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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll get drunk just reading it..., 27 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Behind The White Ball: My Autobiography (Paperback)
For the armchair sporting public, Jimmy White remains an icon of the days when snooker was fun, when players knocked back the vodkas instead of poncy mineral water, and when they hit the front pages as often as the back ones. White contributed (much) more than his fair share of the debauchery and tells us about some of it in this book.
Behind the White Ball mirrors Jimmy’s life in form as well as content. It tells like a good round of stories in the pub. The chapters veer unsteadily from drinking binges in London, the ensuing hangover (in Dublin), taking in Canada, Tasmania, Hong Kong, India and anywhere else where the balls are set up and the bar is open. Jimmy was there, getting up to God knows what. The book has a habit of avoiding dates and times. They don’t matter. Jimmy probably doesn’t remember anyway. Whatever happened was just one more comedy of errors in his life. Who cares what year it was?
He tells his tale exactly as you’d expect, free of both arrogance and false modesty, a thoroughly likeable character whose treatment of his wife is the only black mark. Unlike Alex Higgins and other Professional Lads, he never seems like someone you’d cross the street to avoid. Even when, perhaps inevitably given his lifestyle, Jimmy hits the rocks with personal difficulties and serious illness, everything is told with humour (he’s still Jimmy after all) but a contrasting poignancy as well, particularly when recounting his late brother’s unconventional send-off.
The misses? Well, a blurb on the back regards the book as ‘refreshingly free of snooker’. It’s true that BTWB sensibly avoids the endless rehashing of old matches, Player A won a frame, Player B scored a 75 to draw level etc. But perhaps Jimmy could have reminisced a little more about his great matches. How did he really feel about the missed black in 1994? What did he do afterwards, who did he speak to? We learn very little of the pin-drop moments when the green baize enthralled the nation, and of which he was such a big part. His matches with Higgins, Hendry, and Thorburn. He remarks early on of how enchanting he found the ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of a snooker hall. Could he not have elaborated as he progressed from dingy clubs to Wembley and the Crucible?
But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t thoroughly enjoy BTWB. You can read it in a couple of hours but you’ll come back to it (or certain chapters) far more often. And Jimmy WILL win the world title. Just you wait.
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