Audiobook Review: Once Upon A Tyne by Ant and Dec

Due to an excessive amount of Audible credits – I decided to download some audiobooks to keep me company in the car when I’m not listening to podcasts / the local radio for the traffic reports / the kids arguing / the 16 year olds eclectic taste in music! As before I’ve stayed with my tradition of non fiction audiobooks and fiction ‘proper’ / Kindle books. I’d been interested in reading / listening to Ant and Dec’s autobiography since it came out – and so this was my first download.

Here’s the blurb:

Ant: as the old Chinese proverb says, ‘Good things come in pairs.’
Dec: and as another Chinese proverb says, ‘If you’ve been in a double act with your best mate for 30 years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?’
Ant: less catchy that one, isn’t it?
Dec: but no less true. And after three decades together, we’ve written that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story.
Ant: thirty years, eh? Amazing.
Dec: absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old.
Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV.
From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their ‘unique’ time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, those three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They’ve also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter – (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers and celebrities they torture – sorry, work with – every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they’ve made, as well as everything they’ve learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.”

I’m a very similar age to Ant and Dec (27 it would appear!) and can’t really remember life without them in it – and for a long time have known which is which! (Although one story in the book – where they were referred to as Antanddec – as one entity – reminded me of when our next door neighbours kids called both of my children Daisyandluke as they didn’t know which was which. I should point out the neighbours kids were toddlers at this point!)

Anyway – back to the book. It follows the double act from their initial Byker Grove days – and how they ended up in the Grove in the first place, through the pop star years – and then all of their various TV adventures, of which there have been many!

The one thing I was concerned about when downloading the audiobook rather than buying a hard copy – was that I wouldn’t be able to admire any photos – but you get told the link and password to download a copy of the photos – so you don’t have to miss out on the fashion and hairstyle highlights from over the years!!

I have to say it was like reminiscing with old friends – as I’ve been on their entertainment journey with Ant and Dec! It was interesting to have the background goss too. Some of the contributors actually voice their own comments – Cat Deeley, Stephen Mulhern, David Walliams – and then there are some impressions from Ant and Dec for others – like Simon Cowell and Robbie Williams – it’s all very entertaining.

Also – the boys talk through the photos for each chapter, with some reminiscing and funny comments – and I guess that is an extra compared to reading the book – which was a nice touch (and because they voice the audiobook themselves).

I did wonder how they would deal with Ant’s very public (albeit not that it was his choice) breakdown and divorce. After leaving home and their Mams – there isn’t much talk of their private lives at all – and at the end of the book Ant does touch upon his troubles and how it affected him and Dec – and likewise Dec talks about how that – and becoming a Dad (which all happened at a similar time) affected him. They don’t name check their spouses (current – or past in Ant’s case) but it is all dealt with in a grown up and not over excitable / tabloid way.

Overall I really enjoyed the book. I’m not sure there was any earth shattering revelations in it – but it was still an interesting and informative listen. I guess the trouble is nowadays, people don’t really have a ‘private’ life – because everything is shared on social media – and therefore autobiographies don’t really lift the lid on ‘secrets’ – because they would already have been shared on Instagram in the past!

Audio Book Review: Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon

Glorious Rock Bottom

 

I really enjoyed Bryony Gordon’s book about her mental health struggles, so when I saw her new book about alcoholism had come out, I actually purchased it (a rarity for me!).  Having recently discovered podcasts to listen to in the car, I thought I’d give Audible a go again (I dabbled some years ago but never got into it) – and because I like a plan, thought I’d do ‘non fiction’ audiobooks in the car – and leave the fiction for books at home.  Interestingly at a recent bookclub Zoom, some of the other members have non fiction downstairs and fiction upstairs – so it’s clearly ‘a thing’ to differentiate!

Here’s the blurb about the book:

“Bryony Gordon is a respected journalist, a number-one bestselling author and an award-winning mental health campaigner. She is also an alcoholic.

In Glorious Rock Bottom Bryony opens up about a toxic twenty-year relationship with alcohol and drugs and explains exactly why hitting rock bottom – for her, a traumatic event and the abrupt realisation that she was putting herself in danger, time and again – saved her life. Known for her trademark honesty, Bryony re-lives the darkest and most terrifying moments of her addiction, never shying away from the fact that alcoholism robs you of your ability to focus on your family, your work, your health, your children, yourself. And then, a chink of light as the hard work begins – rehab; twelve-step meetings; endless, tedious, painful self-reflection – a rollercoaster ride through self-acceptance, friendship, love and hope, to a joy and pride in staying sober that her younger self could never have imagined.

Now, I had high hopes for this book and really wanted to enjoy it and find it helpful in my own relationship with booze – but initially I didn’t. I found Bryony sharing her rock bottom really disturbing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for oversharing – the whole village knows about my piles – but this was really disturbing stuff. Sexual encounters with almost strangers, being repeatedly unfaithful to her husband, endangering her child – and it upset me both to read it – but also to think of them reading it. It felt really intrusive and things that no child should ever read about their Mum (I guess I’m more careful of this now – when the kids were little I’d share with wanton abandon, but teenagers are sh*ts – and my daughter’s ‘friends’ would find photos and info off this very blog to take the p*ss out of her, and so I’m more careful – and thus was worried about Bryony’s daughter Edie in the future.) It felt like it was being deliberately written to shock – which I guess it was – but it felt like I was a voyeur for listening to it…..

However, I persevered, and I’m so pleased I did.

The love Bryony has for her family is clearly what ‘saved’ her along with her determination not to let drugs and alcohol take everything from her – probably including her life. This shines through in her writing – and hearing her read her own words, and her voice catch with the emotion a few times, was deeply moving.

Her description of rehab (private, as a day patient) and the 12 step programme – without breaking confidences – was still really informative.

The end of the book had me totally weeping buckets and I arrived at work having to explain why my mascara was all down my face!

This is not a self help book, this is alcoholism and drug addiction from Bryony’s personal point of view. It is not preachy, it is not expecting everyone to give up booze, it very much distinguishes between alcoholics and people who can consume alcohol at a sensible level. I will sometimes have a ‘non-alcoholic’ beer, just because I don’t want the fuzzy head of a couple of beers, but the chapter where Bryony has a non-alcoholic beer binge does highlight the fact that non-alcoholic drinks are for non-alcoholics – a distinction I hadn’t really considered before.

After my initial reticence I did enjoy the book – and I’m sure Bryony’s husband was completely supportive in her writing it – and they will deal with Edie being told about the contents in an age appropriate and loving way in the future and I shouldn’t have got all worked up about it.

At the end of the day, their loving family unit – and their conkers – have helped Bryony conquered her demons.