Going off alarming

GOING OFF ALARMING BY DANNY BAKER

Going off alarming

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Danny Baker but the sight of my husband absolutely shaking with mirth whilst reading the second volume of his autobiography was enough to convince me to get reading it myself. Boy, I’m glad I did!

Danny Baker is best known for his work on TV shows, for hosting football phone-ins on the radio, for being the star of the “Daz Doorstep Challenge” adverts and for being temporary tabloid fodder for his mid-1990s hijinks with Chris Evans and Paul Gascoigne. He has worked with all the comedy greats – Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper, Spike Milligan, “a self-lacerating” Frankie Howard and has great yarns to spin from all of these meetings.  Keeping a furious Kenneth Williams waiting and then later on name-dropping the Carry-On star to buy his first house is particularly cracking material.

It’s hard to suck up that Baker is one of life’s lucky blighters who always come up smelling of roses. He has walked between the raindrops (a chapter heading here) and led a charmed life. But this is what sets his story apart from the run of the mill celebrity biographies clogging up supermarket bookshelves. There is no rags to riches, no point at where it all went wrong. Instead this is the story of an original Cockney boy getting away with it over and over again.

His is not an autobiography in the traditional sense. There is very little “I did this, I did that” going on here. Baker is far too clever for that. A natural and endearing raconteur, his amazing career twists and turns are merely squeezed in between hilarious and often unbelievable anecdotes. His recollections of Davey The Dwarf and the Rag and Bone Man story are particular favourites of mine. Even funnier and incredulous than volume one, I warmed to the witty wordplay and life experience of this writer and broadcaster. (Although I still find him a very smug and bumptious personality!)

However, just like his first book, Going To Sea In A Sieve, the star of the show is not the man himself but most definitely his docker father known as ‘Spud.’ An absolute character of a man with wheeling and dealing ways, a brazen attitude towards authority and financial affairs and a firm belief that everyone can be bribed, claiming; “they’ve all got their hand out.” I was choking on my own stifled guffaws on a train through West Sussex as Baker described in perfect detail Spud’s Sunday routine of elaborate ablutions and preparing the cockles for tea. Even the title of the book, Going Off Alarming, Continue reading

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Bedsit Disco Queen

BEDSIT DISCO QUEEN: HOW I GREW UP AND TRIED TO BE A POPSTAR

BY TRACEY THORN

tracey thorn

I suspect that like a lot of people, I like Tracey Thorn “a bit.” I bought her hits with Everything But The Girl ‘Missing’ and‘Walking Wounded’ and her collaboration with Massive Attack on ‘Protection,’ but that’s as close as I get to being a fan.

So why read her life story? Well I like any insight into the backstage world of pop stardom. At the age of 34 I still secretly harbour dreams to be a singer in a popular group and I cannot see how it can be anything less than the perfect lifestyle.

EBTG

But of course it is. In Tracey’s intensely warm, readable and personal account she shares the highs of the unexpected resurrection and hit singles with her partner Ben Watt as EBTG, to the lows of being written off by critics and their struggle through Ben’s crippling illness.

I can see why this book from one of our more understated and maybe underappreciated artists became a Sunday Times bestseller. Part memoir, part social commentary, we are led on a gripping journey through the last few decades of the music industry. It feels like she’s telling us all about it over a pot of tea and plate of biscuits round the kitchen table.

Like Morrissey’s Autobiography, her early years are the best to read, full of exciting nostalgia and obsessions with boys, bands and fashion. As with so many of her generation, it is Punk that then sparks her into life and she soon forms the promising Marine Girls who go on to become favourites of Kurt Cobain. Continue reading

Classic Morrissey

AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY MORRISSEY

Morrissey book plans back on track

A lot has been said in the press about this book, mainly by the most boring of Morrissey naysayers. Lazy headlines and ignorant opinions filled papers and websites by nobody journalists who flicked through the 457 pages trying to find the “revelations,” This book is not about revelations, we know most of this stuff, it’s about the world through Moz’s eyes which often feels like the world through our own eyes which is why we remain true to him. Viva Moz!

Here are my personal highlights from the book published, very deservedly, as a Penguin Classic:

1. Birds abstain from song in post-war industrial Manchester, where the 1960s will not swing, and where the locals are the opposite of worldly (page 4)

2. Miss Redmond is ageing, and will never marry, and will die smelling of attics (page 10)

3. Every house has a face, and the eyes of 10 Trafalgar Square were already closed (page 34)

moz young

4. Nannie is gone to the world with a satisfied Embassy wheeze whistling in rhythm to the bedside clock, her night-light pointing the way to cough sweets, Holy water, milk of magnesia and Germolene – the vital accoutrements for anticipated midnight peril (page 34) Continue reading