Sunday 29 October 2017

Guest Review: Back Story by David Mitchell

David Mitchell, who you may know for his inappropriate anger on every TV panel show except Never Mind the Buzzcocks, his look of permanent discomfort on C4 sex comedy Peep Show, his online commenter-baiting in The Observer or just for wearing a stick-on moustache in That Mitchell and Webb Look, has written a book about his life.

As well as giving a specific account of every single time he's scored some smack, this disgusting memoir also details:

• the singular, pitbull-infested charm of the FRP (‘Flat Roofed Pub’)

• the curious French habit of injecting everyone in the arse rather than the arm

• why, by the time he got to Cambridge, he really, really needed a drink

• the pain of being denied a childhood birthday party at McDonalds

• the satisfaction of writing jokes about suicide

• how doing quite a lot of walking around London helps with his sciatica

• trying to pretend he isn’t a total **** at Robert Webb’s wedding

• that he has fallen in love at LOT, but rarely done anything about it

• why it would be worse to bump into Michael Palin than Hitler on holiday

• that he’s not David Mitchell the novelist. Despite what David Miliband might think

Review: This is the comedian David Mitchell's memoirs, describing his childhood, school days, university life and his breakthrough into the world of entertainment. Although there is plenty of humour in the book, there are some serious insights into life. Prior to reading the book, my impression of David Mitchell was limited to that of the persona he projects in his television appearances, but he comes across in the book as a more rounded, pensive individual.

One of the reasons I was keen to read the book was that he and I went to the same college at Cambridge University, where he read history, so I was interested to compare his experiences with mine. I can concur with his observation that, for students reading natural sciences or medicine and had lectures all day and every day, it was like having a full-time job. I read natural sciences. Our times at Cambridge did not overlap. I started my final year in the same calendar year in which he was born. However, I was pleased to discover that we did have one thing in common. His director of studies in the college had been my tutor (at Cambridge, a tutor is not a teaching position but is involved with welfare issues).

I enjoyed reading the book. It was full of wry observations, as may be expected from a professional comedian, but also had some serious things to say. Although there is more to the book than his Cambridge years, there is much to interest to fellow Cantabrians.

To order your copy, just click the link: UK or US

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