When I decided to read ten non-fiction books as part of my 32 Before 32 list, I was thinking along the lines of historical books, or biographies of presidents. I don’t read an awful lot of celebrity autobiographies, as they aren’t really my cup of tea. But I saw David Jason on the television talking about his new autobiography, My Life, and I knew I had to read it!
David Jason is one of those people who everyone feels as though they know, because of his prolific work on television. I doubt there are many people over thirty who hasn’t seen an episode of Only Fools and Horses, but he’s also known for his work in A Touch of Frost, Porridge and Open All Hours. Not to mention Dangermouse and The Wind in the Willows.
The best thing about this book is that David Jason’s voice really comes through while you are reading it. It feels as though you have sat down for a chat with him and he has decided to tell you about how he became an actor. The book is structured in a nice way too; sometimes he goes off on a tangent to give more than one example of what he is talking about, but he always brings it back to the original point, and the book is largely chronological, charting his life from his humble beginnings as the son of a fishmonger.
Throughout the book, he makes passing references to his mentor, Ronnie Barker, and then he devotes a whole chapter to talking about how much he loved him. It’s a lovely part of the book, because his affection for Barker really comes through. He obviously feels as though he owes a lot to him, and it’s touching to read.
David Jason isn’t a ‘celebrity’ as such; he just happens to be a famous actor. He doesn’t ever seem to have wanted to be in the public eye, he just knew from a fairly young age that he wanted to act, and after a brief stint as an electrician, he set about making that happen. I loved reading about all his early acting jobs, about his disastrous film debut and all his various stage roles. Although you might expect a large part of the book to be devoted to his most famous role, Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses, he saves it until the end of the book. He writes about it with a lot of affection, and it brought a tear to my eye when he described filming the episode in which Del Boy and Rodney bury Grandad, as Lennard Pearce had died in real life.
I managed to get this from the library after reserving it shortly after it was released. It took a while to become available, but was definitely worth the wait. I loved it!
One down, nine to go on number two of 32 Before 32 – read ten non-fiction books.