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At My Mother's Knee...: And Other Low Joints Paperback – 4 Jun 2009
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Paul O'Grady, apart from being one of Britain's best loved entertainers, is a classic example of reinvention, as At My Mother’s Knee demonstrates. The young Liverpool entertainer, an altar boy from Irish Catholic Birkenhead, becomes the acid-tongued and outrageous drag queen Lily Savage, and moves from gay pubs to national television, creating something of a British comic institution en route (O'Grady's caustic drag character was a world away from safer predecessors such as Danny La Rue). But O'Grady (like other comic performers such as John Cleese) realised that comic creations can have a limited shelf life, and reinvented himself as ‘Paul O'Grady’, coming out from behind the false breasts and towering wigs as a toned-down (but still camp), more audience-friendly TV presenter (wisely, he retained the abrasive voice and a Scouse accent that could be cut with a knife).
At My Mother's Knee and Other Low Joints is an entertaining autobiography from someone who really does have a life that is worth writing about. Gossipy, sharp and colourful, the cast of characters in Paul O'Grady's life includes rogues and rascals galore, all of whom are evoked here with great comic skill. O'Grady was variously a boxer, a civil servant, a conman and even a cat burglar - all of these failed careers are on display here, as is a surprisingly pungent picture of the Liverpool nightclub scene. When so many showbiz autobiographies these days are written by people who have a barely had a life outside of their fame, it's refreshing to encounter one by somebody whose story would be interesting even if he were not a major TV star. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"One of the most brilliantly observed testimonies to working-class life I've ever read" (Sue Carroll Mirror)
"Funny, well observed and recognisably human. Soon you start to wonder why all celebrity autobiographies can't be like this" (Private Eye)
"Among the three-for-two slew of sleb lit heaped on the tables of the nation's major bookshops... At My Mother's Knee distinguishes itself on every level" (Carol Ann Duffy Observer)
"Paul speaks with warmth and hilarity about a childhood filled with poverty. Hugely interesting and entertaining" (Heat)
"While most celeb memoirs are as memorable as an air kiss, O'Grady's is a proper snog" (Scotsman)
"Warmly funny, dry and mischievous... Genuine - and brilliant" (Daily Mail)
"One of the most brilliantly observed testimonies to working-class life I've ever read"
"Funny, well observed and recognisably human. Soon you start to wonder why all celebrity autobiographies can't be like this"
"Among the three-for-two slew of sleb lit heaped on the tables of the nation's major bookshops... At My Mother's Knee distinguishes itself on every level"
"Paul speaks with warmth and hilarity about a childhood filled with poverty. Hugely interesting and entertaining"
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Neath South Wales
I presume that a further autobiography is waiting in the wings that will bring me up to date with his fascinating life. I do hope so as, apart from my disappointment on the scope of the story in this book, there is no denying that the book is amazingly honest, humerous and inciteful. Maybe it is down to clever planning as once I had finished reading it I Was desperate to to be able to read on and discover just how he achieved so much from such potentially disadvantageous beginnings.
The book is well written, difficult to put down and hugely rewarding as far as it goes. He does need to write another one, though!!
I laughed so much at his antics that i actually fell out of bed.From school to his first job,to his first girlfriend and the beutiful baby girl they produced all told in Pauls' down to earth Liverpuddlian sense of humour.Yes i could her his voice as if he was telling me his story himself.When you see Paul on the tv what you see is what you get.He takes the micky out of himself but not so much as everyone else he comes in contact with but in a way that it's just plain funny.
When he describes his Father going into hospital and he wasn't there when he died you felt his pain so much.His Mothers' grief,his guilt at his selfishness it's all there and this is where his book finishes.I laughed right through the book until this last chapter where i cried my eyes out.If you're a Paul O'Grady fan this book is a must.If like me you hadn't really thought about him or his life you'll be suprised and,entertained,going through every emotion with him.Well recomended.
It only covers his life until the age of 18, which will no doubt mean that there is a sequel in the works, so his early days in showbusiness to the star he is today aren't included. But that's not to say that his childhood wasn't interesting, it was. The book has warmth and good humour that the biography by Neil Simpson (published last year) can't touch, you can hear Paul's voice, and it's like having a chat with him on his sofa.
Paul has a great style of writing, and I enjoyed reading about some of the characters that he knew as a child, I really did. Paul O' Grady is a good man and one in a million, but I can't rate 'At My Mother's Knee...: and other low joints' anymore than four stars. The book was too long for a memoir only covering the first eighteen years of his life, I think it could have been edited better, and I have to say that there were times when Paul jumped around a little, making it sometimes difficult to follow.
I for one found it interesting to read about Paul's discovery of his sexuality (edit: I see quite a few negative reviewers have made a big deal of this, but each to their own, he's gay not through choice, it's who he is, and so what?) There are plenty of laughs to be had whilst reading, but the book ends on a sad note.
In short, I look forward to part two (if there is one) and I enjoyed the book a lot. I only hope the next one though, does include the story of how he became the much loved entertainer he is today.
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