Friday, 21 April 2017

Teddy Boy - Ernest Ryman


JIMMIE ALBAN is a Teddy boy whose career ends in murder, and this is the story of his successive steps on the path towards an unusually mean and horrible crime. But it is only towards the end of the story that the paths of Jimmie Alban and Charlie Bowker cross. Charlie also claims to be a Teddy boy, but in his case the reasons for a distorted view of life become apparent as we follow his progress through Fulwood, which is an Approved School-one of those places to which we send youthful delinquents.

Life at Fulwood, seen through the eyes of one of the instructors, is never dull. 'Laughter and jeers, violence and courage, cheating and generosity were daily in evidence...Teachers were dealing with lads who had, in many ways, had a greater experience of the world than themselves....We had to make ordinary, decent living attractive to lads who had known the luxury of West End hotels and the excitement of nocturnal prowlings and gang activities.'

In this book delinquents come alive as human beings. Moreover, at Fulwood, Teddy boys form only a minority among the simple-minded, the psychopaths, and boys with perverted cleverness. In their life together they show resentment of all authority, and a constant, clamorous demand for attention and affection. There are many amusing passages in the story, much adventure, and surprising dignity.

Teddy Boy is not a documentary dealing with facts and figures. Its emphasis is on human beings.

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