With the advent of Gone Fishing and his appearances on Would I Lie to You? on BBC TV, I would say that Bob Mortimer is well on his way to becoming a British national treasure, if not there already. This book certainly helps to establish him as one of Britain’s classic comedians to my mind and it is with fondness that I write this review.
It is an autobiography, there is no doubt about that, as Bob tells us about his childhood, family and friends from the past and alternates from reminiscences to the present and the recent heart scare which shook his world, mainly because he had no idea how close to his demise he was. He goes through his career and his partnership with Jim Moir or Vic Reeves as he is known on the stage as well as all the other comedians that he has encountered during the course of his career, including Paul Whitehouse, his friend on Gone Fishing.
His style of writing is clear and you definitely get “essence of Bob” from his tales and his funny, original sayings. It made me laugh throughout, not uproariously but quiet chuckles that I revisited later in the day as I remembered a turn of phrase that he used or an anecdote he related. What I took away from this was that he is a genuinely nice bloke who feels very fondly towards the key people who have inhabited his life and continue to be there with him. He didn’t really have anything nasty to say about anyone and when he did criticise, he gave them a pseudonym which may or may not have been similar to their original name, but even so, he exercised tact and manners. His mother would be proud.
What I also liked about it is that like an episode of Would I Lie to You? (non Brits, you can find it on Amazon Prime and it really is quintessential British humour – quick-witted, dry, sometimes a little surreal), you are not quite sure what is true and what is not. Some of the stories seem far fetched but then, there have been instances in Bob’s retelling where incredulous incidences have actually been true. Regardless of where the truth lies, this is an entertaining read – warm, funny, human and only serves to increase, in this reader at least, my fondness for Bob Mortimer.