Book Of A Lifetime: Little Goes A Long Way, By Syd Little

When I tell you which book had a lasting effect on my life, you may presume I am being facetious. I would like to declare that the book that truly altered the course of my life was Zola's The Beast in Man, a book I adore. Sadly, but honestly, the book that has had the greatest impact is Syd Little's Little Goes A Long Way.

Seven years ago, I put on a show called 'The Award Winning Robin Ince, Star of The Office, Series 1, Episode 5 (First bit)'. I played a psychotic version of myself explaining in rabid tones how I was responsible for the best in UK TV and radio. I had imagined that maybe 5 per cent of the audience might really believe the man on stage was a lunatic. A few days in, I was horrified to discover that upwards of 80 per cent believed it was real: I was Antonin Artaud re-imagined by Heat magazine. They even believed the bit where I furiously punched a melon that represented Vernon Kay's head until it exploded.

My "spirit guide" in the show was Syd Little. I would read from his autobiography while the music of Philip Glass played in the background. This helped dramatise the story of Syd musing on how much Cliff Richard liked curry.

To distract myself from my disaster, I took to turning up at late-night clubs with my Syd Little book and a variety of portentous tunes. I would stand in front of the pleasantly drunk crowds and read Syd as if tackling Macbeth. I started patrolling the Edinburgh charity shops, picking up Mills & Boon romances about vets curing arthritic horses and reading them accompanied by some Vaughan Williams.

While my main event was falling apart, my 3am sideshows were a joy. I enjoyed it so much I started a night called The Book Club, where idiosyncratic performers would be glued together by readings from my expanding library of the odd.

The shows led to a tour and some award nominations; we even won some. I had forged new friendships with all manner of excellent and idiosyncratic performers. We made podcasts and radio shows.

Once the Book Club seemed to lose its sheen, I killed it off, with the exception of festival outings. It was at one of these festival outings that I met a literary agent who suggested the show would make a good book. Meanwhile, I replaced the empty slot with a benevolent book club which celebrated greatness and wonder, with scientist and musician guests. This led to a sold-out show at the Hammersmith Apollo where Jarvis Cocker sang "I Believe in Father Christmas" before Richard Dawkins took to the stage to talk about spider-web evolution.

I've never enjoyed my work more than now. One moment I am sitting in a studio with comic-book legend, Alan Moore, talking about sock puppet gods, the next I am on stage with physicist Brian Cox trying to understand dark matter. I believe none of this would have happened if I hadn't come up with a disastrous show that led to me walking the streets in search of places to read out Syd Little's Little Goes A Long Way.

'Robin Ince's Bad Book Club' is published by Sphere

Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015