Posted on December 17, 2008 - by MG
Oxford-based radio presenter Bill Heine has his first book out – ‘Heinstein of the Airwaves’. It’s a set of recollections of his years working for BBC Radio Oxford during which he came to see a very different side to Oxford.
Not the Oxford of ‘dreaming spires’ and Inspector Morse and scientific endeavour, but the Oxford of ordinary people and troubled estates and corrupt publishers (Robert Maxwell)…the real Oxford.
I love this book and read most of it in one sitting soon after buying it at the wonderful launch party in the Ashmolean Museum. Of course I turned straight to the one story in which I had participated – the story of how Bill Heine and author Brian Aldiss incurred the wrath of Stanley Kubrick when they tried to show the then-banned film ‘A Clockwork Orange’ at Bill’s movie house, The Penultimate Picture Palace.
That night, I was in the audience, having queued for ages for the free showing of this notorious film. I’d read the novel by Anthony Burgess and was keen to see it on screen. When Brian Aldiss came forward and explained to the gathered audience that Kubrick had sent ‘people’ and an injunction to stop the show, I got up to leave. I’d queued for ages next to and was now sitting beside a quietly spoken young guy who’d told me that he’d watched the film 57 times. He loved Alex, he told me with tears in his eyes. “I feel so sorry for him when he’s being tortured…”
If you know the story of Clockwork Orange, you might understand why this kinda worried me. So, I declined Bill Heine’s offer to the audience that they could stay and watch ‘Doctor Strangelove’.
Bill Heine invited me to co-host his radio show the week that ‘Invisible City’ was launched. Here’s a 3-minute excerpt of the show.
There was a second event to launch ‘Heinstein of the Airwaves’ last week, at Blackwell’s bookshop in Oxford. Bill invited four authors to talk about their books, updating him or retelling stories that he’d coaxed out of them on his radio show. So I shared a platform with adult authors for the first time; Brian Aldiss, Moazzam Beg and Mark Lynas. They told their stories before me; seriously dramatic stuff about dealing with Stanley Kubrick, being unjustly arrested and imprisoned for years in Guantanamo Bay, and almost dying of altitude sickness on a melting glacier (respectively!).
I wasn’t sure how I was going to come across after all that. But light relief and a sneak peek at the beginning of Josh’s journey actually went down very well! And what with Christmas coming up and granddaughters and godchildren and nieces and nephews to consider…we sold lots of copies of ‘Invisible City’!
It made a change for me to be signing copies for adults! Children don’t usually stay to chat…I guess they are shy? But that night at Blackwell’s I was kept very busy and met many interesting new people, including children’s authors and the organisers of Oxford’s new Jazz Festival…who invited me to their launch party! (click on the link to see photos.)