Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew
An ex-journalist and social worker, Bernard Hare returns home to the East End of Leeds where he encounters Urban Grimshaw, a pre-pubescent glue-sniffing lad, and his group of friends who have dropped out of society and mainly live in a shed. Though they have their own codes to live by, the fabric of their lives is frequently interrupted by drink, drugs, teenage pregnancy and violence. What makes this a great empathic read is Bernard Hare’s unflinching view of himself and the not-entirely-blameless role he plays in Urban’s life and the outlaw world of the Crew; fond of drink and drugs, he initially meets Urban Grimshaw through a short, ill-fated relationship with the boy’s mother, someone who only a man unfazed by pub fights and tattoos would consider sleeping with. These two imperfect men- skinny Urban and fat Bernard, or ‘Chop,’ as he’s known by the Crew, become like father and son, with Bernard opening up the joys of games, childhood and the countryside to Urban while continuing to behave, as he puts it, like ‘Mr Chips on smack.’ An important reminder that you don’t need to be perfect, or even responsible, to change someone’s life.