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Book Review: Do they know it’s Christmas yet? by James Crookes

Brother and sister Jamie and Tash have accidentally managed to time travel back to October 1984 and have broken it.

They land on the day that Bob Geldof watched the BBC news and saw Michael Burke’s report on the famine in Ethiopia, the report that inspired him to form Band Aid and record “Do they know it’s Christmas”, which, in turn led to Live Aid in July 1985. Only, Jamie and Tash’s landing cause him to miss that report….

I loved the song “Do they know it’s Christmas” as a child, I still love it now, despite the fact I got dumped at a school Christmas disco while it was playing – good times.

Obviously, I have no memory of Live Aid, I’m reliably informed I saw some of it having been brought home from hospital, a week old, on the day it was on. It’s a huge moment in history (Live Aid not my birth obvs) so imagine if it hadn’t happened.

Jamie – once realising what he and his sister have done, becomes obsessed with making sure Bob Geldof sees that report before they head back to 2020. Tash just wants to get home to her five-month-old son and enjoy Christmas Day. She’s got to choose between getting back and helping to make sure a million other people are fed.

Despite the title, this is not a Christmas book. It is hilarious.

This book really did brighten my day. It’s fun, light-hearted, slapstick and the dose of fantasy I needed, though it did make me pine for a Woolworth’s pick n mix.

It’s filled with warm characters that you can’t help but love. Jamie has Asperger’s, he was delightfully honest and literal, and eternally enthusiastic. The relationship between the siblings was lovely; both are in their 30s, Tash is always looking out for her younger brother, Jamie is always comforting and reassuring his elder sister. 

The married couple, Raymond and Maureen, Jamie and Tash befriend, had me in stitches – him henpecked, her thinking they were posher than they were and constantly worrying about leaving the immersion heater on.

For me it was the references to the 80s that made Do they know it’s Christmas yet? great. A time when Thursday nights were all about Top of the Pops, Wham were riding high in the charts, there were Blue Peter Appeals, Betamax players and rah-rah skirts. I loved the nostalgia that ran through this book and of course the music.

I can’t sit here and claim to remember the 80s with any real clarity, I wasn’t born until 1985 after all, but this book did remind me of parts of my childhood. My Cricket doll (you put cassettes in the back of her and she talked) that I took everywhere, Rainbow Bright and Sylvanian families. Of only having four TV channels and that being alright – there was arguably more to watch. A time when the only place you could really see your favourite bands was on Top of the Pops and if you were a music nut – you absolutely watched it.

Bad fashion, bad perms, bad interior design and no social media.

If you’re of a certain age, this book will make you nostalgic, you’ll find yourself saying “Do you remember [insert 80s reference here]” a lot.

Let’s be honest we all love a bit of a trip down memory lane – it’s why I had an 80s themed fancy dress 30th, the costumes were amazing, the soundtrack immense. It’s why I’ve sat writing this listening to an 80s mix on Spotify – I’ve sang along  to The Cure, Thompson Twins, Style Council and Tear for Fears (to name a few) and can only apologise to my neighbours for ruining their peace.

There’s a lot of twists and turns as Jamie and Tash embark on their mission in their Sinclair C5 turned time machine. You’ll route for them to succeed in getting to Bob and making sure Band Aid happens and you’ll liken the people they meet along the way.

If anything, this book was the perfect way to suspend reality and don’t we all need to do that from time to time. Give it a read and enjoy, I did!

P.S It will make you miss Woolies 

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Do they know it’s Christmas yet? by James Crookes Leave a comment

  1. I might try this. I’ll never forget our primary school dinner ladies repeatedly telling us to eat the disgusting school dinners and remember that people were starving in Ethiopia, as if eating the soya meat and Smash mess that the school served up was going to help the situation!

    Liked by 1 person

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