Welcome to 'Cockroaches and Diamonds', a Sonatina by John Goss

Giles Davies reads 'Allegro ben Moderato' from John Goss's 1930's novel, complete and unabridged.


Audio Book recorded, mastered and produced at Samson Studios, 2013.


All Rights Reserved.

Goss Novel Cover

John Goss, (1891-1953) was a British singer, socialist, writer, scholar and musicologist. His family line can be traced back to distant relatives who were piano builders. His other publications as editor are 'An Anthology of Song' (OUP 1929) 'Ballads of Britain' (John Lane 1937) and 'The Weekend Book' (1924). He was well known as a singer and early broadcaster on BBC Radio in the 1920's and 30's, and recorded for HMV with his own group, the Cathedral Male Quartet. This is his only novel, and was written in Japan in the 1930's when his wife was stationed at the British Embassy there. Instead of chapter headings, Goss sub-divides his novel into movements with Italian musical tempo descriptions. These are 'Allegro ben Moderato', 'Tema con Variazione', 'Andante ostinato ma espressivo', 'Minuetto e Trio' and 'Finale - Allegro - Coda'.


The central character in the novel is a civil service clerk, Albert Pumphrey, who has been drafted to a foreign office in the East.

Eccentric and colourful characters abound, notably Albert's parents, his Aunt and Uncle, and Marmaduke Gomshall, an ex-Policeman and Sailor who is by far the most irritating figure in the book. Other memorable and quirky characters include Mr Upton, a choral society bass and

hammy amateur actor, Moratin, an opinionated French Asian Painter, Mrs Carlisle and Mrs Oliphant, Sir Humphrey and Lady Otterbourne, and Mrs Obasong. Goss's language is rich throughout, and he has the skillful knack of bringing his characters to life always with a wry smile, while pointing out their fundamental humanity along with the ironies of the British class system of the period. Music, Languages, Politics and Literature pervade the novel from start to finish. For a first novel, the book is a breathtaking linguistic and satirical 'tour de force'.


Giles Davies has researched Goss's life and times in painstaking depth, and played him onscreen in 2005. His album 'Gossiana' (2007) celebrates John Goss's life and work as a 'biography in song', and was dubbed by International Record Review as 'A Mighty Labour of Love'.

Giles Davies is a critically acclaimed singer and actor on stage in Opera, Operetta and Musical Theatre. He has recorded for Naxos, Divine Art Records, the BBC, Capriol Films and on numerous Film Soundtracks. He is a specialist in audio musicology and the great singers of the early 20th Century.


This is the first complete recording of the novel, and uses extracts from John Goss's own HMV recordings of Ballads, Sea Shanties, and Drinking Songs from the 1920's, remastered from 78rpm records. Many are heard here for the first time since the 20th Century inter-war era.


John Goss's birth date is incorrectly listed at the Canadian Encyclopaedia online and other printed publications as 1894. This information is false as it was in fact 1891, as confirmed by the family tree and his birth certificate.