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What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion

What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion [Kindle Edition]

Mark Steel
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Comedian Mark Steel has spent most of his life a committed, signed-up member of the Socialist Workers Party. The Labour Party coming to power in 1997 could have been the start of a new political dawn for Mark and for Britain. But instead, big business and war-mongering thrived under New Labour, and in many ways the working class seemed to become more marginalised. Petty bickering and in-fighting racked the SWP, numbers dwindled horribly, socialism became a dirty word and Mark Steel began to think the unthinkable . . . do I really want to belong to this rabble anymore?
At the same time, entering his forties, Mark's personal life began to disintegrate. Spending many sleepless nights on the sofa, watching inane cable TV into the early hours of the morning, Mark asked himself the question, 'What is Going On?' In a book that goes right to the heart of Britain and the problems it suffers today, Mark wonders why over a million people marching in London couldn't stop the war in Iraq, why supermarkets are killing the small town centres of Britain and why George Galloway went on Celebrity Big Brother destroying any political credibility he may have had in the blink of a cat's eye. Bitingly funny, poignant, sharply observed and very much of the moment, this is Mark Steel at his brilliantly intelligent best.


They say that life begins at forty, but for Mark Steel, it all started to go pear-shaped. WHAT'S GOING ON? is his brilliantly funny and moving attempt to make sense of his midlife crises.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 412 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (6 April 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9NUG
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #157,040 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Read only because this was lent to me by a colleague, this is not normally a book I would choose to read. My perception is that these days books written by comedians who turn 40 and have a mid-life crisis are ten-a-penny and I though this would be one of those books filled with pedestrian observations of hitting the big Four-O.

Oh, how wrong I was.

What's Going On paints a poignant, honest and at times heartbreaking parallel between the breakup of Mark Steel's relationship and his decision to part with his beloved Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). He writes without any pretension and is funny, thoughtful and insightful. There are some rousing passages peppered throughout the book about effecting change; but more than anything the book highlighted the desperate futility of the fight against the evils of Capitalism which the quote I have used in the title of this review I think sums up beautifully.

Whether you are sympathetic with Mark Steel's politics or not; I challenge anyone not to be a little bit moved by this book. Go on!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Tension Steel 5 Feb 2010
It's possible that even the hardest of hard right-wingers will feel some sympathy for comedian Mark Steels plight as he stumbles through his 40's. His relationship has gone belly up, the political party that he has been a member of since his teens has falling apart, one of his close political comrades has died, and if that's not bad enough, well . . . he's became a good friend of Bob Monkhouse.

Mark Steel weaves the belly laughs in with the more melancholy moments and creates a splendid memoir of his confused meanderings through the first half dozen or so years of the last decade. Whether he is talking about his failing relationship or his two kids, his experience of campaigning against the war in Iraq, super-markets, celebrities or schools, or even George Galloway there's a plentiful supply of wit and even a little wisdom too.

I found this one hard to put down and recommend keeping it aside for a long, empty and chore free afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter Therapy for Middle-aged Lefties 1 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read a couple of Mark Steel's other books, so I kind of knew what to expect. However, this has more depth and poignancy. That'll be due to age, I reckon (both his and mine).

His humour doesn't always work for me, but there is enough here to more than satisfy. Besides, I like it that his humour has a point to it and that, while he sometimes picks easy targets, he's never nasty or vicious. What I most liked was the sense of truth in his telling of how confusing things have become as he has got older. Also, the story of his marriage breakdown is told, as another reviewer mentions, withough bitterness and with due regard to privacy. Really not sure what one of the other reviewers means about him being 'grumpy'. Quite the opposite, I'd have said. Even when he is getting hacked off with the SWP, you can see there's more affection there than anything else.

Because of the honesty about the political changes he's seen, the book has contemporary relevance. Anyone who has had any experience of the left these past twenty years or so (and I'm on the pink, tepid, Labour Party edge of the left) will instantly get where he's coming from. Sometimes it helps to laugh, so long as you don't get cynical.

I loved it and would recommend it to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of giggles 17 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a gift for my husband who is a big fan. I chose a good one as I have heard him laughing and giggling a lot lately.
Great price
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amusingly deflating and uplifting 7 Jan 2013
Socialist comedian and BBC Radio 4 regular hits 40 and finds a world of confusion. His marriage is falling apart, the Socialist Workers Party isn't behaving like it should and absolutely everything seems to be determined by profit and monetary value. The book actually covers about 7 years of Mark's life and he articulates the confusion of his life in a meaningful way. While he finds the humour in his situation, he does so in a balanced and honest way.

There are a couple of shortcomings to the book. I hesitate to suggest hypocrisy but its hard to think of another word for when Steel complains that the Oxbridge set live in a world apart from ordinary people when he himself is mentioning his appearances on Newsnight, making series for the BBC and so on. While it is, no doubt, for comic effect he regularly uses very over-the-top similes; would having the then-Chancellor of the Exchequer giving a speech at the 20th anniversary party of The Independent really be like the president of France giving a keynote speech in the kitchen on your mother's birthday? Not really, no.

Overall the book is a good read and, as bleak as Mark's life seems sometimes, it is full of hope, humour and honesty. As long as you are able to put up with the sledgehammer-to-a-walnut similes and metaphors I would heartily recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A noble, funny man with unshakable principles 27 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Mark talks us through his political and personal journey which is fraught with pitfalls, disappointments and the odd high. It is sprinkled with a dark and witty humour that not only makes you chuckle but also manages to focus the reader on the serious message he is trying to address. I loved every minute of it and he also appeared to gain our trust in allowing us to share his personal anguish and challenges when faced with a separation from his partner. A great read with enough to keep you enthralled and entertained.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars True dat, homeboii
This is a book, this is a book about things.
Published 1 month ago by scott redmond
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Steel's best work
I am usually a big fan of this author but this account of the conflicts inherent in reconciling his socialist beliefs with the banality of everyday life - growing older, being... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Anglolawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Love it. He is my favourite comedian and I love all his work. A clever man with so much talent.
Published 22 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable!
Ive almost finished the book, I admit I hadnt seen Mark Steels work and still havent, although I might look him up later as this is a really good book! Read more
Published on 26 Feb 2012 by Nena Sings
5.0 out of 5 stars View from the left
I first came across Mark Steel as a comedian on Radio 4. Later I read some of his journalism. And I have read other books by him. He is what used to be called a "loony lefty". Read more
Published on 16 Mar 2010 by Mr. R. Friend
4.0 out of 5 stars Relationship breakdowns and the Socialist Worker's Party. Quite funny.
A whole book in which a self-confessed middle-aged man compares his own relationship break-up with the gradual demise of the Socialist Worker's Party should, by definition, be... Read more
Published on 22 Mar 2009 by Mr. Stuart Bruce
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the funniest guys in the UK
This hilarious book exactly mirrored my life at the time of reading - a disillusionment with marriage and the organised left (despite having faith in both). Read more
Published on 12 Mar 2009 by Paul Wellings
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful book
Mark Steel has written a really great book, I found it poignant and compulsive reading. More serious and personal than some of his previous works, but still with some huge laugh... Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2008 by West London woman
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