesterfield’s response is very inspiring, “we will not be inviting you round to visit our new modern home” is quite funny given the letter “Derek”, who is one of the “Ds” wrote. Also, Hurrah’s “coal powered guitar amplifiers to sustainable sourced peat” is another great response.
Equally funny is The Philpotts’ alternative names that are crossed out. For example, Pigbros is referred to as “Swinesiblings Hamhombres”, although it is crossed out and corrected. These well thought out details make for a fun read. For the most part, the bands don’t even respond to these mistakes, which shows that the artists took these letters in their stride. I am sure there were some ruffled feathers along the way and some not included in the book, but for the most part the letters are taken well and responded to in kind.
Overall, Dear Catherine Wheel is an entertaining book, with proceeds going to a worthy cause, Musicians Against Homelessness. The Philpotts have come up with a new way of looking at an era and a genre and it works on many levels. Fans of the bands, which are far too many to mention but I was happy to see The Woodentops in there, will enjoy this, as well as fans who grew up during this time period.