Today I am thrilled to bring you a different type of book from my usual. I’m taking part in the blog tour for Robert Llewellyn’s book, someone I know from many, many episodes of Scrapheap Challenge (I loved that programme!). From the book I have an extract, part of the first chapter, to give you a taster of what to expect in the rest of the book so read on and see what you think.
Blurb: When writer, comedian and Red Dwarf actor Robert Llewellyn’s son scrawled a picture of him at Christmas and titled it ‘Some Old Bloke’, Robert was cast deep into thought about life and what it means to be a bloke and an old one at that.
In this lighthearted, revealing and occasionally philosophical autobiography, we take a meandering route through Robert’s life and career: from the sensitive young boy at odds with his ex-military father, through his stint as a hippy and his years of arrested development in the world of fringe comedy, all the way up to the full-body medicals and hard-earned insights of middle age.
Whether he is waxing lyrical about fresh laundry, making an impassioned case for the importance of alternative energy or recounting a detailed history of the dogs in his life, Robert presents a refreshingly open and un-cynical look at the world at large and, of course, the joys of being a bloke.
Early one morning in May 2013 I received a text from the comedian Ross Noble.
Ross is a lovely fellow and he wanted me to be on his telly programme, although this flattering request was imbued with a microdot of low-status subtext.
This was very much a last-minute thing. He wanted me on his show but not later in the year or three months ahead as might be expected with a traditional TV production.
No, he wanted me to be there that day.
The text from Ross had an air of panic about it: they couldn’t get any properly famous celebrity at such short notice, so they tried me.
I’m not suggesting that I’m under constant pressure to make public appearances, but I can, occasionally, be quite busy.
On the morning I got the text from Ross I was under enor- mous pressure to feed the chickens and put the rubbish out, so I replied, ‘Yes.’
Then I looked in the bathroom mirror.
The slightly backlit reflection confirmed that I was (then) a fifty-seven-year-old bloke, and while that could be – and often is – a depressing realisation, on this particular morning I was gently elated at how lucky I’d been.
I’d been around the block a bit, but I’d never spent a night in a hospital, never had to wear a uniform or fight in a war.
I’d never been challenged to survive a post-apocalyptic Armageddon, zombie apocalypse or a tsunami; I hadn’t experi- enced starvation or been put in prison for my opinions; I hadn’t been oppressed or brutalised because of my gender or the colour of my skin.
If, as the writer and doctor Abraham Verghese argues, ‘geog- raphy is destiny’, then I’ve been lucky from the get-go.
Of Indian heritage, Verghese was born in Ethiopia, had to flee the civil war when he was a kid, and went to America with his family. There he studied medicine, worked as a doctor in India, went back to America and became a writer.
His destiny was very much defined by geography; he is part of the massive diaspora of many people around the world.
I didn’t have any of that. I’m a white-skinned bloke born in a European country where my antecedents had been living for, who knows, possibly thousands of years.
However, the acknowledgement of coming from where I do, being my age and acknowledging my privilege is, I will argue, very important.
It’s a political stance and it seems quite rare among my peers. There are many men living in developed Western countries the same age as me who, it would seem, feel hard done by. They might express this disappointment through fake jocularity to disguise the fury and frustration they feel inside.
About the author:
Robert Llewellyn is an actor, novelist, screenwriter, comedian and TV presenter, best known for Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge. He lives in Gloucestershire.