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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars

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on 20 May 2017
This is hardly a hot off the press review, as the most recent edition of this book was published in 2013, but I have only just discovered it, and if you haven't, then you should too.

Love his columns in The Times? This is better still, Many hysterically funny anecdotes, but also a great deal of reflective comment. More personal memoir than I expect he found it easy to write, as I have him down as an essentially extremely private man, although highly sociable. But he's also scrupulously honest, so if he tells a tale he tells it all and doesn't leave out any of the bits of it that he feels might not exactly redound to his own credit. Nor am I sure just how much he likes himself, and a sense of uneasiness in his own skin occasionally comes across.

Sometimes (I find this in his Times columns too) I can't understand how he gets to the conclusions he does. For example, his insights into Margaret Thatcher's character and personality are razor sharp, well punctuated with anecdotes that will have you bent double with laughter. She comes across as utterly im-possible. Yet he adored her. Most people who had to endure the same relationship with her would have

I read so many bits aloud to my husband (always an unkind thing to do to anyone) that he must have felt we were reading the whole thing together. Yet, he has now demanded the purchase of the hardback version, which tells its own story.

Do read it.
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on 21 September 2015
I bought this book because I have always liked Matthew Parris. I hoped to be entertained: I was. He is funny, engaging, wicked, compassionate, the list is endless. He also gives self-effacement a new creed. It is clear that he struggled to find his metier in life but he seems comfortable in his role as one of the country's best observers and reporters. The autobiography is well written and has pace, and he is completely honest and candid about his life so far with all its twists and turns. Matthew Parris is a good man.
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on 20 October 2016
I enjoyed the account of his childhood and the early years of his political career. The problem with being a columnist is that things are spoken of rather than done. But v enjoyable book.
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on 14 August 2017
Drop it! Name names. Not to shame but because they are a part of all our past. Decent man obsessed with being gay. More people are bi than we accept
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on 5 March 2017
A fascinating look at political life
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on 11 February 2004
Matthew Parris is a notable journalist in the field of politics and, having been an MP himself at one time, loves to write in detail about the Parliamentary world. Much like his newspaper articles, this biography is written with an elegant, fluid and highly readable prose style that really captures it's author's personality.
The early section about Matthew's happy but highly unusual childhood travelling across Rhodesia, Swaziland and Jamaica, is well written but it would be better suited as backup to his travel books, and is not nearly as good as what follows.
When Matthew lands in England to go to Cambridge University, then his book really takes off. Matthew's highly cynical, but humourously realistic take on the British institutions he encounters (Cambridge, the Foreign Office and eventually the House of Commons) is very enlightening and he writes in such a way you can't help but agree with him.
Matthew is also well-placed to comment on several popular politicians of recent years including Michael Portillo and John Patten. He may have remained merely a backbench MP but he got to know Margaret Thatcher very well when she was in office, and he manages to capture in his own way her many strengths and flaws, building a very complete picture of this most domineering of politicians.
His opinion of John Major is equally good, as he describes the various subtleties that lay behind his "boring" image and shows the man to be a much stronger character than he was often perceived in his time. His opinion of Tony Blair is also very well written. Matthew spotted far earlier than most of us the flaws of our current Prime Minister, a charismatic figure with an excellent grasp of oral rhetoric who was (and still is in many ways) American-influenced in his speeches and politics, with a shallow grasp of policies and detail.
At the same time, Matthew shows himself to be slightly eccentric, bumbling to a degree and insecure almost to the point of madness. His homosexuality is revealed to be a large factor in this, and the sections on Clapham Common as well his Newsnight encounter capture this very well.
A highly perceptive and readable biography. Well worth a look.
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on 19 October 2002
This wonderful book is not so much an autobiography as apologia - an apology, that is, in the old sense of humble self-justification.
Anyone who has read anything by Matthew Parris, and particularly his much-missed parliamentary sketches in The Times, will know that he has no need of justifying himself to us; his humility, though admirable and genuine, is belied by the scale of his achievement.
Nobody has written more brilliantly about politics since George Orwell. Parris and the author of 'Animal Farm' are, you might think, a pretty unlikely pairing. Despite his travelling and global perspective, Parris does not apparently have the radicalism of Orwell; Orwell was not so skilful an observer of personality as Parris. What they share is what Orwell once called, in a poem, 'the crystal spirit' - humanity, honesty and a hatred of humbug, all manifesting themselves in prose of luminous simplicity.
Yet Parris agrees with Peter Ackroyd's assessment: that he, Parris, has 'no talent', and has thrived only as a commentator, a 'chance witness'. He laments, in his final chapter, that he has never done anything original: 'If in my life I had been able to think up just one important thing...then I could be happy in anonymity'. The originality of his work is open to debate - that of his life is not. If this lack of originality he claims has helped to produce some of the stuff he describes in this book, I say hurrah for that.
Near the end, he moves from apologia to apology, regretting that he finds little room to describe his travels, his family history beyond childhood, and, most intriguingly, his pet llamas. I regret this too. I only hope he makes amends as soon as possible with a second volume.
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on 3 January 2008
Like another reviewer I had this on my Christmas list- and not being a conservative voter didn't really know what to expect.
Having seen Matthew on Grumpy Old Men, Question Time, and having his flat in London featured on Through The Keyhole(one entire wall being covered with books from ceiling to floor-always a sucker for a house with a heaving bookshelf)started reading with much interest.

All I can say is read this book and if you ever met him buy him a pint...for this tomb deserves it.In my own little way I think I understand him just that blittle bit better now for reading this and I feel all the better for doing so.
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on 30 October 2002
Matthew Parris does not like himself! He tells us this again and again. However, anyone reading this wonderful book will certainly say he is being too hard on himself.
This Autobiography has obviously been difficult for Mr Parris to write - there are many times when he does not like what he has done over the years. However, many are his real achievements and I salute him for both his patent honesty and his determination. We find out a lot about the man, and also the many intriguing characters he has met and worked with throughout his career in Parliament and the media.
I have always admired his commons sketches but this book moves to a new level.
I could not put this book down and finished it in a couple of days.
I hope that there will be a second volume. soon.
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on 22 July 2014
Dumped this book after about 6 chapters. Did not like the detailed nature of his description of his sex life.
I am no prude , 10 year's in the navy ensured that. However I hated his reference to ' penetration ' etc
His revelations of political events did not ring true to me.
Very disappointed.
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