Pete Paphides – Broken Greek: A Story of Chip Shops and Pop Songs

“Do you sometimes feel like the music you’re hearing is explaining your life to you?” Music journalist Pete Paphides talks about his heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written coming-of-age memoir.

When Pete’s parents moved from Cyprus to Birmingham in the 1960s, they had no money and only a little English. They opened a fish-and-chip shop in Acocks Green, where Pete learned about coin-operated machines, male banter and Britishness.

Shy and introverted, Pete stopped speaking from age four to seven and found refuge instead in pop songs. From Brotherhood of Man to UB40, from ABBA to The Police, music provided a safety net from the tensions of his home life and the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rod Hull and Emu. With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifying to him: his parents were Greek, but all the things that excited him were British.

Broken Greek won the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021 and was featured on BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.

“Fantastic … Can’t recommend it highly enough.” Tim Burgess

“An exceptional coming-of-age story.” Marina Hyde

“Lip-lickingly, dance-around-the-living-room good… A smash hit.” Observer

“Paphides has made a career out of music writing, and his skills in that field have long been clear. But here, he does something much more singular, describing the deep impact music can have on a particular sort of child, long before they are aware of the codes of cool that dictate what one should and shouldn’t like.” The Guardian

Pete Paphides started his career in music journalism at Melody Maker before going on to write for Time Out, the GuardianMojoQObserver Music Monthly and The Times, where he spent five years as their Chief Rock Critic. He has made several documentaries for BBC Radio 4 and has been a regular contributor to BBC Four music documentaries and hosted two series of ‘Vinyl Revival’ for BBC 6 Music. Since 2015, he has hosted a weekly music show for Soho Radio and also runs his own record label, Needle Mythology. He is married to the writer and journalist Caitlin Moran. Broken Greek is his first book.

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