Arrow, £7.99, 392pp from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600 030
My Name Is Daphne Fairfax, By Arthur Smith
Friday 21 May 2010
This droll and wise comedian's testament almost ends with a joke-free bout of acute necrotising pancreatisis (like "a mad rodent inside me").
As this book's existence hints, Arthur Smith – Daphne Fairfax, if you're from the tax office – survived, the better to redeem the clapped-out name of "alternative" comedy with a memoir that doubles as an acute slice of social history.
Childhood with Syd and Hazel in London's tatty south merges HG Wells with Carry On.... UEA student years and Parisian scrapes lead into the stand-up heyday with mates such as Malcolm Hardee, "a debauched Eric Morecambe".
Smith's tone of mordant pathos touches as much as it tickles. Greenwich, Balham, Bermondsey - be proud of him.
Arts & Ents blogs
Sherlock's Benedict Cumberbatch 'first sexy Holmes', says Mark Gatiss
Too upsetting? Academy members voted for Oscar-winning 12 Years A Slave 'without watching it'
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jessica Alba interview: From Hollywood superwoman to household product CEO
Captain Phillips actor Barkhad Abdi struggles financially despite Oscar nomination
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 To those who can’t see the point of International Women’s Day: you are the very reason it exists
- 2 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it