Although not the first book I read this year, when I started taking notes and writing down my thoughts about this read I realised my ramblings would need a post all of their own.
So we are kicking off My Year In Books 2022 with this one. Basically, my life in a book.
The One That Made Me All Nostalgic
Watching Neighbours Twice A Day… How 90’s TV (Almost) Prepared Me For Life – Josh Widdecombe
It’s been so long, like waaaay too long since I’ve seen any comedians live. Well over two years, which is unheard of for me. Pre-pandemic, live comedy was a massive part of my life. I’d see anyone I could at the local theatre in Norwich, and even travel to Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds or London to see some that didn’t reach the depths of Norfolk. But lately in the cruel twist of life I’ve ended up turning down a couple of rescheduled shows.
I’ve been a fan of Josh Widdecombe since I first saw him live a few years back so, when I saw he had a book out I put a hold on it with the digital library. Who knew it would have a 15 week wait!
‘This is a book about growing up in the 90s told through the thing that mattered most to me, the television programmes I watched. For my generation, television was the one thing that united everyone.’
Reading this felt just like being in the audience at one of Josh’s shows. The casual wit, chat in the pub kind of writing. I could hear his squeaky voice as I read.
I realised too late that I absolutely should have opted for audiobook as he does narrate, apparently featuring James Acaster too. Darn it.
Full of nerdy facts and flashbacks of iconic TV moments, I was taken on a little nostalgia ride as my youth came flooding back to me, while we discover what it was like growing up as Josh.
Art Attack. Chucklevision. Edd The Duck in the broom cupboard. Get Your Own Back. Fun House. Round The Twist. Strange But True? Gladiators. Live & Kicking. Saved By The Bell. The Racoons! The Demon Headmaster. Big Break. Noel’s House Party. Bottom. The X-Files. The Big Breakfast. Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush. TFI Friday.
‘Cool Britannia, that nebulous idea of everything in the country heading in the same confident and positive direction in the late 90s, only really felt real in the TFI Friday bar.’
And obviously Neighbours. Which I too frequently watched twice a day. Being an unwell child, often of school.
‘They are shows that helped me understand the world, work out who I was and how I wanted people to perceive me – often in ways that now make me cringe.’
Although television seems like such a big thing now, with all these mega budget shows and streaming services, back in the day we only had a certain time that kids shows were on, well when any show was on really. You all watched the same episode as each other, at the same time. And it felt like something. A moment.
‘It was the last great gathering of the people before the birth of the internet.’’ – Noel Gallagher
I feel like I was the target audience for this book. A fan of Josh’s comedy anyway, and being only two years younger than him, almost everything he references brought back memories for me.
‘Every Sunday between 4pm and 7pm I would listen to the Top 40 on Radio 1, recording the songs I liked on cassette.’
I also did this with boy bands on video. But we won’t go into that.
Reading this made me appreciate in a whole new way the time I grew up in. I’m proud and glad to be an 80’s baby. The 90’s was an era of massive change, Tv, music, sport and politics. I don’t know if the kids of today have the same kind of things to get excited about as we did. Nothing seems new now. Who are todays Oasis and Blur?! (I realise I sound incredibly old).
‘… a time when it felt like there was so much for me to be excited about. Or maybe that was just the feeling of being young.’
This read actually got me feeling a bit emotional for the times gone.
‘Loving something isn’t about its definable quality, or reasoning it out; sometimes it can just be about the point it intercepted your life. In the same way you can love an album from your youth even though you know in your heart, when it comes to it, it is shit.’
What made the book even more relatable, and also current, was that Josh had written it through the pandemic. There were little snippets of his current life interspersed.