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It's all a bit too easy for what is meant to be a blagger's tale
on 13 April 2013
The set-up for this book - a skilled comedian pretends to be a journalist in order to follow a cricket tour in India - could lend itself to one of several different sorts of tales: a comedy autobiography, a light-hearted cricket account or an amusing travelogue. It is both the book's strength and its weakness that it in the end it is a bit of all three, providing plenty of gentle amusement but in the end not really sparkling as any one single type of book.
It took 12 years from the events to become a book, which perhaps suggests the author, or at least the publisher, knew that it wasn't quite a brilliant masterpiece and was instead rather more middle of the road. Good fun, throwing in some interesting comments about cricket, journalism and India in amongst the humour. But unlikely to be a book I reach for again to read.
Part of the problem is the lack of drama for it's all a bit too easy for Miles Jupp. Yes, he wants to bluff his way into getting journalist access to a cricket tour. But fundamentally all he ends up needing to do is to be ring a couple of people he already knew and head off which a big bank balance. 'Well-connected person with healthy bank balance goes off to do something mildly strange' would be a more accurate sub-title than 'A Blagger's Tale' as the amount of actual blagging involved is rather modest and simple.
By far the biggest obstacle Jupp seems to run into is his own lack of self-belief that he could carry off the blag. By comparison, the armed guards who were almost always easy to sweet talk and not too diligent at checking security passes were a minor inconvenience. What's more, his fellow cricket journalists generally come out of the story as friendly, supportive and not too competitive. David Gower, Ian Botham and Peter Baxter in particular come out of the story as friendly, welcoming people. Jupp may be blagging his way into their company, but again what holds Jupp back is his own psyche, such as a reluctance to go up to talk to his cricketing heroes in the bar, rather than any hostility from them to him.
Jupp can tell a story with great humour and no little interest. The problem in the book is that the story itself is not that dramatic. It's a book more to enjoy for the style of the telling than for the events of the tale itself.