Memoirs are, excellent. My love of memoirs has grown steadily through the fantastic website Narratively. If you haven’t stumbled upon on it yet do. Go and type it in on Google and spend a couple of hours trawling.
It is not a surprise that my Christmas book list compromised wildly of many, many memoirs. Maybe sitting pretty at the tip of my list was this one. And god was it good.
Spectacles is the hilarious, creative and incredibly moving memoir from much loved comedian, writer and presenter Sue Perkins.
When I began writing this book, I went home to see if my mum had kept some of my stuff. What I found was that she hadn’t kept some of it. She had kept all of it – every bus ticket, postcard, school report – from the moment I was born to the moment I finally had the confidence to turn round and say ‘Why is our house full of this shit?’
Sadly, a recycling ‘incident’ destroyed the bulk of this archive. This has meant two things: firstly, Dear Reader, you will never get to see countless drawings of wizards, read a poem about corn on the cob, or marvel at the kilos of brown flowers I so lovingly pressed as a child. Secondly, it’s left me with no choice but to actually write this thing myself.
This, my first ever book, will answer questions such as ‘Is Mary Berry real?’, ‘Is it true you wear a surgical truss?’ and ‘Is a non-spherically symmetric gravitational pull from outside the observable universe responsible for some of the observed motion of large objects such as galactic clusters in the universe?’
Most of this book is true. I have, of course, amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.
Thank you for reading.
From the very first word Sue Perkins is very honest with us. “I have amplified my more positive characteristics in an effort to make you like me.” Sue, is (probably) most well-known for co-presenting the wildly popular GBBO. True to form it features. Berry is one of the most extraordinary people you could ever meet and Hollywood. Well, to put it nicely is funny and kind. Oh and if you always wondered about how he styles his hair. Well – we’ve all seen ‘there’s something about Mary.’
Sue’s writing is flavoured with personal snippets, delightful passages that let you into her life, and LOL moments. Like real laugh out loud. There’s a bucket of wee thrown, a swearing incident with Esther Rantzen, the hiding of horrifically smelling cheese and a horrible incident of the cock on the car. God I cried at certain moments. The writing is clever, witty and brilliant.
She down-plays her incredible career. She shares snippets from her time on Footlights and as president of the Cambridge comedy society are brief but they are interspersed with such homely, honest storytelling. The writing of her friendship with Mel, is extraordinary. There are too many terrible tales. The stripping gorilla, Mel’s digestive system, their first tour together. Perkins seems forever shocked by career; how they lucked into her launch-pad job co-hosting the 1990’s daytime TV hit Light Lunch – “We somehow managed to slip through the audition, through the pilot, and on to the actual television.” It’s comedy gold.
But there are moments of, well clarity. The heartbroken anger at being told by the infertility consultant that her being gay ‘well, that makes it easier.’ Her father’s cancer, the death of Pickle. (Don’t read that chapter in company – it will destroy you.) One of my favourite passages describes the time Perkins visits Giedroyc after the birth of her first child. “We’ve gone everywhere, hand in hand together but I can’t go here. Not here.”
My copy of Sue’s book is well thumbed. It has too many fantastic passages to go unread. The book is warm, it’s real and it’s beautifully layered. Sue needn’t have worried about her mission statement – this memoir is truly a delightful Spectacle.