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"Our Kid". Reading ‘Our Kid’ was a very moving experience! I was born in Salford (1932) and so you can understand my deep emotion at reading your wonderfully written, deeply touching, extremely heart-warming memoirs.

Congratulations!

John Sherlock, (Hollywood screenwriter and producer) Dublin

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Many thanks for sending me a copy of 'Our Kid'. Since the loss of my wife a couple of years ago, I have not been able to read a book (lack of concentration or interest). However I have not been able to put yours down. I hope this will now let me carry on reading.

I too sat my entrance exams in 1939 and can therefore relate very closely to Billy having come from a family of similar background. Bread and Dripping for tea or toast if lucky. Skimming TRB cards (cigarette cards) or even the round tops off the bottle of milk which we used to get at school. So Many memories. Thanks once again.

Peter Baker, Bolton, Lancs

 

Dear Billy,

Many thanks for the letter and the life and times of ‘Billy’ Hopkins, the young ‘un. Delighted with both, but fascinated by the book.

Working class AND Catholic upbringing between the wars have remarkable similarities, wherever located in urban communities in these ‘ere United Kingdoms of Scotland and England. Am convinced the strong Irish immigrant population was largely responsible. My own Scottish parish was greatly influenced by Irishness.

What would today’s youngsters make of it all? The religious duties; the tartars who taught us; the over-crowded homes; the coal-fired kitchen ranges; domestic chores; cobbled street; soot and smog; eking out poor pay for long hours of hard manual work - if it could be found? I could go on.

Suffice to say that ‘Our Kid’ is a smashin’ book. It’s funny. It’s serious, It’s heart-warmin’ and heart-breakin’. It’s fact. It’s fiction.

It awoke in me so many memories of: Church Latin; religious education; school life; bullies; pastimes; family rows; pals; escapades; day-dreams; ambition - and the war.

I admired your dialogue and selected quotation both scholastic and popular. Am also glad that Billy caught the train from Central Station. A very rewarding read. Thanks Billy and more power to your pen (word-processor?)

Dan Murphy, (Retired Teacher) Manchester

 

Dear Sir,

I have just finished reading 'Our Kid' by Billy Hopkins and I write to say that it would make a wonderful Christmas present for it is most nostalgic, sad at times and funny too and is about the growing up in the 30's and 40's of a working class boyhood.

It is styled as a novel - partly true; partly fiction, but a must for those of us who love to have memories of the past - and for me who served in the forces 1940 to 1946. A book that I just could not put down, and felt better for having read it. I hope that you may find space to print my letter so that others can share my enjoyment.

Yours very truly,

Rev. DOM. Bede Vela, OSB, Prinknash Abbey, Gloucester

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

I must say how much I enjoyed ‘Our Kid’. I read it quickly within two days of receiving it, and then took it with me to Turkey, to read more slowly and to savour. I think it is every bit as good as Roddy Doyle’s ‘Paddy Clarke, Ha’Ha-Ha’ which won the Booker Prize, a couple of years back. Your book deserves to be very widely acclaimed.

Please send a copy of ‘Our Kid’ to a good friend of mine, who was born and bred in Hendham Vale and who attended St. Chad’s. I’m sure he will be enchanted by it.

Sincerely,

Joan Kennedy, (Retired Teacher) Manchester

 

November 1997

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Please forward two copies of ‘Our Kid’. I half read my mother’s copy (she got it out of Manchester Public Libraries) when the team was playing in Italy recently. Enjoyed it so much I thought I’d better finish the book and so I’m ordering my own copy and one for a friend.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Kidd, c/o Manchester United Football Club, Old Trafford, Manchester

 

Dear Sirs,

Could you please send 4 further copies of your book ‘Our Kid’. We have sold the last 3 to diners who read it whilst awaiting for their table and we have had a few more enquiries.

c/o San Rocco Ristorante, Manchester

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

I have recently finished reading ‘Our Kid’. I cannot remember when I enjoyed reading a novel so much.

Sincerely,

John Spence, (General Practitioner) Sutton Coldfield

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Many thanks for the copy of 'Our Kid' which you sent on to us so promptly. My husband and I found some parts of it very amusing and other parts very sad but it was all immensely interesting and we were amazed at how many of the memories of those days were so similar to our own.

I can remember for example, the street games such as Queenie-0-Co-Co, struggling home to my grand'ma's with the re-charged accumulator for her wireless set, religious inspection days, divi-day shopping expeditions to the Downing Street Co-op, and holidays spent in Alex Park with jam butties and a bottle of sarsaparilla for a picnic. On the latter occasions I would invariably have our own 'our kid' and her perambulator in constant tow - even whilst trying to participate in activities such as tig or hide and seek. I can also remember returning to an utterly transformed Manchester in August 1940 i.e. just in time for the blitz - after a year spent in Ireland because my mother thought it was imperative that I should come back home to 'do the Scholarship' even if it meant that I might literally have to die in the attempt. I am enclosing a cheque for £39 for three further copies which I should like you to post on directly to the intended recipients. (Addresses given)

Yours nostalgically,

Anne Higgins, St. Albans, Herts

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Congratulations on an excellent book. I laughed and cried, it was so delightfully warm and funny. When is the sequel coming out? My husband Angus is reading it for the second time and thoroughly enjoying it again. I finished reading it in Bangkok en route for Phuket. I am not very quick with books, but thoroughly enjoyed finishing it whilst on holiday.

Sincerely,

Anne Greenhalgh, Sorrento, W. Australia

 

Note from, Angus Greenhalgh:

My second reading of books is usually for people like Wilbur Smith and even then only after several years. The fact that I am reading ‘Our Kid’ again after only a few months should give you some idea of how much I enjoyed it. I have never heard Anne laugh and chuckle as much when reading a book in all the 35 years of our marriage. We can’t wait for your next one.

Angus Greenhalgh, Sorrento, W. Australia

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Enjoyed ‘Our Kid’ thoroughly. Read it in two days flat. Hardly paused for breath.

Sincerely,

Bill Mowbray, (Retired Headmaster) Lot et Garonne, France

 

Dear Sir,

Today I received the copy of ‘Our Kid’ which I ordered as a Christmas present, but on glancing through it quickly, I have changed my mind - I will keep it myself!

Will you please send me two further copies for which I enclose a cheque for £25.98.

Many thanks,

Mrs K. Kelly, Liverpool

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Thank you very much for sending the copy of your book. I look forward to reading it, but fear I shall have to wait a while as my husband has just picked it up and won’t part with it now. He knows Collyhurst well, so is intrigued to read all about it.

Best Wishes,

Fiona Haslam, Bolton, Lancs

 

Misfortune in the shape of flu, icy roads and burst pipes has stopped me from reading 'Our Kid' earlier - but now I am able to say how much I enjoyed it. Please let Mr. Hopkins know this.

I lived in London during the years of which he writes and so much is similar; and although life was not easy there was much happiness to remember. It’s hard to imagine today’s children who, in the main, have so much, in future years looking back with such nostalgia.

I think the ending was just right - but it would be nice if Mr. Hopkins could be encouraged to write more.

Yours sincerely,

E. Latchford, W. Harrow

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Thank you for writing ‘Our Kid’. We have thoroughly enjoyed it. Our daughter read it first. She lives in the Chester area and was attracted by the title as she’d heard her dad call his younger brother ‘Our Kid’ many times. She then passed it on to us. Tom is a great reader but I’ve never seen him so engrossed in a book before! He re-lived his childhood and could identify with the characters, their activities and all the places mentioned. He and Norman were evacuated to Fleetwood and better treated than ‘wot Billy wos’. Billy’s Mam and Dad remind him of his Aunty Frances and Uncle John, who lived in the same area, and had seven children. Tom is now 67. The little lady on the book cover looks like his mam! I was enthralled to read about his childhood way of life (some of which he has spoken about) - entirely different to mine spent in the suburbs of Ormskirk! I have only lived here for 37 years. Recently on holiday we met the new General Manager of Heaton Park on holiday and again at the presentation of the £4 million Lottery award. The park holds happy memories. It is being improved but security is a high priority these days. The Footprints verse on Page 501 is a favourite of ours. We hope you are well, Billy. Have you written other books? We would greatly appreciate a reply from you.

All good wishes,

Sincerely,

Tom & Edna Wright (and June Cooke-Fox), Manchester

PS Tom asks ‘Is there a possibility of a follow-up?’

 

Dear Billy Hopkins,

Nearly finished Our Kid, and enjoying it immensely; you have a remarkable recall, or have done a lot of research (or probably both). It brings back so many memories. In Geordieland - as you know - "our kid" or in the vernacular "wor kid" means the eldest son, so the Geordie youngster who when bullied shouts "I’ll set wor kid on ye!" means "I’ll get my big brother to wallop you!". Interestingly, the Geordie demanding something for himself translates "Give it to me" as "Giv it tiv us" but if it is for himself and others, then "Give it to us" becomes "Give it to wer!" - and "We will do that" becomes "Us’ll de that!" whereas "You will do that" is "Yee’ll de that!" unless the "you" is more than one, when it becomes "Yeez’ll de that!".

A lovely language. I do enjoy being bilingual!

Yours,

Denis Cashman, (General Practitioner) Tyne & Wear

 

Dear Sirs,

Would you please send me ‘Our Kid’. I grew up in How Bridge, Atherton, Lancashire from the mid-30s to the age of 18 in 1954. My brother Eric - 2 years my senior - always called me ‘Our Kid’.

Enid Hutchinson, Decatur, Georgia, USA

 

'I read 'OUR KID' on the train and I laughed so much I was getting funny looks'.

Johnny Kennedy, Catholic Pictorial

 

'This rag-to-riches tale recalls wartime boyhood, is packed with nostalgia, filled with laughter and often tinged with pain. It is compelling and difficult to put down.

Robin Hull, (Professor of General Practice) Strathtay, Scotland

 

'I work at Waterstones at Manchester Airport. I reckon we have sold more copies of OUR KID than any other shop (about of 3,500+). It is still one of our top twenty best-sellers - no mean feat especially as it isn't a new title. I checked totals today and it is our best selling title ever, beating the likes of Harry Potter and David Beckham.'

Lynn Wilson, Manchester Airport.

 

'I'm a Tunisian girl and I usually read Arabic and French books but OUR KID is one of the greatest books I've ever read. I have fallen in love with Billy. Unfortunately I'm only twenty-four.'

Amel Jaoua, Tunisia.

 

'I picked up OUR KID at Manchester airport on the way to Tenerife. The best holiday of my life, mainly because I read your wonderful book. Have since read the other books and feel privileged to have shared some of your life.'

Suzanne Masset, engineer, Manchester.

 

'Bless you for having written OUR KID.'

Ron West, Burlington, W.A., U.S.A.

 

'I cannot thank my friend enough for introducing me to your books. Keep up the good work, Billy.'

Janette Smallwood, Oldham, Lancs.

 

 

'May I say how much I enjoyed reading OUR KID but at the same time I found it unnerving. It could have been my own autobiography.'

Professor David Peck, Tomich, by Cannich, Inverness-shire.

 

'I'm reading OUR KID and can't wait to finish this marvellous book so my husband John can read it. S'wonderful! Thank you for bringing those memories and times back to us.'

Helena Stafford (Toronto, Canada)

 

'Half way through OUR KID. Fantastic! Very funny and I have bought the next book so that I don't get withdrawal symptoms. Much more entertaining than ANGELA'S ASHES'

Joanne Morris.

 

'Just got back from Majorca and confess that until now I have never read a complete novel from start to finish for 30 years. Picked up OUR KID. I was glued to it for the whole holiday!'

David Simpson, Blackpool.

 

 

 

 

 

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