Remember the Olympic opening ceremony and how the lights kind of stole the show? Well, the man responsible for those billions of LED’s that brought tears to the eyes of 27million people was Patrick Woodroffe, a lighting designer who loves a good thriller. In his 30 year career Patrick has designed show-stopping displays for The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, 10cc, Depeche Mode, and – intriguingly – “existing monarchs, hip-hop performers and desert sheiks.” He divides his time between a house in Bath and a boat in London – making sure he has his prized books, some even doubles, at both locations.
Without further ado, here are Patrick’s most treasured publications, accompanied by a rather gripping commentary…
The 9/11 Commission Report
After the immediate horror of 9/11 had passed, and like many others I suspect, I became fascinated in how such an extraordinary operation could have been put together by the terrorists, how the authorities responded, and what really happened on that day. The report is well written and reads like a thriller, cleverly leaving the technical detail to a very thorough appendix of which half the book consists. This allows for a vivid sense of the real-time unfolding of the events as they happened, all told verbatim by the people who took part – from air traffic controllers, policemen and fireman, to passengers and all the other characters who were bit players in the tragedy. The book is a fast and furious journey from the early morning of September11 to the days and weeks afterwards, with actual dialogue and detail taken from the many hundreds of depositions and eye witness reports that were collected by the commission. Fascinating and enlightening and also deeply sad.
The 9/11 Commission Report
John le Carré Compendium – John le Carré
I have all the le Carré novels in my library at home in Bath and then a select few doubles here on the boat. They never disappoint and somehow on re-reading you cannot quite remember what comes next and the surprises still surprise me. Every character is beautifully drawn and in the early books especially, a grey pallor suffuses all the word pictures that le Carré paints for us. He’s some sort of genius.
Narrow Dog To Carcassonne – Terry Darlington
As a boaty, I sometimes fantasise about giving it all up and heading off down a gentle flowing river or canal without a care in the world. For the moment though Terry Darlington does it for me in this thoughtful, original and laugh-out-loud record of a trip to France on his narrow boat, with his whippet Jim and his long-suffering wife Monica. I really might do it myself one day. I will, I will….
Terry Darlington: Narrow Dog To Carcassonne
The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer
The reading of this heavy volume passed in a moment for me. It is the extraordinary and chilling story of the life and death of Gary Gilmour, and his long journey from a damaged childhood through prison cells and courtrooms to a squalid ending in a brightly-lit prison store-room where a firing squad took retribution for his crime some years later. It’s a tale of the tawdry sadness of small lives but is also as wide as the clear Utah skies under which a lot of the story is set. Above all it is a story of America and Americans told by one of their great authors.
Norman Mailer: The Executioner’s Song
The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones – Stanley Booth
I’ve worked for the Stones for over 25 years, so there is an obvious fascination at seeing them in this earlier part of their career. This record of the famous 1976 tour of the Americas takes place during a very different period and is very different experience of my time with the band. Then it was different, and how! This record by Stanley Booth, a young Californian music journalist, is full of the drugs, violence, Machiavellian dealings and intrigue that surrounded the group then. As an insider it’s interesting see the view painted by an outsider, but what is most fascinating is to see how the character of the main protagonists and their relationship with each other has changed little throughout the years, although their behaviour has.
Stanley Booth: The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones (Canons)
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