I’ve just finished my first book of the year. I like to read, and although most of it is done propped up in bed with my wonderful trusty bedside adjustable lamp (a bargain from argos) my favourite place to read is by the pool, in the sun, covered in oil, with a nice cold cerveza sitting next to me in the shade!
I have a ‘thing’ about young people writing autobiographies. Rooney, you haven’t done anything! Sports people are the worst! Phil Tuffnell has had a chequered career but I wanted to get beyond the ‘then we went to Adelaide and I got 3 for 21’ but I didn’t, and bad boy Shane Warne was no better! I want psychoanalysis and dirt, not contriteness, humility and cricket stats.
A little aside about our friend Shane, and an absolute true story which I sadly fear is the real reason we took the Ashes off them in that blissful summer of 2006: Back in those days, stockmarkets soared, bonuses boomed and the champagne flowed and therefore I found myself at Trent Bridge for a corporate day where I never was without a lager in my hand, fine food in my belly and a morning of watching Freddie become a centurion. We left the ground still buzzing from the continued England dominance as Simon Jones ripped into their top orderthat afternoon.
The Aussies are made of stern stuff and bat a long way down the order, so we all knew this game was far from over as we discussed the days play over a couple more drinks in the ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem’ pub (which professes to be 800 years old and the oldest pub in England) before heading out for a night out at a fine restaurant and, er, more drinks.
Fast forward to the end of the evening. Its late, and we are in a bistro split between a diner and a bar. We are in the diner and I slip off for a call of nature and in my failing navigation end up in the bar. There, flanked by two pretty women (all women looked pretty by now!) was Shane Warne. Whilst his fellow cricketers slept and dreamt of a famous comeback, Mr Warne was tempting the ladies with a short one. Check the records, the following day he strode out to bat and was promptly trapped LBW for a duck. England one the match, went 2-1 up in the series and held out to win it!
Back to biographies: Danny Baker on the other hand, although not a sportsman, is a football fanatic (so, tenuously in that genre) and a few years older than me, so I have just found his bio ‘Going to sea on a Sieve’ an absolute delight as it triggered so many of my memory sensations revolving around music (punk / glam rock of which he adores!) clothes, terraces, tv and early experiences of chasing girls!
I guess it helps if you know who he is. He writes as he speaks which is something I know I’m guilty of. The difference is that when you are a famous radio presenter, that’s pretty much what you want from your book. Commercially savvy, he has left enough in the anecdote bank for a second bio as this focuses on his childhood and youth, and gives us an illuminating insight into the life of a Bermondsy boy in the sixties and seventies. Contrary to folklore, not everyone who lived by the docks spent their days fighting and on the take. No, in truth, some of them were passive, warm, amusing, generous, non confrontational …and on the take! But there is a delightful ‘can do’ attitude which Danny has and this really feeds through. Without becoming slushy and Uriah Heepish he acknowledges that it’s all rather fortunately fallen into his lap, but its penned in such a way that you celebrate this rather than resent it. Danny you’re funnier than me, richer than me, and I’m jolly pleased for you and hope your book is a success!