In Turned Out Nice Again, Deborah Tyler-Bennett introduced us to a fine collection of engaging new friends. Inspired by the music halls and variety, the author chronicled the lives of a linked group of characters in the East Midlands in the heyday of musical comedy. Alf and Shirl, Vi, Cooper and Bean ("the boys most likely to…”) Beryl, and the redoubtable Grandwem were all expertly drawn and brought to life in those pages, plus a whole host of minor characters who provided both context and bitter-sweet humour, and a budgie called George Formby.
Now,for them, and for everyone else, the war is over, and many things will never be the same again, including the world of variety. A new, brash theme is echoing through the world of entertainment, and it comes from across the Atlantic. But not every GI wedding has a happy ending, and sometimes Tin Pan Alley can become a dead end, as Ruby discovers when she has to be rescued by the old gang.
Meanwhile, back in the East Midlands, Grandwem continues her domination of the local environs, taking George and the family into new areas, as everyone tries to come to terms with post-war daily life. New pets arrive along the way - Lightning Strike and Flash Gordon, the most mis-named dogs in Mansfield, and Cooper and Bean are having to adapt their act, and cope with changes in their personal lives as well.
The scene also shifts to Brighton, expertly-described, recalled back in the late 1950s and 1960s, as it was before it became "Be-Right-On”. Seedy, and dangerous, back in the days of the teddy boys and the razor gangs, with vividly-drawn characters, such as Aggie, who pushes her trolley round the streets, Phil and Gilda and their dangerously-unbalanced love affair, and Billy's unacknowledged son Ted, who eponymously becomes the smallest Teddy Boy in Brighton, a life which leads him into contact with some very heavy people, including the terrifying, scar-faced Vimo Fielding, the "Don” of Burgess Hill. All of us who felt that Grandwem and her family were far too entertaining to lose after only one book will be delighted to see them back once again, Mansfield’s answer to the Larkins!