The Rotters Club – Teen Angst in 70s Birmingham

If you asked me to name my favourite book, I could do it quite easily. ‘The Rotters Club’ by Jonathan Coe is a coming of age novel set in 1970s Birmingham, complete with teenage crushes, ‘prog rock’, meals at the Bernie Inn, and the horror of the Birmingham Pub Bombings. The Rotters Club will make you laugh, make you cry and make you smile, and it has now been bought vividly to life by The Young Rep, the Birmingham Rep’s Youth Theatre.

The action starts in 1973 and follows the high school life of Ben Trotter (or Bent Rotter as he is more commonly referred to). Ben is a pupil at King William’s school for boys, a bright lad with a talent for writing and an initially unrequited crush on Cicely Boyd. Ben has an older sister, Lois, who is looking for love and gives the play its most tragic aspect, and close friends Doug and Phil, who share his love of music and writing. We follow the story through the 1970s, through the power cuts and industrial action, through the music of bands like Hatfield of the North and the coming of punk rock and through the racism and politics of the era.

Charlie Mills (Ben Trotter) and Yusuf Niazi (Phil Chase)

Charlie Mills (Ben Trotter) and Yusuf Niazi (Phil Chase)

In the hands of the young talented cast, the play works, taking the audience back to the difficult days of the 1970s. Charlie Mills is great as Ben Trotter, especially in the truly touching scenes with grieving sister Lois (the also excellent Alice McGowan who will break your heart at the denouement of act one, but no spoilers.) Another standout from a uniformly excellent cast is Harris Myers as the idiotic, but also deeply troubled Sean Harding. His mimicry of upper class accents makes the audience laugh out loud (and saw a spontaneous round of applause), but he can also do deep and moving, such as when he is talking about his parents separation. Anna Bradley is spirited and feisty as Claire Newman, the one girl who is accepted as an honorary ‘lad’ in her role in the school magazine. You really wish that Ben would look at Claire rather than mooning over the attractive but insipid Cicely.

Charlie Mills (Ben Trotter), Yusuf Niazi (Phil Chase) and Anna Bradley (Claire Newman)

Charlie Mills (Ben Trotter), Yusuf Niazi (Phil Chase) and Anna Bradley (Claire Newman)

Louis Sutherland (Steve Richards), Haris Myers (Sean Harding) and Andrew Morrin (Culpepper)

Louis Sutherland (Steve Richards), Haris Myers (Sean Harding) and Andrew Morrin (Culpepper)

Daniel Carter (Malcolm) And Alice McGowan (Lois Trotter)

Daniel Carter (Malcolm) And Alice McGowan (Lois Trotter)

There are elements of the play that are more problematic. Without the parents of the main characters appearing in the play, it is hard to care about the political arguments between Ben and Doug, or about the disappearance of Claire’s sister Miriam, whose lover, Doug’s shop steward father, you never actually get to see or meet. The play also feels slightly too long. But these are minor quibbles in what is a forceful piece of modern theatre that evokes feelings of nostalgia for what seemed like a more innocent age, but in truth was anything but.

THE Rotters Club

By Jonathan Coe and adapted by Richard Cameron

The HOUSE at The REP

Click here for ticket information.

Introducing your man to manscaping

It’s no longer just the ladies that are waxing, plucking and shaving to keep body hair in check anymore. While men used to be able to sit back smugly, exempt from the body hair grooming rituals that preoccupy most women, there’s a new normal now and it’s called “manscaping.”

From keeping hair trimmed to taking it all off, paying attention to body hair is the manscaping mantra now that a carpet of chest or back hair is no longer a shining beacon of masculinity. These days, male celebrities and models in movies and magazines are sporting much less body hair than they did back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and as a result, more and more men are taking note of their own levels of Yeti-ness and doing something about it.

70s Man Reymolds

70s Man Reynolds

Modern Man Beckham

Modern Man Beckham


Every man has his own preferences when it comes to body hair, but manscaping really comes down to maintenance. Areas commonly worthy of some attention are the brows, ears, chest, back, and groin. No one wants body hair that looks like an untrimmed hedge. Luckily, regular grooming can achieve a look that is healthier, cleaner, and generally more attractive. Any part of the body that sprouts hair anywhere but on top is fair game for manscaping, and there are a lot of tools available, depending on your man’s level of comfort with the hair that’s already there. Electric trimmers work well for chest and pubic hair, but waxing is better for shoulders and back. To get rid of everything, consider waxing or laser treatments, but avoid tackling body hair with a razor, which can lead to prickly patches and razor burn.

If your guy isn’t convinced that manscaping is for him, show him some examples of laser hair removal before and after, and let him decide for himself. Here are a few more tips to help him shape up:

Start slow

Manscaping doesn’t mean that he has to go bare down there. He can start small in more neutral areas by trimming nose, beard, or ear hair or by getting rid of that uni-brow. Make sure you give him some positive reinforcement by telling him how great he looks with just a little maintenance. By starting small and being encouraging, you can help him work up to paying some attention to the more sensitive areas.

Go pro when needed

If he’s on board for some more involved manscaping but unsure about how to do it, seek out the professionals. If he’s considering permanent hair removal through laser treatments, then he’ll need to seek out a good clinic. If he opts for waxing, the process will be quicker and smoother if he leaves it to someone else. Remind him that it’s nothing to feel self-conscious about or ashamed of. He’ll be joining the ranks of well-kempt, confident men who are taking control of their body hair.

Keep it clean

Manscaping should be a regular part of his life, not a one-off. To help your man get into a groove, keep up the positive reinforcement so he knows how much you love his new, cleaner look.

Collaborative post.

Be like Slade and enjoy a very Seventies Christmas

I’m a child of the 1970s, and love everything about  the decade that some say style forgot. Platform shoes, flares, halter neck maxi dresses and glam rock are all cherished by Fashion-Mommy. And in terms of Christmas, was it ever celebrated better than in the 70s.Think about it, you could watch Christmas Top of the Pops in 1973 whilst dance away to the sounds of Slade, Wizzard and Elton John ‘Stepping into Christmas’, then enjoy the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special whilst enjoying a snowball and a selection of  vol-u-vents and other delights from the hostess trolley. What’s not to love?

This Christmas you can channel the best of 70s style. So whether your style icon is Farah Fawcett in her ‘Angels’ days, Margo Ledbetter or Faye Dunaway, you will find your dressing, and gift needs taken care of. Here’s a guide to the best of the 70s…now someone fetch me a Cinzano!

Open Back Embellished Top 

This top is soooo Abigail’s Party. Add a long black maxi skirt for a real retro feel!

Pleated Foil Jumpsuit 

Can’t believe this gold printed jumpsuit is New Look, it looks like something Bianca Jagger would’ve worn to Studio 54.

Adenine Gold gltr/mesh 

These fabulous Miu Miu style shoe have a real Glam Rock feel. I love them so much I’ve just ordered a pair myself, and I’m in good company, both Rochelle and Mollie from The Saturdays have been spotted wearing them recently.

Cobalt Keiko Jersey Maxi Dress 

The seventies were the birthplace of the iconic wrap dress a la Diane Von Furstenberg. This Monsoon number just needs a floppy fedora for the authentic look.

The 1970s scrapbook by Robert Opie.Click to visit Amazon

Get some style inspiration from this collection of 70s memorabilia. Part of the Robert Opie collection.