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Birds and Bees
on 17 February 2010
An engaging collection of shaggy dog stories and anecdotes,from the life of comic Rory McGrath, all connected to his interest in ornithology.
There are a number of autobiographical works where the author uses a love of Natural History as the unifying element in their life story; Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals" and Jocelyn Brookes's "The Military Orchid" are two excellent examples of this type of book. "Bearded Tit" falls short of these autobiograhies, for one thing, Rory McGrath's interest in birdwatching (as he readily admits) is a little haphazard; Not quite half hearted but certainly not all-consuming. This means that this book feels a bit like being buttonholed by an affable rancontuer, but not like sharing a great passion.
The format:short, slight, often very slight, episodes means the book resembles a collection of short stories. This makes for an easy enough read, but sometimes the overarching narrative is lost.
Having said that, the last chapter, with a twist-ending I must admit I didn't see coming, ties the whole work up well. It would be a churlish reader who was not able to wish McGrath well by the time we reach the end of his meandering but often moving tale.