Going to Sea in a Sieve: The Autobiography
Paperback 384 pages
23 May 2013
Of all the books featured on this site, Radio Presenter, TV Broadcaster, Journalist and Comedy Writer Danny Baker has the honour of being the first penner of an autobiography to be reviewed upon these hallowed pages. Furthermore, it one of the straightest unfalteringly funny intensely insightful and unabashedly optimistic books I have read in a very, very long time.
From the moment he ruined his dad’s planned beano to Margate on June 22 1957 (a situation I not only empathise with but have also discussed with Mr Baker on his Radio 5 Live Saturday morning show, given that I ruined my dad’s World Cup final of 1966 by being, well, born) to a chance remark that sets the second volume of his proposed memoirs up a treat, there is nothing in this collection of anecdotes that does not delight.
Even the sadder moments – of which there are few – are all tinged with a cornucopian philosophy of without the bad, how do you get to relish the good and besides, the truly brilliant is just around the corner anyway. This is due to in no small measure to the manner in which Baker manages to insert his own inimitable patteresque banteresque style into just about every syllable so it’s as though you’re not actually reading his life story but rather that you’ve sat down in the Dog & Duck and, with him opposite and across a couple of empty pint pots, he’s simply holding court for 350+ pages of unadulterated, entertaining joy.
What is even more implausible is that even if you don’t like Danny Baker – which I do, still, despite his referring to Queen’s music as “a racket” – or are haunted the thought of reruns of Quick on the Draw being aired 24/7 on GOLD, the fact remains that this is an autobiography so crammed with tales of unbridled brio it is almost impossible not to laugh out loud despite being seated on the crammed-to-the-rafters-full top deck of a 437 bus home, surrounded by fellow passengers who all look as though they’ve just been fired on Christmas Eve.
From joyous school times, through to working in a record shop into which regularly sauntered pre-fame Elton John, Mick Jagger and Marc Bolan and onto nearly drowning – in love but massively skint in Hawaii – this is an autobiography that should be read not only by those who like to peek behind the curtain of showbiz but by anybody who wants to have a bloody good time and forget their woes and worries for a while.
Never mind this broadcasting caper, Danny, get on with Volume II. I can hardly wait.