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
One Direction urge fans to lobby George Osborne about corporate tax avoidance
Reading line-up 2014: Paramore, QOTSA and more confirmed for Reading and Leeds Festival bill
What are the best first lines in fiction?
Boy George: Bad karma
12 Years a Slave didn't depict the 'happy slaves', critic complains
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations
- 2 Boy George: Bad karma
- 3 Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
- 4 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 5 Ian Wright breaks down in ITV documentary charting his rise to Arsenal and England striker