It's taken me a long time to get around to reading this - I bought it when I saw Mark Live at Pendennis Castle, must have been soon after it was published. He was superb; my boyfriend had told me I'd enjoy the show, and I did.
But now I've finally read Reasons to be Cheerful, I'm a little bit in love with Mark Steel - an intelligent, passionate, political man who makes me laugh - and wish I could remember anything he'd said to us after the show...
I've nodded in agreement all the way through the book, at Steel's spot-on similes. In 1997 I was (naively) voting New Labour in my first General Election, aged only 21. But as Steel's commentary on times I remember seems so astute and in tune with my own recollections, I'm happy to have him form part of my education of the politics and events I just missed out on.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone even slightly left wing, or just anyone intelligent with a sense of humour. Steel had me giggling like an idiot on my own at the bus-stop, and looking forward to the usually laborious bus-ride either side of my working day.
But it's not all laughs. Steel write so lucidly and accessibly about his political road to adulthood, at turns making me frustrated and angry at world events I'd forgotten, and moving me with poignant episodes from his personal life.
Half way through, I couldn't stop myself ordering Steels's other two books, which should be with me tomorrow.
Perhaps most importantly, I really DID feel cheered by Mark Steel's words, buoyed by his eternal optimism. I also started to feel I'm not doing enough. I write letters, I go on the odd march, I live responsibly, I shop ethically, blah blah blah...but really, perhaps I should be doing more, shouting a bit louder...