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on 28 March 2012
I was surprised to see the star rating - then I realised that someone had given the book one star because she thought it was by the Clarkson person. Thus degrading poor Jeremy Clarke's star rating because of her own silly mistake, which is a pity. This book is a genuine rarity. JC says in one section that he has fews strong opinions left, and that seems to me exactly why this is such a valuable, as well as an entertaining, read. JC reports back from the front line of lives that I doubt so many Amazon reviewers are in touch with; of course, there's no way of knowing how much of this has actually happened to him, but it generally rings true to me. And he reports with an extraordinary degree of acceptance, taking people as they are, not throwing judgements around as so many of us do. His skill as a writer (he calls himself a hack - nonsense!) means he doesn't need to pass judgement or generalise. He simply reports back, wryly and calmly, and the events and people themselves say it all for him. He can leave me deeply moved, and then a couple of pages later I'm laughing out loud. He has that melancholy perception that the whole culture is going to hell, or even has done so, which conservatively-minded people often have - he writes about "civilisation" as a past event - but nearly all the time the perception only comes out through the description. And it's a pleasure to read the little essays consecutively, rather than once a week. His sense of the comic potential of human absurdity sometimes makes me think of Wodehouse, and his observational skill, and the immediacy of his contexts, makes me think of Orwell. No comparisons intended or needed. It's a cracking little book - varied, thought-provoking, very funny, sometimes disturbing.

If half of what he writes about himself is true, he really does need to take rather better care of himself - I'd love to read a sequel!

And NB it's got nothing to do with overgrown schoolboy petrol heads, for goodness sake.
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on 30 April 2013
I've no idea how I came across this book - let's I hope I wasn't looking up Jeremy Clarkson! - but I'm so glad I did. This is a collection of columns written for The Spectator Magazine which follow the life and loves of said "Middle Aged man in Search of The Point". But aren't all middle aged men in search of the point? Maybe, but not many are doing so as eloquently as this man, while not being stuck at the eloquent level of society that is usually looking for "The Point" in, say, Notting Hill. No, this man is at the supposedly lower end of the scale, stuck socialising with what maybe once would have been termed the working classes, the rough diamonds, the salt of the earth. He seems to have rubbed along quite well with this pack, possibly because he's not got cash, likes a drink, likes to dabble with drugs, internet dating and passing the time chatting about not much really. As Jarvis Cocker also wrote about the Common People, they dance and drink and screw, after all, because there's nothing else to do.
As the columns string a narrative together, you get the feeling that there is a real authenticity and emotion behind the account of this life. Although on a surface level the stories are about not much really, there's always an occasional observation or remark that just rings so true. And sometimes there's an emotion or feeling expressed that lifts the writing way, way beyond so many other columnists, such as the aforementioned Jeremy Clarkson or Craig Brown, both of whom I quite enjoy too. I found the book pretty unique in its own way, with a real voice and a view of the world that you don't often find being so well observed although you've probably experienced it. I was disappointed when I finished the book, and longed to read more. I'm pretty sure I'll return to it again just enjoy the writing, the wit and the emotion. Do yourself a favour and buy this book.
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on 29 March 2016
Makes the heart sing
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on 5 August 2015
Some parts very funny
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on 2 January 2015
Brilliant read and very very funny
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on 16 August 2015
Very entertaining and, at points, you really just can't put it down.
Every chapter brings a smile. Very much recommended.
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on 25 January 2014
Jeremy Clarke's funny, sad, perfectly pitched Low Life column is the first thing I turn to in the Spectator. He's a master craftsman.
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on 18 March 2014
this book is a clever collection of entertaining snippets on the absurdity of life with a rich honesty that leaves you hankering for more as it provides so many laughs.
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on 10 January 2013
The actual book was great, but my husband wasn't impressed with the writing - I don't think it was what he was expecting
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on 26 November 2011
George Orwell said "" An autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats. "

Clarke can clearly be trusted. His candour is both funny and sometimes excruciating but rarely disagreeable. I have read his Spectator columns for years, in fact I buy the magazine for them - here many of them are reprinted. I cannot think of a writer whom I enjoy more. Clarke struggles between the wind and the water but fortunately for us never fully capsizes. When he chooses to, his lightness of touch and poignant observation can bring tears to my eyes.
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