Ben Watt's father, Tommy, was a working-class Glaswegian jazz musician, a politicised left-wing bandleader and a composer. His heyday in the late fifties took him into the glittering heart of London's West End, where he broadcast live with his own orchestra from the Paris Theatre and played nightly with his quintet at the the glamorous Quaglino's. Ben's mother, Romany, the daughter of a Methodist parson, schooled at Cheltenham Ladies' College, was a RADA-trained Shakespearian actress, who had triplets in her first marriage before becoming a leading showbiz columnist in the sixties and seventies. They were both divorcees from very different backgrounds who came together like colliding trains in 1957.
Both a personal journey and a portrait of his parents, Romany and Tom is a vivid story of the post-war years, ambition and stardom, family roots and secrets, life in clubs and in care homes. It is also about who we are, where we come from, and how we love and live with each other for a long time.
“Neither sentimental nor savage, yet often wise, moving and entertaining within the same paragraph, Romany and Tom is a major achievement to rival any of Watt's recordings” – Guardian
“You know when everyone last month was going 'Ben Watt's Romany & Tom is amazing?' I've just read it. It really is” – Caitlin Moran
“Romany and Tom may be the most beguiling book you'll read all year ... He has a songwriter's gift for the deft phrase, while his powers of observation and recall are quite extraordinary ... Rather like Watt's musical compositions ... this book is at once downbeat and uplifting” – Mail on Sunday
“A poignant, life-affirming work” – Financial Times
“INCREDIBLE … I read it in two huge gulps. It's funny, incredibly moving, beautifully written, really thought-provoking” – Alexis Petridis
“Forget Morrissey: Romany & Tom is the most beautiful, compelling memoir by a musician you'll read for a very long time” – John Niven
“[An] elegantly written and clear-sighted memoir ... Romany and Tom is a tender work infused with the understanding that this is the final chapter of two rich and complex lives ... Watt's reluctance to sentimentalise the experience makes it that much more powerful, cutting to the heart of the frustrations that come with caring for one's parents who were, not long ago, just like us” – Independent on Sunday
“It is a beautiful book, a story which will resonate with many and in many different ways. There are moments when I laughed and parts when I had to stop reading for a bit, draw breath and then continue” – Gideon Coe, BBC 6 Music
“Watt has written about personal trauma before in his 1996 memoir Patient. This … pulses with the same combination of clarity and kindness. Unsentimental and humane” – Telegraph
“Closely observed, brilliantly written and unsparing” – David Hepworth
“As a DJ and one half of Everything But The Girl (with his partner Tracey Thorn), Ben Watt knows better than most the impact fame can have on identity. But in his poignant new memoir, Romany and Tom, he channels that knowledge through his parents' lives” – Harper's Bazaar
If that was enough to whet your appetite, buy it here!