Pete Paphides: Broken Greek review – top of the pop memoirs

A hilarious, heartbreaking and completely enchanting debut. Book review by Owen Richards

Think of the phrase “music memoir”, and you might conjure images of wild nights and heavy mornings. You’re unlikely to think of suburban West Bromwich and tributes to Mike Batt’s Wombles back catalogue. But then, Pete Paphides’s story is comprised of unlikelihoods. What were the chances of one of the country’s leading music critics being the mute son of Greek Cypriot chip shop owners?

Broken Greek tracks Paphides’s childhood from four to thirteen. In his early days, he was selectively mute to everyone outside of his family for reasons not quite clear to anyone, including himself. It was in these silent formative years he first developed an interest in those stars on Top of the Pops. Not so much for the cool factor, as demonstrated by favouriting acts such as Brotherhood of Man and The Barron Knights. Instead, so convinced was he that his parents would abandon him from sheer embarrassment, he was scouting out potential guardians.