on 20 January 2008
What a fascinating character!
One of those books that I was reluctant to finish as the last page drew nearer.
Prior to reading this book I only knew Peter Ustinov as the delightful character Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie films. But I learned that he had a very long career in the theatre and that his talents seemed to include almost all areas in it.
His background alone makes for interesting reading. He is the child of Russian immigrants who settled in England but his (very talented) ancestors came from far and wide and included countries such as Ethiopia and Israel.
Parts of the book is written in the style of a soul searching dialogue between Peter Ustinov and himself, hence the title. He makes some insightful comments about life and the world. In general throughout the book I was struck by what appears to be the extreme intelligence of someone who oddly enough did not do well in school.
Many parts of the book are pure entertainment. I laughed aloud in many places. His descriptions of his eccentric relatives, his experiences in the army, how he dealt with rebellious students at Durham university are all very funny.
I can recommend this book. It is highly entertaining and amusing. But it also contains some insightful observations by a highly intelligent, observant and unique personality.
on 18 June 2009
Autobiography usually sets the record crooked. This one is diffent: it is LIFE seen from the corner of an eye. This passage (pp 139-140) says all that need be said:
<Here I stood in my civilian clothes, together with a few other depressed recruits, staring into a roaring fire, under the penetrating scrutiny of an old sweat who had remained a private soldier for nigh on forty years. He had lived totally without ambition, with a clear, precise concept of his position in society. The coming of war had prevented his retirement, and now he studied us and our civilian sadness with eyes both critical and kind.
'I'd 'ave to cast me mind back forty years and more to put myself in your shoes, an' yet I remembers it as though it was yesterday,' he mused, and then, with a sudden buoyancy, he added, `There was an old sweat like myself to greet me the day I said goodbye to civvie street, and I'll tell you the story he told me to cheer me up, see. The story went as follows. Once upon a time there was two private soldiers engaged in latrine fatigues. It was autumn, and they was sweepin' the bits o' soiled toilet-paper into piles for incineration, see, when a gust o' autumn wind come along, and sent one of these bits o' bumph up in the air like a leaf, just out o' reach o' the two men, and before they could do anything about it, it 'ad gone in the Colonel's window. Now one of the men says to the other, "Listen, you go on sweepin' up. If there's any questions asked, I've been taken short. It's only 'uman, isn't it? Meanwhile, I'll go in there and try to get that bit of soiled bumph back. The old man's quite deaf, short-sighted an' all, 'e may not notice me." After a couple o' minutes, 'e's back, see, and the other private, still sweepin' away, says, "Well?"
`The first private shakes 'is 'ead, gloomy-like. "I was too late," 'e said. "'E'd already signed it."'>
If you don't enjoy this book and learn from it, I'm sorry for you.
on 16 February 2010
Those of us old enough to have watched the world of theatre, film and television emerging from the aftermath of the war will have been aware of Peter Ustinov as a gentle, humourous but imaginative actor, director and comedian. His autobiography more than illustrates the background against which he grew and developed into the person he was - it involves you, and entices you to get to know this man. His distant parents (he was an only child), conventional schooling, against which he rebelled, tongue in cheek; his time at drama school, and then in the Army - all these he recounts with a mixture of almost sentimentality, and disdain, laughingthe while. Hearing him read his own writing, with his amazing ability to mimic almost any style of ch aracter with whom he came into contact, is compelling - I was reluctant to stop after a couple of hours listening, while on a long car journey - and there's still more to come. Can't wait!
on 16 July 2013
I am still enjoying this book, but I would not recommend it to readers who expect it to be funny throughout. It has some very comic and hilarious situation, which are highly entertaining but it is also interspersed with some serious issues and profound thoughts beautifully written.
on 18 October 2014
Encountered by accident as a reference in another book,I had watched Ustinov in my youth so thought it worth a read. Well worth the effort, an enjoyable sojourn through reflections with himself of events which he knows only to well but where you are taken along for the ride in situations which (with maturity) you will probably recall in outline. Anyone who knew of him would enjoy the same journey. A frank and fairly honest look at the life of what would now be termed a superstar but in a time where such was considered to be vulgar but which gives the book an endearing quality. A right good read.ght
on 28 June 2011
Looking for a present that I could give to a friend (of advancing years) is not a simple task, especially when the friend has almost 'everything he could ever want'. I was searching for something with depth, wit and anecdotes that he could visit not once, but many times.
So, it was with delight that I found and bought "Dear Me", Peter Ustinov, for his 70th birthday. He was very pleased to receive the CD gift, has added it to his collection and said that he would immensely enjoy listening to it.
I am happy that he has something that he can appreciate.
on 7 April 2015
I like reading biographys about my favourite actors but this didn't hold my interest to continue after the first couple of chapters. I knew Peter was a very talented, clever and educated man but his writing is too complicated for me. He waffles on about geographical history and events that happen years before his birth and eventually I lost the plot completely. After fighting to stay awake got completely bored and gave the book away. Sorry Peter.