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My Name is Daphne Fairfax

November 20, 2009
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I am not a big fan of autobiographies (or biographies for that matter) as I find them a touch boring. I have read a couple that are great – and some are obviously vital records of important people’s lives – but they do tend to read as: I did this and then I did that…rinse and repeat. Yawn.

I also hate the fact that celebrities feel the urge, or financial necessity, to ‘write’ an autobiography after a laughably short period of time in the limelight. Geri Halliwell wrote 2 autobiographies before she hit thirty. FFS. Even including being in The Spice Girls, I cannot imagine that she has enough to say to fill in an average questionaire.

Michael Owen wrote his first when he was 21. 21! Apart from playing football – albiet, at the highest level – nothing of any interest has happened to him apart from having an occasional haircut without his Dad and learning joined-up writing.

So it was a welcome surprise to read My Name is Daphne Fairfax, the autobiography of Arthur Smith. For those of you who don’t know he is a stand up comedian, playwright and general raconteur regularly guesting on Radio 4 and is a rather funny man.

The book does start off in a list like fashion, documenting his early life as a boy and then a student. Although this section is somewhat banal, there is something refreshingly candid about it; that he is not ashamed of his past and his snapshot of post-war London is heartfelt.

The resonant feeling upon completing the book is that Arthur Smith is a bit of a good bloke, who loves life, loves his mum and dad and is quite philosophical about where his career choices have led him. The picture he paints of the life of a stand-up comedian is bitter sweet; by turns exhilarating and satisfying but also somewhat isolating and self-reflective.

Finally, he is not shy to have a dig and accuses Jimmy Carr of using post=modernist, ironic posturing to get away with offensive Manning-esque material. I have to agree with him…besides, Jimmy Carr is a bit of a tool.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2009 6:47 pm

    No of mention of the sterling chap that gifted this stirring tome?

    No stars for you then.

    • November 22, 2009 8:21 pm

      No, he is currently stealing Facebook identifies and so I want to distance myself from this kind of urchin.

  2. November 22, 2009 1:07 pm

    I quite like autobiographies because you can play the game of “reading between the lines” and pick up on things that the “celebrities” didn’t think they were telling you. I once read Jordan’s autobiography – I’ll hasten to add that I find her reprehensible and I certainly didn’t buy the book – and it was incredible that he went around slagging off men for doing things that she was doing to men. You can learn a lot from even the worst of society.

  3. November 22, 2009 8:26 pm

    Isn’t it kind of what you’d expect off of Jordan? – I never, ever got the impression that she was a babe in the woods. More like a silicon enhanced wolf.

    I watched some of Katie & Peter (Yes, I am ashamed) and the sad thing about Jordan is that she is quite a pretty girl, but when she puts the old war paint on for a big night out she looks like a tranny. That’s not a good look for a glamour girl.

  4. MrsShev permalink
    November 22, 2009 9:43 pm

    Slash’s autobiography – BRILLIANT!!!

  5. November 22, 2009 10:02 pm

    It’s certainly what you would expect of her – it’s just that she doesn’t think that she is portraying herself that way.

    She’s just a total disgrace.

  6. November 23, 2009 3:56 pm

    Come, come. Geri’s ‘auto’biography was fascinating. She stole loo rolls from the gym because she was too poor to buy them! (thank goodness she managed to find enough cash for the gym membership, sob). She loved singing and dancing from an early age! She once lived in a farmhouse. zkhdi Sorry, just nodded off while typing. Kinda agree with the whole autobiography thing. Though a nice stitch and bitch biography, well, that can be worth staying awake for.

    • November 23, 2009 4:36 pm

      I have to admit that I didn’t manage to take food from my children’s mouths and actually buy her autobiography. But it sounds…ummm. I hope that you recycle.

      I know what you mean about score-settling bios, but the media tend to report the juicy bits thus saving me the trouble of actually reading them. Poor journos.

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