Article published on April 1, 2017.
Over the festive period I have been rather busy re-reading books acquired from a while back. They are all relative to my thought processes I can assure you, and to each other.
Firstly, I have to really clear a large number of books on my shelves to make room for the newer tomes (I am very overloaded all over the house). I am usually extremely reluctant to part with any book, but needs must when the devil drives, so in order to make the task not quite so onerous, I decided to re-read any book that I feel a potential need to part with, just to make sure. [Ed: This sounds like the quintessential definition of a BookChap to me, Reg!]
Randomly, I selected a book entitled And It’s Goodnight From Him by the late Ronnie Corbett. Dated 2006, and published by Michael Joseph, it is actually the autobiography of The Two Ronnies, although Corbett wrote the book in conjunction with David Nobbs. [Ed: Ronnie Barker died in Oct 2005.]
A household name, ‘The Two Ronnies’ kept their brand of family entertainment going for some 16 years, although they went on to other things individually. The book details their own pre-together lives and careers and how it all came to pass and beyond. We can all remember various clips that appealed to our own sense of humour of course, and in here, there is flesh added to the bones of how it was all made and written. Many facts about the two of these two fine fellows, now becomes open knowledge through this book, and fascinating it is too, well worth the re-read.
This particular book led me onto my second one for re-reading, I recalled a quick comment by its author about how he ended up being seated beside Ronnie Corbett at some charity function or other. So I began to re-read Eric Clapton The Autobiography, published in 2007 by Century. In conjunction with Christopher Simon-Sykes, Clapton has compiled the definitive, warts and all expose on his life to date. His marriages, his affairs, his alcohol and drug abuse, his total lack of control at times, and his sadness at how he was during these excesses.
Again, another fascinating book to read for any would be musician amongst us. It portrays a life that the average person can only dream about and witness from afar, yet is largely ignored and treated with distain for much of the time. It is interesting to learn of all this, but did I feel any sympathy? No, not really, although he is a guitar virtuoso, the way he has carried on for many years with scant regard for others, and his arrogance for less fortunate people had me cringing to be honest. A very good read though for the bibliophile who engages in biographies.
I surely can be forgiven for following the trend with my third re-read – All Things Must Pass. This life of George Harrison by Marc Shapiro was published in 2002 by Virgin Books Ltd. Written more than likely shortly after George passed away in 2001, and quite likely to cash in on his demise? Whatever, it tells us the life from birth to death. I expect there is a lot that has surfaced since his demise that is not included, but it is very well written, although written in a slightly formulaic style to me. Maybe I am wrong, but warts and all it really isn’t; speculative, maybe, but it does read rather well.
I wonder what it is in us that compels us to read about things when we already know the basics? His marriage that eventually collapsed, his odd home Friar Park, the Beatles, the musical collaborations, his Eastern philosophy, the physical attack on him and his second wife at their home, and so on. A full and varied life throughout, well worth another read, or is to my way of thinking.
Then we get to the mortar that tied these two musicians together Wonderful Today. The autobiography of Pattie Boyd, in collaboration with Penny Junor was published in 2007 by Headline Review.
The iconic model of the sixties, married and divorced from two rock musicians, and since this book’s release, she has married a third chap and seems happy at long last.
A rather lovely looking, girl next door appearance that belies the sad start in life she had, yet still became such a massive icon, quite possibly enhanced through her relationship with George Harrison, but we can each speculate how she would have done without him. In this book, we get her side of things, the divorces, the drinking, the drugs, the short affairs, and so on. How she felt about having songs written because of her, and about her, and they in turn becoming massive hits. But ultimately I found the book very sad, and quite possibly not the entire truth due to her inherent guarding of her privacy and quietness. It does show us of her love for holidays and luxury, and who can blame her?.
Maybe these books and others like them give us mere mortals a glimpse into the lives of the high and mighty within the celebrity culture of years gone by. Yes, these books loosely relate and cross-reference each other, but, the one thing that holds them all together is Monty Pythons Flying Circus. The Python characters all weave throughout the above people’s lives in various ways, so therein lays another tangent for me to follow.
These books also probably only appeal to those of a certain age, but will I cast them aside and replace them with others? I doubt it. [Ed: Did you actually part with ANY books in this exercise, Reg?] I already have the familiar pangs of potential loss, I know I will regret their passing in a very short while if I did move them on, so, what to do? Letters on a postcard please.
The Romanovs: 1613-1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore