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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Tension Steel
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...
Published on 5 Feb 2010 by S Wood

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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 married and mortgaged etc - is just boring. Discovering with surprise after an appearance on Question Time that a conservative panelist is not a bad guy gives a misleadingly puerile impression...
Published 17 months ago by Anglolawyer


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "...we know so much of it could be put right, but we have no idea how to make it happen.", 17 Aug 2010
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
By 
S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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
By 
J. Goddard "Jim Goddard" (Shipley) - See all my reviews
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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
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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
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This review is from: What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion (Kindle Edition)
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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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The personal is political, 5 Aug 2008
By 
M. McCann "rednotdead1976" (N Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Having read and devoured "Vive La Revolution", "Reasons to be Cheerful" and "It's Not a Runner Bean", I preordered this book and was really glad to get it earlier than expected. I recieved it at 4pm on the Thursday and by bedtime that night had finished 3/4 of it and completed the rest after work the next day. This has been my experience of all Mark Steel's books- they mix humour and great writing with political views that I happen to share and make for a book that you just want to read right through to the end. This is not a book to read in public, unless you don't mind people looking at you strangely when you keep laughing out loud! Mark also articulates the difficulties make of us have on the left with the manner certain things have been done, so it is good to see we are not on our own. I fully recommend this book- it is almost enough for me to start buying the Independent again on Wednesdays!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Steel Delivers again, 6 Aug 2008
Like the reviewer below, I ploughed through this book in no time. Insightful as always, and never dull. This book lacks the optimism of 'Reasons to be Cheerful', it's a darker book - as you really get the feeling Steel went through a serious crisis in his life. As a result, it's not as funny as his other books, the punchlines are spat out sarcastically. It's also more personal, as he lays his disintegrating relationship to bare.

As it charts the time I became politicized - 9/11 to the illegal and unwanted invasion of Iraq - I personally can really relate to how Mark's feeling.

It's well worth reading for anybody who is asking themselves the same question - What the HELL is going on?!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful book, 31 Dec 2008
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 out loud moments, here he perfectly captures the wistful sense of how in your middle years you can feel so alone and out of step with things - exactly as he says "what IS going on?" His themes are both intensely personal, and apply in a wider more general sense.

I do love it when comedians I admired 10 years ago go on to become great commentators!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 28 Oct 2012
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This review is from: What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion (Kindle Edition)
Love it. He is my favourite comedian and I love all his work. A clever man with so much talent.
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