Friday, 10 October 2014
Going Off Alarmingly- Danny Baker
I've been waiting and waiting for this second instalment of Danny Baker's autobiography to be released. And it has been a wait. Originally it was expected to be released back in the spring, and I'd listen to Danny Baker STILL talking about writing his book on 5 Live or VSPO and think 'just hurry up!'. I'm not sure if it was the notorious 'tricky second album' syndrome, health or work commitments which delayed the release of Going Off Alarmingly, but by the time I got my hands on a copy I was more than ready.
Going to Sea in a Sieve, part one of the Danny Baker story, was charming. Life in post-war London, larger than life characters and the roguish, cheeky chappy personality of young Danny at the heart of it all. Going Off Alarmingly is the next step, the 'settling-down-and-Daz-doorstep- challenge' years, if you will.
If you're already a fan of Danny, a lot of the more entertaining stories in Going Off Alarmingly are ones you might have heard before. There were a few times I thought 'yep, I know this one' when the familiar opening gambit of a favoured anecdote started up. I guess what I'm saying is that I hoped for some new tales from his interesting life (the ones with his Dad involved are always, without fail, corkers). That's the negative out of the way.
The most lovely thing about Going Off Alarmingly is how the love for his family radiates off the page. From the beautiful, brief and touching preface which talks of his brother Mickey's death in terms anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to ('I am just no good at morbid reportage...my brother died...how do you think it fucking felt?') to the tales of house buying with his beloved Wend and the birth of his first two children- it is a heartfelt love story. And the best bit? Danny and Wendy are a couple like every other couple, buying veg for their tea at Asda and asking their parents for advice about house renovation. They just seem normal, not like celebrities.
The obvious name-drop moments (Gazza, Chris Evans, Jonathan Ross) associated with the genre are all there, which will satisfy the nosey blighters looking for gossip. No scandal though, so rubberneckers can wind it in, but enough titbits to feel you get an insight.
Overall, I didn't enjoy Going Off Alarmingly as much as Going to Sea in a Sieve and there were pages I skimmed over, but there were also parts of this book I loved. Danny talks about pivotal moments in his life in a relatable way, and this is where the book succeeds. He'd do a great job writing a book based around key moments in life-first day at work, first buying a house etc- because he infuses enough humour to make it interesting. 'First Times with Danny Baker', I can see it now...if he does that though, I deserve royalties.
Going Off Alarmingly is out now in hardback, published by W and N.
With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.