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Autobiography at its finest
on 17 February 2004
Wit, raconteur, art connoisseur, surrealist, lascivious jazzman, sexual athlete and wearer of some of the most dangerous suits in Britain, Melly's autobiography is every bit as provocative and bizarre as the man himself.
Written in reverse order but rearranged into chronological order in this edition, it's best to tackle the volumes that way round.
Scouse Mouse covers George's upper-middle-class childhood in Liverpool between the wars. This is a fascinating account of his family, the arts scene in Liverpool, and of a city and lifestyle now almost completely vanished; there are plenty of laughs along the way too.
Rum, Bum and Concertina describes Melly's spell in the Royal Navy, his burgeoning sexuality, and his contact and involvement with the London art world, in particular the Surrealists. Probably the weakest of the three, but again a fascinating portrait of two very different aspects of his life.
Owning Up sees George falling victim to the dreaded curse of Jazz, describing in scabrous, lip-smacking and often highly self-deprecating detail his torrid days with Mick Mulligan's band. At the end of this book he decides to forsake the jazz life for writing and broadcasting...
...but of course an afterword describes his subsequent jazz career with John Chilton ;)
George is a national treasure; his books are warm, acerbic, waspish, astonishingly perceptive and almost infinitely readable. A real treat.