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by Hazel K Bell

This book is, without a doubt, a vanity publication. It is a book that would be very unlikely to have been published if Mrs Bell had not set up her own Press (HKB Press?) to do so. This is a point against the publishing industry as this is a very entertaining and informative work which I am sure, with the right marketing behind it, very specifically aimed marketing, could have found its audience.

The audience would be lovers of the stage, in particular the musical stage, for this book’s title is extremely accurate. This is the book of Hazel Bell’s middle child, Aidan’s, theatrical life and his mother and family’s part in it. Aidan comes across as energetic, ambitious, talented and somewhat hopeless at anything approaching a normal existence which, like the book itself, is to be applauded.

Hazel comes across as very well organised, which is not strange as her chosen profession is free-lance indexing (not something I’d expect to see on many passports), totally devoted to her family and rather stage-struck herself. Her family come across as long-suffering, which you’d have to be with a son like Aidan ("Aah", I almost hear Hazel cry, "no one but me has a son like Aidan!"). Then again, her daughter, Diana, is also in show business and there is a very interesting little section on her working as a child chaperon in such as the Harry Potter films. In fact I would have liked to have learned more about this.

It seems Aidan was a performer from a very young age and, by the age of 10, he was giving shows in the family garage. It was inevitable that his life would be lived on the stage, with musicals being his primary love. Not only did he perform in them, The Rocky Horror Show, but he also wrote them, Elite. The book follows his life from birth, actually before, as we have a brief piece on the family’s background in amateur dramatics, until his 30th birthday party in Vienna accompanying his solo CD launch.

I don’t think the CD accompanying this book is the CD from that launch, but it is very entertaining. Aidan comes across as a bit of a belter. It contains 8 tracks from various productions and includes him in character, with a very polished performance as "Margaret" on one of the tracks. Most of the works are composed by Aidan as well.

Musicals are not by any means my chosen form of entertainment, but this is a lovely little package. Both Aidan’s enthusiasm and Hazel’s devotion come across equally well. Sometimes vanity is the best option.


ISBN 0 9552503 1 5
HKB Press, 2006
92pp, illustrated paperback with accompanying CD
Retail price 8.00

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams