on 5 January 2014
A warm and tender memoir of a woman whose story is touching and, in many places heart-rending, without being overly sugary and mawkish.
The book takes us from 1950s black and white kitchen sink grimness - Liz Taylor lookalike Pauline, left in the lurch by a US serviceman, bullied into giving up the baby boy she can't afford to raise - to today - the wealthy, glamorous survivor, reunited with her son and looking forward to spending her dotage as the new Christine Hamilton.
Along the way, she meets an uppity ship's waiter union rep whose proposal - in a train loo - she mystifyingly accepts. John devotes his time and energy to harmonious industrial relations in that sweet natured way of his; ending up blacklisted by three shipping lines, it is Pauline who is left to cope when there's little money coming in. Her hairdressing pay allows him to go to University, the springboard to a political career that was only slightly less embarrassing than watching your mother lapdance.
Pauline couldn't care less about John's political life, judging Margaret Thatcher more by her (smart) appearance than her politics. She stands by her man through thick and thin and is naturally hurt when this loyalty is rewarded by shamelessly sordid infidelity. The book doesn't provide much insight into her reasoning, other than it allows Pauline to 'get away with murder now'. She even gets - notoriously at taxpayers' expense - a new downstairs loo out of the affair, and you can't really argue with that.
Anyone looking for a more tender and human side to John Prescott will need to look elsewhere - the public image of a seething and sulky bully is entirely accurate, it seems. When he's not stuffing his face, he's throwing it all up, screaming because he can't find the remote control, giving Pauline the silent treatment or exploding if she dares interrupt him. 'A bit of a bully' - Pauline's phrase - is putting it mildly. Reading this made me realise that maybe John did achieve something in his political career after all - he gave this gracious and likeable woman a well deserved bit of peace and quiet. I hope this book - touching, warm, funny and uplifting as it is - gets thrown at him regularly.