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on 23 September 2011
This book was one of the most enjoyable I have read in many a moon.

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.
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on 11 December 2016
It's Christmas give
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on 1 January 2014
A lovely book, well written and with just the sort of humour one would expect from such a witty lady. Given her humble background, what she has achieved is truly inspirational.
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on 20 September 2011
Absolutely fascinating! You have seen Pam Ayres over 30 years on TV now and it was time to get to know her a bit more and find out about her upbringing in the post war England, her careers and her social life. Beautifully written and highly entertaining.
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on 27 October 2011
A good laugh from page one.Pam writes the way she speaks!!!I laughed out aloud.I cannot wait for the next one.A good book for the ladies to curl up with , with a cuppa.
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on 18 December 2013
This title was our book group choice for December.

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.
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on 30 October 2011
Where to start...my dentist had died; an embarrassing number of years ago - I had meant to find a new one but it was always low down on my `to-do' list...now I was suffering from a grumbling tooth; it was a Friday afternoon and I faced the prospect of full blown toothache over the weekend when no help would be available. I managed to get an emergency appointment at a local dentist and sat in the waiting room castigating myself for being so stupid and fully expecting a stern faced dentists criticism and the word 'dentures' to be bandied about freely... Pam's poem 'Oh I wish I'd looked after me teeth' rolling round in my mind as the dental nurse led me up the stairs like a condemned man. All the dentist I had known were blokes and I was wrong footed when a young, female dentist introduced herself... suppressing laughter at my manic apologising for letting my teeth fall into such a state.

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.
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on 1 November 2011
Having re discovered Pam a few years ago and having had the great pleasure of seeing her on stage I thought her autobiography would probably be a good read.
Of all the autobiographies I've ever read this has to be the best. Her friendly relaxed down to earth style of writing is quite charming and you feel she is writing as though conversing with you as a friend.
Despite all of Pam's success she comes as across as having no " Ayres and Graces."
I do hope Pam does another follow up from 1976.
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on 13 November 2011
This book was a real treat, very hard to put down;a lovely,honest,easy,comforting read. Wonderfully descriptive. Written in small chapter sizes, so that you can read for a short while or for ages! Full of warmth and humour, and, for someone of around the same age as Pam, I found it a reflection of a world hardly recognisable any more, the world of my 50's childhood.
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on 2 January 2012
I love reading and this book is one of those that once you start you will find it exceptionally hard to put down again. It's fascinating to read about eras long past especially from such an acclaimed author. Well done Pam and thank you for taking me on such a breath taking journey.
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