Alan Johnson's childhood was not so much difficult as unusual, particularly for a man who was destined to become Home Secretary. Not in respect of the poverty, which was shared with many of those living in the slums of postwar Britain, but in its transition from two-parent family to single mother and then to no parents at all....
This is essentially the story of two incredible women: Alan's mother, Lily, who battled against poor health, poverty, domestic violence and loneliness to try to ensure a better life for her children; and his sister, Linda, who had to assume an enormous amount of responsibility at a very young age and who fought to keep the family together and out of care when she herself was still only a child.
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A warm, candid, moving memoir
Nostalgia, not what it used to be...
This is one of the best, if not the best, listens I've bought from Audible.
Johnson manages to mix his excellent memory with fine research to make a compelling read. Lots of anecdotes to savour, but my favourite is the one about being at an Everton match and trying to keep up with his uncle smoking Woodbines, aged 16. He collapsed at half-time but was given an upgrade to the posh seats.
I think this is his only title. I've listened to him prattle in the House of Commons though...
Laugh more than cry. Although the story of poverty makes me sad and reminds us that the past wasn't a golden era for millions of working class people who lived hand to mouth in appalling slums. It reminds me that the progressive society we live in didn't happen by accident: everyday rascism, divisive education policies, working class hovels, corporal punishment, unprotected workers, were all standard fare in the 1950s and 1960s. The progressive politicians and campaigners fought hard to erode these elements from society. Makes me angry when I hear working class people who nowadays call for a return to these "halcyon" days.
A fantastic memoir Alan. I have to admit that I also enjoyed the book because of the parallels with my own life. Grew up near North Kensington (in the shadow of Trellick Tower), poor background, council houses, QPR, used to be in a band, postman (who delivered to Southam Street!) Happy to say I never got the smoking thing, so am spared the Woodbine wobbles.