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

Advertisements

A legend’s tale

macca book

signed macca book

A DIFFERENT SHADE OF GREEN: THE ALAN McLOUGHLIN STORY

WITH BRYCE EVANS

Earlier this month I attended a fans evening at Fratton Park in honour of Portsmouth F.C and Irish football legend, Alan ‘Macca’ McLoughlin. The midfielder and current first team coach was hugely popular with supporters many of whom were packed in for an interesting Q+A and queued up to have the legend sign a copy of his book. It was nice to see him happy and relaxed and looking well after his recent terrifying battle with cancer.

However, just days later Macca was mysteriously sacked by Pompey. It came as a real shock to me, the fans and probably to himself and his family but as his book here goes to show, that’s all part and parcel of a turbulent, unpredictable life in football.

A Different Shade of Green is a rollercoaster tale of a proud sporting career. Brilliantly written by Bryce Evans this is no run of the mill account of wags, booze and trophies. Instead it is a look back with an intelligent eye over an eventful international career with Ireland, the good times and bad times with his predominant clubs – Swindon Town and Portsmouth F.C – and his obvious devotion to family life.

From the devastation of being let go by Manchester United as a teenager to meeting the Pope as part of the Italia ’90 Irish squad, Macca has experienced the many highs and lows of a footballing life and it’s a fascinating read.
Continue reading

Don’t hang the DJ

THE BIRD AND THE BEEB BY LIZ KERSHAW

kershaw

 

The Bird and The Beeb is the story of Liz Kershaw’s thrilling career as a Radio DJ. I expected it to be full of name drops and celebrity anecdotes but happily it is much more than that. Kershaw is someone who has fought for her slice of the airwaves from her Rochdale youth dancing round her Dansette to saving the UK’s greatest music station, she has stood up and been counted. She’s been called “controversial,” “outspoken” and a feminist but none of these are bad things in my book – or this one!

As a reward for passing her O-levels early, her Dad allowed her to start buying pop records with her pocket money. As Liz says his timing couldn’t have been better as 1972 was “a belting year for music.” Only a matter of years later she was forming her own girl group Dawn Chorus & The BlueTits with Countdown smart-ass Carol Vorderman. Whilst they didn’t reach the dizzy heights of Bananarama, she did get to record a Peel session.

Her career at the BBC took off at Radio Leeds – a case of literally in the right place at the right time. From there she went on to huge success on Radio One’s Weekend Breakfast show with Bruno Brookes rubbing shoulders with pop megastars on the Radio One Roadshows and introducing the latest hits on Top Of The Pops. Kershaw describes the mass hysteria surrounding acts like Bros and Spandau Ballet when they visited the BBC all of which evoked huge memories for me. Growing up in the 80s I was obsessed with pop music, radio DJs and Top of The Pops and more than anything I can remember I wanted to be onstage as a presenter at a Roadshow. Liz Kershaw was doing all of that – lucky thing!

But of course where there are highs, there are often lows. Kershaw has been vilified for her northern accent, labelled as thick, rough and common in the snobby world of broadcasting. She has battled cervical cancer, lost friends to drink, drugs and depression and seen her own brother broadcaster Andy (“our Andrew”) jailed for violating a restraining order. Continue reading

This Charming Man

ROD: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY ROD STEWART

Rod

This was a great read. A really captivating and brilliant story of Rock n Roll excess, high times, low times and very bad behaviour.

Rod Stewart’s journey through Rock is well known. We are all familiar with his voice, hair, great songs and his love of drugs and tall leggy blondes. Here though, we are getting it from the horse’s mouth and Rod is a great raconteur – candid and hilarious throughout. Continue reading