- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 33 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House AudioBooks
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 15 Sept. 2011
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005NAD6QW
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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The Necessary Aptitude Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
It traces her life and career starting from the post-war growing up as the youngest of six children in a council cottage in the Vale of White Horse, Berkshire. From there it moves on to schooling and subsequent joining the Women's Royal Air Force and her posting to Singapore and Germany, where she blossomed. Her description of watching a camelion changing colour is magical.
From there it moves on to her subsequent jobs and the events that led up to her winning the tacky "Opportunity Knocks" talent show, with its slimy host Hughie Green and the dreaded "clap-o-meter" measuring device, so stops around 1975.
The title refers to the number she was knocked down during her life and told she "did not have the necessary aptitude" to succeed. The story is told with much humour, as you might expect, and is very touching in parts.
Call me an old softie, but I thought the book was brilliant.
We liked this book's honesty and how Pam's family life, her search for a career and her relationships with friends and lovers is chronicled with a hefty and healthy dash of realism, a sometimes harsh dollop of judgement but always with an underlying seam of tenderness and warmth. Personally, I felt I learnt a lot about life in the years after the War and we particularly marveled at how different our lives as mothers are from Pam's mother's life.
I also relished the humility with which Pam reported her increasing success as a performer. As a bit of a literary snob, I can't categorise her work as 'poetry' but I do appreciate its wit, charm and cleverness. Watching clips of her performing on YouTube, her passion and enjoyment in what she does is very evident and her performances reveal the obvious generosity of her spirit.
The book fell short for us, however, because of its tendency to overload the reader with detail upon detail which, with all due respect, don't impact too significantly on the overall 'story' of the book. I'm thinking in particular of the duck landing on the feeding table outside the flat window! We also wanted more humour. Having been led to believe it would be a roar-a-minute, its elegiac tone and its somewhat weighty prose style does rather dull the impish glint of delight we know Pam usually has in her eye!
Overall, it was a good read, one I'm glad I persevered with.
The next day, after buying an electric tooth brush and expensive toothpaste, I was browsing in a local bookshop when Pam's memoir 'The Necessary Aptitude' caught my eye. I'm not a great reader of memoirs, but this seemed an odd coincidence, so I bought a copy and read it cover to cover over the weekend.
This is a lovely book, with a nice mix of humour and poignancy, honestly told. You will find yourself reading it in Pam's distinctive accent [I can't be the only one who does this] and having lots of `I remember that' moments. I particularly liked the memories of the folk club scene in the 70's... Bob Dylan's 'To Ramona' [sigh], Fred Wedlock [we bought his songs on vinyl at the exit and sang them on beery jaunts around the local pubs] and the laid back attitude in the clubs where anyone could get up and perform - the good, the bad and the ugly...I remember a guitar playing friend eventually picking up courage to play; he chose Joni Michel's 'Big Yellow Taxi' to perform - already fast paced , he sang it twice as fast again out of nervousness and finished by imitating the manic laughter from the original song, guitar strings incandescent from furious strumming.....there was a stunned silence and then a roar of laughter and clapping - happy days.
As an aside, I wonder where the `Guernsey' sweater came from [rear cover]...not Wantage market I'll bet.