Patrick Hamilton, his influence, and our name.

The novel Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

“Then he remembered, without any difficulty, what it was he had to do: he had to kill Netta Longdon. He was going to kill her, and then he was going to Maidenhead, where he would be happy” 

Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton

The above quote is from the opening chapter of Patrick Hamilton’s 1941 novel ‘Hangover Square’. This was the inspiration for our name.

Book cover for 'Hangover Square' by Patrick Hamilton

Silver screen

Patrick Hamilton is most famous for having written two plays that were adapted for the big screen. Both of them became very successful films. These were ‘Rope’ directed by Alfred Hitchcock and ‘Gaslight’ directed by George Cukor (from which the term ‘Gaslighting’ originates).

Film poster for 'Rope' directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Film poster for 'Gaslight' directed by George Cukor

But it’s his darkly comic ‘Hangover Square’ set in 1930s Earl’s Court, London that captured us, (not the dreadful 1945 film of the same name!). It stars the hapless hero George Harvey Bone and his doomed obsession with out-of-work actor Netta Longdon. Poor George, uncomfortable in his own skin, obsesses over Netta. All he wants is to settle down with her in a nice little cottage. Unfortunately, Netta is not the least bit interested. And what complicates matters more is that for many years George has been prone to what he describes as his ‘dead moods’, experiences where all the colour drains from the world, he becomes outwardly unresponsive and somewhat fixated on morbid endeavours, in particular, ending the life of the woman he so completely desires.

The big smoke

Hangover Square is a quirky, charming, infuriating, upsetting novel. There’s a warmth in the darkness, an innocence, a purity, a violence, and a sense of not belonging…we are drawn to all these things. Many of the scenes occur in smoky London pubs, an atmosphere we can relate to as we both lived in London before the ban on indoor smoking and have an unhealthy nostalgia for those times! Plus it’s morbidly hilarious at every booze-soaked turn and we highly recommend it for those who like their comedy dark.

Patrick Hamilton was a true original, always dark, often very funny, a melancholy character who drank way too much and died at the age of 58 from cirrhosis of the liver. Sad, but he achieved so much.

Book cover for 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky' by Patrick Hamilton

It all started in a London pub

There’s one other little Patrick influence in our work so far. He also wrote a trilogy of novels called Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky (of which the BBC did a three-part adaptation, all of which you can watch on YouTube starting HERE) the first of which is called (and set in) The Midnight Bell, a London pub. It was after this that we named the opening instrumental of our debut album ‘Painting With An Open Heart’.

Book cover for 'The Midnight Bell' by Patrick Hamilton

If this article has intrigued you then by all means give Patrick a go. And be sure to tell us what you think!

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Hangover Square are Victoria Bourne and Chris Harper

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