My name is Arthur Smith, unless there's anybody here from the Streatham tax office. In which case, I'm Daphne Fairfax.' This is a line Arthur has used at a thousand different stand-up gigs.
In fact, he is neither Daphne or Arthur. Family and old friends know him as Brian.
Arthur Smith is best known as a comedian, a broadcaster and an opening bat for Grumpy Old Men. But he has also been a West End playwright (his plays include An Evening with Gary Lineker), an English teacher, a failed rock star, a busker, a road sweeper and a bombsite boy in post-war Bermondsey.
Smith was one of the 'alternative comedians' who shook up light entertainment in the eighties and remains a legend at the Edinburgh Festival fringe where he has been fêted and arrested. His rumbustuous drinking years ended in Intensive Care where he narrowly survived an attack of acute pancreatitis. He gave up drink and got diabetes but continues to perform, write and act in peculiar ways and delight his fans.
This memoir encompasses a range of extraordinary, funny and often moving experiences by a unique and individual commentator on the peculiarities of modern society.
"The memoir of alternative comedian Arthur Smith takes him through the Bermondsey bombsites of his childhood and a career fuelled by drink, until he hits depressed middle age and near-fatal collapse. It's witty, self-aware and poignant: 'Emotional baggage never gets lost in transit.'" (
"This is just about the best book... about �alternative� comedy � an intimate memoir that doubles as a vivid portrait of an age. The man that emerges isn�t all that different from Smith�s persona, affable and self deprecating. Yet the finest aspect of this heartfelt memoir isn�t his acute self-portrait, but the pictures of those around him � from friends and family to fellow comics. His talent has always been far too wayward for TV, but here he has done something much more remarkable."(The Independent)
"This memoir reflects on a life lived to its fullest. Scandalous, funny and occasionally tender."(Birmingham Mail)
"The book succeeds in the principal prerequisite of a showbiz biog in dishing some dirt � in this case � atop a Merton borough council bin wagon � and dropping lots of names..."(The Guardian)
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An Unexpected Delight
what an interesting man!
I always liked Arthur Smith but have only known him through his radio work, mainly Loose Ends. I didn't realise he wrote plays and had done so much stand up comedy. I thought his autobiography was very interesting, well written and well read. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. A clever, drunken!! but thoroughly nice man. A joy to listen to his life so far.
- The Reluctant Hermit