4 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
I first came across Arthur Smith on the much-missed (by me at least) Excess Baggage. This was Radio 4’s half-hour slot on travel where he was a warm and generous host. It seems that he has been around forever though, comedy on stage and the radio, writing books and plays, and most famously appearing on Grumpy Old Men, where he fitted the archetypical profile perfectly. He is very much a London Boy, and is the self-titled Night Mayor of Balham, as he doesn’t want to do days.
His life experience of all of these wide-ranging things he has done has been distilled down into this book of 100 Things That He Meant to Tell You. In here are poems, anecdotes, articles and snippets from his life. There is the odd rant about modern life, stories from his father, who was a policeman and memories of time spent with his mum as her dementia took over.
It is a bittersweet collection. There are some genuine laugh out loud moments within, so much so, that I was getting strange looks from my family when reading it. But there are other pieces that make you stop and put the book down for a moment and think. Especially the moments that he shares about his mum and dad. This book is just like Smith himself, what you see is what you get, warts and gravelly voice come included. Yes he is a little grumpy at times, but he is not vindictive with it, rather he is as happy to accept his flaws as he is the flaws in other people. If you have read, My Name is Daphne Fairfax, then you’ll love this; whatever you do though, try to avoid looking inside the rear flap!