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Seasons of Change – Busking Britain

By Tom Kitching

Tom Kitching is one of England’s leading traditional fiddle players.

He has worked as a solo performer, band member, dance caller, violin teacher, and street busker. That last element – the busking – was an afterthought, something to be phased out as he built a career in music.

But the busking bug wouldn’t go away. Beyond the music and the collecting hat, perhaps fiddling through the streets of England could be a key to finding out who the English really are, how they view themselves and how they deal with change. Is there anything that ties together people across England’s many cultural divides, from neat Cotswold villages hugging village greens to former mining villages huddled beside abandoned pits, from multicultural city to Anglo-Saxon market town?

Armed with a violin, a Northern sensibility and a love of life in all its troubling richness, Tom took an 18-month journey through England to find out.

This isn’t really a book about busking, though. It’s about people, place, and that elusive beast – Englishness. On Tom’s street-level odyssey, the lines between friend and stranger blur, informality reigns, and chance encounters make a mockery of careful planning.

As the seasons change and the tally of busking towns grows, the complex mosaic called England confronts its fly-on-the-wall observer with the challenge – define me if you dare.

Price: £13.99

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The Struggle and the Daring

The Remaking of French Rugby League

By Mike Rylance

A much-anticipated sequel to The Forbidden Game

The Catalan Dragons’ stunning 2018 Wembley Challenge Cup victory came against a backdrop of well over half a century of both triumph and turbulence in French rugby league.

Re-emerging from the iniquitous ban under the Vichy government, le rugby à treize was rebuilt from scratch after World War II – so successfully that the Tricolores were recognized as unofficial world champions after their dazzling, ground-breaking tour of Australia, and were at the forefront of international innovation, including the World Cup.

Together with the acclaimed The Forbidden Game, which explored the story of the Vichy ban, The Struggle and the Daring makes up the first-ever complete history of French rugby league.

Based on extensive research and interviews, Mike Rylance’s book highlights the many great players France has produced and analyses key events as the game emerged from the chaos of post-Liberation France, continued to grapple with the threat posed by rugby union and, after a long decline, returned to the mainstream of professional rugby league.

Price: £15.99

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The Wigan Warriors Quiz Book

Compiled by Ewan Phillips

Q. Who scored a try while unconscious against Bradford in the 2011 Challenge Cup?

Q. Which Wigan star of the 1980s wore two earrings?

Q. Which Wigan forward did Gaby Roslin say she ‘quite fancied’ after his appearance on The Big Breakfast in 1992?

Think you’re an expert on Wigan RLFC? Let quizmaster Ewan Phillips – the man behind TV’s Mock the Week, Big Fat Quiz of the Year and more – test your knowledge of 2018’s Betfred Super League champions.

Prepare to be grilled on players and events legendary and random through every era from Northern Union to today. This captivating memory-jogger guarantees family fun.

Price: £12.99

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Ronnie Gives Rugby League a Try!

Author: Leon Crick. Illustrations: Dave Bull.

Learn to read with Ronnie the Rhino! RHINOS READING is a project launched by Leeds Rhinos Foundation that aims to support children’s literacy and introduce them to rugby league via stories featuring the superstars of the club – and this is the first book in the new series. Who better than the world’s most famous rugby league mascot to launch it?

Price: £3.99

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Champion of Champions

A boy. A bike. A legend.

By David Brayley

What if you were a professional road cyclist and – due to a run of bad injuries and loss of form – were told your career will be finished if you didn’t succeed in one of the world’s toughest races? Daniel’s dream of being a leading professional cyclist is under threat but, far from being worried, he believes he has the answer. All he has to do is remember it.

For that, he must go back to the very beginning of his journey as a 14-year-old rider in the leafy lanes of Wales’s Gower Peninsula, and then make a shock detour to rural Italy, where he first hears what will become his mantra – “Be the best that you can be.”

The eccentric stranger who tells him so also introduces Daniel to the legendary Italian racer, Fausto Coppi, and inspires the teenage boy with stories of Coppi’s excellence, bravery, success and ultimate heartbreak. But the eerie man with detailed knowledge hides a dark secret. Once before he tried to inspire a teenage cyclist and the horror of that episode is slowly revealed to Daniel.

In a story that threatens to tear a family apart, can Daniel navigate his past and call on the reasons that led to him becoming a professional cyclist in the first place? If so, he may just be able to deliver a performance in the brutal Milan-San Remo race and save not only his cycling career but everything his life has meant so far.

Will the memories be too painful? Or will they lead on to ultimate glory?

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