Born in the shadow of a dark, satanic cream cracker factory, Mike Harding struggled against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the catapults and half-bricks of the Black Hand Gang to find himself launched into stardom when he won the egg-and-spoon race at St Anne's Crumpsall Junior School.
For a while he was the leader of the Crumpsall Father Christmas and Tooth Fairy Cult but he gave that all up when he discovered that Dan Dare and girls were more interesting. After growing up in an Irish Catholic household, he was sent to a grammar school run by priests, from which he eventually emerged unscathed. A combination of O Levels and rock 'n' roll led him into the bowels of Manchester's club land, where he worked alongside strippers and Chinese strongman acts while revising the War of Jenkin's Ear.
Testosterone and guilt struggled for mastery in his lapsing Catholic chest and trousers until testosterone won and, with guilt still on his back like Quasimodo's hump, he toured the dancehalls of Northern England in a VW panel van, taking rock 'n' roll to one-horse towns where the horse had bolted.
Warm, nostalgic and very funny, Mike Harding's memoir of his early life in post-war Manchester is as idiosyncratic and engaging as the man himself.
Mike Harding is a singer, musician, songwriter, composer, comedian, poet and broadcaster. He began performing as a folk singer in pubs and clubs around Manchester, and his first album A Lancashire Lad was released by Topic Records in 1972. In 1975 he released 'The Rochdale Cowboy', a song that brought him to national attention. He has written numerous books - from poetry to plays, short stories to fishing manuals. For fifteen years he presented a highly praised Folk, Roots and Acoustic Music programme on BBC Radio 2, establishing a regular evening audience of a million listeners, since which he has launched a weekly internet folk show. A very keen fell-walker, fly-fisher and lover of the countryside, he is lifetime vice-president of The Ramblers and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.