Three people whose work I have greatly admired over the years to be given recognition by their home city, the poet Philip Larkin, the actress Billie Whitlaw, and the singer and songwriter Hazel O’Connor.
Once again the city provided an opportunity to pay tribute to Coventry’s most well-known and best-loved citizens in the Walk of Fame in Priory Place.
The Walk of Fame 2009 WinnersAs chosen by residents of Coventry, the final 10 names to added to the Coventry Walk of Fame in May are:
- Coventry City 1987 FA Cup Winners
- Marlon Devonish – Athlete and Olympic Gold Medallist
- Sir Nigel Hawthorne – Actor
- Sir Alfred Herbert – Industrialist
- Vince Hill – Singer
- Philip Larkin – Poet
- Hazel O’Connor – Singer and Actress
- Clive Owen – Actor
- The Selecter – 2-Tone Band
- Billie Whitelaw – Actress
What is the Coventry Walk of Fame?The idea for the Coventry Walk of Fame came from Pete Chambers, local music historian and a city ambassador.Local people who have helped to put Coventry on the map will be immortalised by having their names set into the flooring in Priory Place in the form of a Hollywood-style star.
The ten people inaugurated into the Coventry Walk of Fame in May 2008 were:
- The Specials – 2-Tone band
- Pete Waterman – pop impresario
- Mo Mowlam – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
- Jimmy Hill OBE – Coventry City Manager and football innovator
- Sir Frank Whittle OM KBE FRS – Inventor of the Turbojet Engine
- Dave Moorcroft OBE – Athlete and World Record Holder
- Lady Godiva – Mediaeval benefactor
- James Starley – Father of the cycle industry
- Sir Henry Parkes – Father of the Australian Foundation
- Sir William Lyons – Founder of Jaguar Cars
Where is the Coventry Walk of Fame?The Coventry Walk of Fame is located in Priory Place, opposite the BBC studios in the city centre. Click here to see the location on a map.
One of Larkin’s best poems, Aubade, is read here by someone who has chosen to go under the colourful nom de guerre of Tom O’Bedlam and who says of his website that it’s “ALL POETRY, there’s nothing else in this channel”.
An aubade is described in Wikipedia entry as:
Aubade has also been defined as “a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak.”………
In 1963, Whitelaw met the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett, with whom she was to establish a intense and fruitful working relationship that was to last until Beckett’s death in 1989. It is for her work with Beckett that she is most likely be remembered.
Many of Beckett’s plays were written with her in mind, and he is reported to have said that he considered Whitelaw “A Perfect Actress”. Whitelaw was in effect one of Beckett muses. In lectures she has said: “He used me as a piece of plaster he was molding until he got just the right shape”. Out of this collaboration came Play (1963), Eh Joe (1965), Not I (1972), Footfalls (1975) and Rockaby (1980). Theirs was an intense and sometimes, for Whitelaw especially, physically exhausting collaboration, but is was one that ensured that Whitelaw contribution to the theatre is unlikely to be forgotten.
Hazel O’Connor sings Will You on Top of the Pops.
The Breaking Glass soundtrack album reached number 5 in the UK Albums Chart and remained in that chart 28 week. She had several hit singles, the most successful being the haunting Will You, and the prescient Eighth Day.
It was O’Connor’s misfortune never to have been in the position to hone her considerable skills as a songwriter, but it has to be said that that even though in her post Breaking Glass she’s not fulfilled her promise, her work as both a writer and performer has been of a consistently high quality and has been shamefully ignored by those who should know better.