FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - CONTENTS -

Be­tween The Test of Brian O’Driscoll and the tribu­la­tions of Roy Keane, I can’t help think­ing that the cur­rent crop of celebrity au­to­bi­ogra­phies have missed a trick on the ti­tle front. The Sec­ond Half might seem like sen­si­ble name for a for­mer foot­baller’s sec­ond vol­ume of me­moirs, but this is Roy Keane, for God’s sake! The man’s life has been a cat­a­logue of drama, ten­sion and con­tro­versy: surely, he could have mined a lit­tle deeper to come up with a truly mem­o­rable book ti­tle. Would Whose Phone is That? have been too much to hope for?

I un­der­stand that the only rea­son most fa­mous peo­ple have for writ­ing their me­moirs is to make more money, but hon­estly, you’d think they would put their back into com­ing up with some­thing de­cent to put on the front. Gerry Ryan and I, back in the day, used to like to come up with ti­tles for books we’d never write; I re­call him once say­ing that if he ever wrote his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, he would call it Big Town Ego, Small Town Life. I sug­gested he should call it Dirt­bird. In the end, when he did even­tu­ally write a book, he dis­ap­pointed us both by call­ing it Will The Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up (since I barely recog­nised my friend in said book, the an­swer, ap­par­ently, was no). We had Ea­mon Dun­phy on the ra­dio with us one time and he told us that if he ever wrote his me­moirs, he’d call it Wrong About Ev­ery­thing. In the end, he called his book The Rocky Road, which isn’t bad, but isn’t nearly as good as Wrong About Ev­ery­thing.

A (non-celebrity) friend of mine con­sid­ered writ­ing a two vol­ume mem­oir, with the first half called Hail, Hail, The Pint Pot, and the sec­ond, The Pint Pot and Its Role In My Down­fall. To­gether, th­ese fas­ci­nat­ing vol­umes were to be called Pint Pots… And Then Some! Frankly, I’d reach for that in a book­shop ahead of a vol­ume called The Test any day (since ev­ery­one else has made the rather ob­vi­ous joke about it be­ing a test of en­durance to get through it, I’ll re­sist; though in his de­fence, my own deeply un­pleas­ant en­counter with BOD did re­veal him to be de­cid­edly testy).

De­cid­ing to call his

au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Camp David was a stroke of ge­nius, as too was Alan Titch­marsh’s ti­tle, Trowel And Er­ror

A clever ti­tle doesn’t just sell a book, it makes read­ers feel more pos­i­tively dis­posed to­wards their sub­ject. Many years ago, I saw somebody on hol­i­days read­ing David Niven’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, which was called The Moon’s A Bal­loon, a line from an E. E. Cum­mings poem. I’d never given Niven a sec­ond thought prior to that, but I liked him ever af­ter­wards. I can take or leave David Wal­liams, but call­ing his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy Camp David was a stroke of ge­nius. I am of­ten baf­fled by how many women my age con­fess to fan­cy­ing Alan Titch­marsh, but after learn­ing that he called his mem­oir Trowel And Er­ror, I’d almost give him one my­self. Jo Brand’s two vol­umes of mem­oir, I Can’t Stand Up For Sit­ting Down and Look Back In Hunger de­serve a round of ap­plause and Paul O’Grady’s won­der­ful At My Mother’s Knee And Other Low Joints is just per­fect. I ap­prove of Panti’s Woman In The Mak­ing, though I like the ti­tle of the forth­com­ing film, High Queen Of Ire­land, bet­ter. And I ac­tu­ally don’t care what Sinéad O’Con­nor calls hers – I’ll be first in the queue to buy it re­gard­less.

My own mem­oir of early par­ent­hood, lest it still be pos­si­ble to buy it some­where, was called Mis­ad­ven­tures in Moth­er­hood, a ti­tle plucked from the Ex­actly What It Says In The Tin shelf. As to any broader au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, the ex­cel­lent news for any­one who’s ever met me is that there won’t be one. Frankly, I spend a huge amount of time try­ing to for­get some of the ridicu­lous shenani­gans I’ve got up to; the last thing any of us needs is my record­ing them for pos­ter­ity. And since I’ve al­ways be­lieved that peo­ple writ­ing au­to­bi­og­ra­phy owe it to their read­ers to at least tell the truth (a no­tion that sev­eral of our cur­rent celebrity au­thors clearly don’t hold with), a se­lec­tive ac­count just wouldn’t cut it (and would, in any event, be a te­dious read). But in the al­ter­na­tive uni­verse, in which I lead the kind of charm­ing, witty and blame­less life that makes for zing­ing au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, I think I would call it In­ap­pro­pri­ate Adult. Now, if you ever see that in a book­shop, then for ev­ery­one’s sake, reader, pass by.

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