5.0 out of 5 stars Baggage
Explains quite a bit about why Janet Street Porter is the way she is. Very enjoyable. Looking forward to the next instalment.
Published 4 months ago by C. Mason
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars so what?
It's very hard to know what to make of this book. I confess that the only reason I bought it was because I had read an absolutely savage review of it elsewhere, and I wanted to know what it was that had caused such bile on the part of the reviewer. Janet Street-Porter is one of those people who are always trumpeted as being "controversial", and her biog. certainly...
Published on 25 May 2004 by S. Hapgood
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars so what?,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's very hard to know what to make of this book. I confess that the only reason I bought it was because I had read an absolutely savage review of it elsewhere, and I wanted to know what it was that had caused such bile on the part of the reviewer. Janet Street-Porter is one of those people who are always trumpeted as being "controversial", and her biog. certainly seemed to be having that effect, so I thought I would give it a go. The first thing I noticed was that I really wasn't getting as much as I thought I was. It's a small hardback, with big print and blank pages between chapters, an old trick to make a book look more substantial that it really is. Not only that but a lot of these pages are taken up with old desperately dull black-and-white family photographs. The publicity blurb markets the book as the answer to anyone wanting to know what it was that made J S-P the person she is, which can only result in a bemused shoulder-shrugging reaction as far as I can see!
J S-P herself seems to want us to believe that she had a traumatic childhood. Now I don't know about you but when someone says they had a traumatic childhood, I think of harrowing tales I've heard of abuse, neglect, severe deprivation, putting up with alcohol- or drug-dependant parents, or growing up in the grimmest kind of Care. J S-P suffered none of these. She was well cared for, got given everything her hardworking parents could afford, was not beaten or abused, or humiliated on a regular basis. Her parents obviously weren't the warmest or most affectionate of people, but that was pretty par for the course for a lot of working-class families at the time. Their biggest "crime" was a lack of imagination, but in their own way they did want the best for her. Perhaps I missed something vital here, but J S-P gives us an example of something that happened when she was 14, which she seriously wants us to believe was an example of how "cruel" her parents could be ...er, they decided to move house. I had a sort of confused, open-mouthed reaction to that one!
J S-P has said she didn't write this book as any kind of score-settling, but it sure as heck feels that way! Her constant crowing that her mother was jealous of her success, because her mother had to leave school at 14, just sounds horribly mean-spirited. It's like some terrible joke, the self-important media darling with the inflated ego ranting about what a deprived upbringing they had! This isn't exactly "Mommie Dearest" or "A Child Called It", more a 276-page whinge of "my parents didn't understand me". If you're interested in what it was like to grow up in a terraced house in Fulham in the 1950s, with the family listening to "Two-Way Family Favourites" over Sunday lunch, and summer holidays in North Wales (when the poor deprived darling would rather have stayed in London), then this is the book for you, for me it was a thundering disappointment. The most startling thing about it for me was the revelation that J S-P seems to have inherited her father's complete lack of a sense of humour!
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fortunate Girl I'd say!!,
By A Customer
I have to agree with the top reviewer here. I read this book with an open mind as I quite like the author, but gradually I began to wonder what on earth Mrs J Street-Porter had to worry about during her childhood! I think the thing that really annoyed me was when she announced that she (and her sister) got £1 per week pocket money in, if my maths are correct, somewhere around 1962 !!!! Sounds pretty good to me - I think I got half a crown (whatever that is).
I believe she needs to come to terms with the fact that her parents, siblings, upbringing and, yes, the dreaded house-move, made her the person she is today - strong and resourceful and a role model for young women everywhere. There are many books around today describing disadvantaged backgrounds but, alas, this isn't one of them. I would have preferred to read an optimistic book about how she achieved such a high-flying career!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A horrible book,
Firstly, I do like Janet Street-Porter, I have always admired her strength of character and think she is a good journalist and broadcaster. I decided to give her first memoir 'Baggage' a go after reading about this dreadful mother and awful childhood that she claims to have had. Big mistake!
The fact is, on the evidence of this book Janet had a perfectly normal childhood and was brought up by decent, hard-working people who cared and looked out for her. The young Janet was a terrible snob and considered these working-class people to be uninteresting, unintelligent and 'cruel' because they moved her from one house to another one! She comes across as a truly horrible and self centered individual who has written a book without any consideration for anyone else (it was rather disturbing to read that she once was so full of hate that she actually tried to murder her sister). Because she hasn't had the difficult upbringing that she still believes to this day - 'Baggage' makes for very dull reading indeed. Possibly a book written by Janet only to be read by Janet.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ordinary baggage,
An interesting title for a book of Janet's childhood. I had heard her speak about her horrendous mother on t.v. so I wanted to know what that was all about. What a spoilt, selfish, snobbish and self-absorbed person Janet Street Porter is! This is an ordinary upbringing in London and the suburbs but the author's emotions are remarkable. Being moved away from friends but still within visiting distance is hardly worthy of all the hatred she nurtured over the years. I loved it when Janet relayed the story of her sister stealing her money and running away. Janet was angry that she didn't have the brains or guts to think of it first. Her early experiences with men are sad and pathetic. Janet, you have a made a big fuss about nothing - grow up already!
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars J S-P Baggage,
By A Customer
I bought the book because I like an insight into the lives of ordinary people who have become successful. This book was disappointing. The tiny print and double spacing show just how little effort went into the writing. J S-P tells the story of any working class child in London during the time of her childhood yet she has unsuccessfully attempted to create the impression she was alone in her suffering. - If you can call it that? It is a story of a child living quite comfortably, not poverty stricken, abused or beaten, but one who is so wrapped up in her own self worth that she fails to see her book is the tale of an attention seeker looking for sympathy. Mainly it is just a rant at the only people who ever loved a 'manipulative bully' - as she has recently been described in the press.
N.B. I was running out of space on my book shelves so I didnt know what to do with the book that should be titled waste of space. My husband suggested that I should throw it away - that is what I did.
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A memoir filled with resentment,
Hmmm what to make of this book? It definitely has both good and bad points. On the plus side I think it's pretty well-written. The hardcover format is set out in double line spacing which makes it very easy to read, and Janet's anecdotes and tales are quite entertaining. I particularly enjoyed her recollection of attempted murder on her sister because she had 'grown tits before Janet' and Janet's wit and sarcasm is evident throughout the book.
However on the minus side I have to, like other reviewers, comment on her actual memories. After reading the book I felt that Janet Street-Porter had wrote her childhood memoir simply to let the world know how much she disliked her parents. It becomes apparent from quite early on that her relationship with them isn't straightforward; 'if anyone wants to know why I started to really loathe my parents...'. The problem is that this theme continues through the whole book and invades her memories of other things. For example when she visits friends in Cornwall she insists on mentioning that in comparison to her,her 'parents seemed small-minded dreary people who were satisfied with holidays in Spain and trips to the pub'. She also criticises her mother for always asking that 'I'd come home safely and take care, whatever that meant'. From reading the book I understood that to mean that they actually cared about their daughter - something which Janet is clearly unable to see. It seems as though this book as been advertised as a memoir of Janet's extremely difficult childhood, but this is definitely not the case. Probably her most difficult experiences were her parents uprooting her when she was 14 which I can empathise with (but to still be seething about it all these years later is a bit worrying) and taking her on regular trips to Wales to visit her family. How unbelievably torturous - I wonder why social services weren't called!
After completing the book I felt as though Janet suffered a severe case of teenage angst with her parents but unfortunately never grew out of it. I didn't get on with my father with I was younger but as I grew up we started to build bridges and realised that our differences were simply a case of being generations apart. This is probably why I felt so strongly when I read all of Janet's vitriolic comments about her parents - I could relate to the fact that they definitely weren't perfect and it sounds as though there was certainly a large generation gap but I felt sad that Janet's anger towards them was still so intense after all these years.
Overall, a relatively interesting read, although I felt too long was spent describing her early childhood. The book also ends quite abruptly when Janet leaves home during her college years - it would have been more interesting for the book to include just a little bit of information as to how Janet became involved within the media. The book definitely didn't do Janet justice, as it was disappointing to see such a strong, determined woman unable to let go of issues long in the past.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Keep the home fires burning?,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
"Quick to criticise, slow to praise", is so, so easy and is something I try to avoid. I'm compelled to make an exception here. Having recently strayed onto BBC's "Masterchef" and Miss Street-Porter - she interested me; big mistake. Having bought this grubby little offering (Second-hand - grateful for that) I realised why there was an interest - for all the wrong reasons. Her unceasing diatribe revolves around her "common and deprived" upbringing and her desperate, truly desperate (Tissues at the ready folks) attempts to escape the monotony of it all; quickly followed by trying to move in the "right??" circles together with accompanying sexual escapades and "misdemeanours", shall we say. Maybe I'm being unfair; maybe she did have it rough and someone like me is incapable of seeing it. For example: Two solid roof's over her head (The second a substantial semi-detached, OMG - the shame of it), holidays, meals on the table, employment through strings being pulled etc, etc. However, reading how she had to drag herself up from a grammar education, with an offer of further study in New York etc - only then did my heart truly go out to her. Get real.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't!!!,
Don't bother to read this book. It confirmed my views that Ms Street-Porter is a selfish, self-opinionated, attention-seeking lover of limelight! She does not think about or appreciate the sacrifices her parents may have made for her to receive such a good education, which has enabled her to leave her working class roots far behind. What a contrast to Alan Bennett's 'A Life Like Other People's' in which Mr. Bennett looks back on his working class childhood with honesty, humour, tenderness and affection.
'Baggage; My Childhood' was given to me & I left it in a hotel room in Cambodia! I am glad I didn't pay for it!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Baggage: My Childhood, by Janet Street Porter,
A shallow book written by a shallow, self-opinionated, brash woman, whose main aim, early on, seemed to be to 'lose' her virginity - a commodity that surely can only be 'lost' during rape or other unwilling sexual encounter. No, this woman, who appeared to dislike everybody - including herself - thrust this unwanted possession of hers, on a plate, at any man she was able to lure. What a waste of life and talent - she was abvoiusly quite a clever, academically able person. I am glad I only paid 1p plus postage for this book. As far as I am concerned it wasn't even worth that much and I have given it to a charity shop. I shall certainly read no more of M/S Street Porter's writings.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dry yer eyes, Janet.,
I was so grateful that I only borrowed this from a library to get me through the endless pre-labour days and even then I found reading this book a total drag. She moans endlessly about her dreary suburban parents, and in doing so has produced an utterly dreary book herself. I can only assume that it was her luvvy pals who wrote those fawning reviews on the jacket. JSP = a humourless (and at times, a shockingly manipulative) ingrate. Avoid.
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Baggage: My Childhood by Janet Street-Porter