Chas and His Rock 'n Roll Allotment - by Chas Hodges

Some of you may not know but I like a bit of rock’n roll – and I even have a band named after me! (Mels AllStars – look them up!).  Combining that with my love of my allotment gardening, it was no surprise that my last birthday yielded this book in my gift pile.  I was pleased – having only recently noticed the book on Amazon myself. Jumping right in for a good read (I happened to spend my last birthday almost entirely on a plane, so had time to kill), I was impressed to read a glowing introduction from Jools Holland.  However, it didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Firstly – does Chas (of Chas ‘n Dave) really qualify as “Rock ‘n Roll”?  Not in my book I’m afraid.  Embarrassing “Dad rock” at best!  But I could forgive him that – after all I wasn’t reading the book to hear about life on the road with the cheeky cockney duo.  What about the gardening?  Well, to be fair, Chas DOES have some good gardening tips (although you do have to wade through a lot of off-topic stories and rants to get to them).

The good  –  I liked the guy – despite never being a fan of his music.  The book is a down to earth, one man’s ramblings about his plot, his favourite veg and how he grows them.  You know those books that explain how to do something and just make you feel stupid?  Not Chas.  Like his section on the use of the rake:  “Generally, f**cking about with a rake gets your plot looking good. Look at the lumpy soil, then look at the rake.  You’ll get the idea as to what needs to be done”    Certainly felt he would be a fun plot neighbour anyway.  He tells it like it is from his own experience – no theory – just what he did and how he did it and whether it worked.  Interspersed with slightly mad, but mildly entertaining stories about his life.

The bad.  The mulch puns.  And there are lots of them! A whole page of song titles about mulching “Whole lotta mulching going on”, “Blowing in the Mulch”, “Mulch of Kintyre” – you get the picture (though probably like me you don’t quite get the point).  Also, whe n he isn’t swearing you have to get to grips with the fact that his book is written in the vernacular.  Its all “ain’t and innnit, and cos and nothin” and cockney rhyming slang and somehow it just doesn’t work properly on the page (though I suppose it would be odder to read Chas writing in the equivalent of received pronunciation).

The ugly.  Depending on your sensitivities – it may just be the language.  I wasn’t offended – in fact I found it funny (my language can sometimes be incredibly colourful) but some people, just don’t want to read that many f-words, c-words and the like.  And in this book you can’t get away from it.  Right from the start.  Swearing at vicars, discussion of bodily functions, wearing his wife’s knickers – as I said it’s down to earth!

Overall – I wouldn’t rave about this book.  If you are a fan of Chas and Dave you might enjoy the insight into his life. And if you like a bit of earthy language – you definitely won’t be disappointed.  But otherwise – I’d say save your money.

Chas and His Rock ‘N’ Roll Allotment is available from Amazon and many book stores. On the upside it is now significantly reduced from the original hardback price!

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