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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh to be a working-class hero, 6 Feb. 2011
This review is from: Straight Up: My Autobiography (Hardcover)
Danny Dyer, as both man and actor, is a character whom fascinates me. Over the last decade he has inexorably morphed into a cultural youth phenomena. And he has done it in such a stealthy and persistent fashion, that all of a sudden he is there - a `force', to borrow his own language - that seems to have just appeared. We stroll into a HMV, visit a pal's house, channel surf through late-night TV and he is there: in piled stacks of DVDs or screaming out at us from the noisy screen itself. I first noted how embedded in our senses he was becoming during my army years; many a night I'd be on guard duty and there'd be a Dyer movie playing in the background, serving to keep sleepy-eyed `bods' awake; or I'd saunter into a pal's room and find a gang of snoozy squaddies and boozed-up NCOs laughing uproariously at a cannabis-crazed Moff speech from Human Traffic.

We were all laughing at this mad-eyed `Cockney wide-boy' but we were remembering too - and his characters were becoming a much-loved part of our psyches. For a generation of working-class lads Dyer and his creations - even if they appear repetitive to snootier types - have become intimately assimilated with the `best years of our lives'. He represents the best nights out `on the lash' that you've ever had; the `biggest kicking' you've ever received; the `maddest fight' you've ever got into; the best mate you've ever had; and the gorgeous girl with the `big jooblies' that you finally had your wicked way with, before fleeing from her enraged boyfriend. Basically, to an entire generation he simply represents - us.

`Us' as we'd like to have been or us as we actually were, during the younger, wilder and more insane moments of our lives

The book is a wonderful read and absorbing insight into Danny's private life and long, hard slog, from a teenage Canning Town tearaway, terrorising the streets and neighbours in a vast council estate, to a confused kid almost stumbling into a drama class and realising in an instant that he'd found his life-long calling - and he could still be himself. The story is told in Danny's own distinctive voice and you get the feeling that he's sat in the pub with you, laying it all out, over a pint, a fag and a crafty wink or two. The quality of writing, the text, the narrative, the pace and structure - it's all superb and doesn't miss a beat, the effort shining through.

There are many surprises in the book and a few tales about the `Brit-flick' industry that will raise your eyebrows; his close friendship and work with the legendary playwright Harold Pinter; his affectionate respect for Sir Patrick Moore; his clashes with inflated showbiz egos and feuds with snobby critics whom review his films with sneering contempt, and betray their own class-ridden agenda and loathing for those who've had the temerity to rise above humble origins, and threaten their own unearned positions. He's at his acerbic best in mocking the `silver spoon' brigade and dishes back their cruel putdowns ten-fold, asking quite rightly, that if they rush to damn him as a cliché then what the hell are they, with their contrived `right on' PC credentials and ivory tower pronouncements, whom can only criticise but not create?

I look forward to the next instalment in Danny's life and career with relish; if ever he wants to play a `hard-as-nails' cockney army NCO then I know of a good script that's doing the rounds...

Steven McLaughlin,
Author of Squaddie: A Soldier's Story
Mainstream Publishing
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Jun 2011 09:33:42 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 Jun 2011 09:34:42 BDT
baffo says:
Why do you keep saying "whom" in your review? I don't understand what it means. Is it the same as "who"? If so why don't you say "who" instead? Then maybe i'd understand a bit more! Good review though, am definitely getting this now.
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