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The Necessary Aptitude: A Memoir [Hardcover]

Pam Ayres
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 15.46 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

15 Sep 2011

'NEXT, I APPLIED TO WORK IN THE ACCOUNTS DEPARTMENT, a sealed room where women operated clattering machines like enormous typewriters. After I had catastrophically and erroneously applied all the wrong information to several trolley loads of documents and lumbered the staff with weeks of corrective work, I was shown the door by a tight-lipped manageress. I knew what was coming. Over the relentless, furious din of machinery, I lip-read the familiar words: "Lacks the necessary aptitude."'

Pam Ayres' early childhood in Stanford in the Vale was idyllic in many ways, and typical of that experienced by a great swathe of children born in rural areas in the immediate post-war years. Though her parents' generation was harrowed by war, better times were coming. Everything the family needed was within walking distance in the village, and life with four older brothers and a sister in their crowded council house was exceedingly lively.

In her late teens, Pam grew dissatisfied with her life as a Civil Service clerk with only the local 'hop' for scintillating excitement. Having seen three of her brothers called up for National Service and sent off to exciting destinations, Pam felt desperate for travel and adventure. She joined the WRAF and soon found herself in the Far East. There she began to write in earnest, and develop the unique talent that would make her one of Britain's favourite comics...

Written with Pam's much-loved combination of humour and poignancy, The Necessary Aptitude is a beautifully written memoir of her early years.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (15 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091940486
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091940485
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pam Ayres has been a regular on television and radio since winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1975 - on Just a Minute, The Comedy Quiz, Countdown and her own series, Ayres on the Air. She performs her solo stage show throughout Britain and around the world and has a huge fan base in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Pam is one of Britain's best-loved personalities and was awarded the MBE in 2004.

Product Description


"Ayres gives a wonderful account of what it was like to grow up poor but respectable in post-war rural England. Some of her writing in the early chapters, describing life as the youngest of six children in a council cottage in the Vale of White Horse, Berkshire, has the original freshness of classics such as Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford" (Kathryn Hughes Mail on Sunday)

"I find her work sweet and sour, gentle and sad, and often very moving in its wistful way ...The descriptions of post-war Berkshire life in The Necessary Aptitude are wonderful ... The world Ayres evokes is Hardy's Wessex ... I do admire (and envy) this marvellous woman" (Roger Lewis Daily Mail)

Book Description

The eagerly-awaited memoir by one of Britain's most-loved personalities

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
This book was one of the most enjoyable I have read in many a moon.

It traces her life and career starting from the post-war growing up as the youngest of six children in a council cottage in the Vale of White Horse, Berkshire. From there it moves on to schooling and subsequent joining the Women's Royal Air Force and her posting to Singapore and Germany, where she blossomed. Her description of watching a camelion changing colour is magical.

From there it moves on to her subsequent jobs and the events that led up to her winning the tacky "Opportunity Knocks" talent show, with its slimy host Hughie Green and the dreaded "clap-o-meter" measuring device, so stops around 1975.

The title refers to the number she was knocked down during her life and told she "did not have the necessary aptitude" to succeed. The story is told with much humour, as you might expect, and is very touching in parts.

Call me an old softie, but I thought the book was brilliant.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely fascinating! 20 Sep 2011
Absolutely fascinating! You have seen Pam Ayres over 30 years on TV now and it was time to get to know her a bit more and find out about her upbringing in the post war England, her careers and her social life. Beautifully written and highly entertaining.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What can I Say? 1 Nov 2011
Having re discovered Pam a few years ago and having had the great pleasure of seeing her on stage I thought her autobiography would probably be a good read.
Of all the autobiographies I've ever read this has to be the best. Her friendly relaxed down to earth style of writing is quite charming and you feel she is writing as though conversing with you as a friend.
Despite all of Pam's success she comes as across as having no " Ayres and Graces."
I do hope Pam does another follow up from 1976.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brought back memories 18 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Being the same age, and from same area Berkshire, as it was, mentioned places that I knew. She's got a better memory than me, And I really enjoyed reading it!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks for the memories 30 Oct 2011
By Nic
Where to dentist had died; an embarrassing number of years ago - I had meant to find a new one but it was always low down on my `to-do' I was suffering from a grumbling tooth; it was a Friday afternoon and I faced the prospect of full blown toothache over the weekend when no help would be available. I managed to get an emergency appointment at a local dentist and sat in the waiting room castigating myself for being so stupid and fully expecting a stern faced dentists criticism and the word 'dentures' to be bandied about freely... Pam's poem 'Oh I wish I'd looked after me teeth' rolling round in my mind as the dental nurse led me up the stairs like a condemned man. All the dentist I had known were blokes and I was wrong footed when a young, female dentist introduced herself... suppressing laughter at my manic apologising for letting my teeth fall into such a state.

The next day, after buying an electric tooth brush and expensive toothpaste, I was browsing in a local bookshop when Pam's memoir 'The Necessary Aptitude' caught my eye. I'm not a great reader of memoirs, but this seemed an odd coincidence, so I bought a copy and read it cover to cover over the weekend.

This is a lovely book, with a nice mix of humour and poignancy, honestly told. You will find yourself reading it in Pam's distinctive accent [I can't be the only one who does this] and having lots of `I remember that' moments. I particularly liked the memories of the folk club scene in the 70's... Bob Dylan's 'To Ramona' [sigh], Fred Wedlock [we bought his songs on vinyl at the exit and sang them on beery jaunts around the local pubs] and the laid back attitude in the clubs where anyone could get up and perform - the good, the bad and the ugly...
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pam Ayres at her best. 27 Oct 2011
A good laugh from page one.Pam writes the way she speaks!!!I laughed out aloud.I cannot wait for the next one.A good book for the ladies to curl up with , with a cuppa.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Necessary Aptitude 2 Jan 2012
I love reading and this book is one of those that once you start you will find it exceptionally hard to put down again. It's fascinating to read about eras long past especially from such an acclaimed author. Well done Pam and thank you for taking me on such a breath taking journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pam Ayres book 18 Dec 2011
By Sue
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Interesting book with lovely old photos - very good value for money. This is a present and I'm sure will be greatly received.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
ordered for someone else
Published 10 days ago by j.a.carpenter
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
very funny
Published 1 month ago by sue mckeown
4.0 out of 5 stars Well received
My mum loved this, as Pam Ayers was a big star in the 70's. For the right person this is a good gift.
Published 1 month ago by Shutter
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Husband really enjoyed listening to this whilst driving his truck.
Published 1 month ago by PETULA BAKER
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyable and a great
This book reminds me of my childhood. Really enjoyable and a great read
Published 1 month ago by Linda Scudder
5.0 out of 5 stars who could not like Pam Ayres
who could not like Pam Ayres. I thoroughly enjoyed this autobiography that enhanced my view of her as a delightful person. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mary Maureen Eatherden
4.0 out of 5 stars Ayes and Graces
Saw here stage show recently, which I enjoyed very much so thought I would try her memoirs. Only on the first part of book but so far funny and interesting and well written.
Published 3 months ago by Don
4.0 out of 5 stars Rhymer's Remembrances
Pam has a canny knack of moving you from laughter to tears and back second by second. MUST be read.!
Published 3 months ago by Mary (UK)
5.0 out of 5 stars pam ayres memoir
This is a very good read it is well written, easy to read, mostly funny but poignant at the same time
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. J. P. Bexton
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it and was sorry to finish it
I was lucky enough to see Pam perform recently at Aylesbury and to meet her afterwards at the book signing. She is such a natural and unspoiled celebrity. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lovejoy
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