This is the third of Paul O’Grady’s very frank, honest and rather dark in places autobiography. In this latest if not last edition for a while at least, we are taking literally through the birth, development and death of the well known character Lily Savage.
Paul conveys the problems of becoming a drag act and building on that act that has potential but an artist who is somewhat lacking in confidence and is not sure where the creation is going. He is very honest in what he is telling us the reader and you can tell this has come from the pen of the name and not someone ghost writing because Paul is telling it as it is. Rather like the persona he portrays on screen, which is probably where the majority of us know him from.
Somehow he manages to make funny the escapades of dragging your wig around in a black plastic bag on a bus, train or in a mate’s car up and down the country in some rather unsavoury places, where there is more than just the acts sharing what can be called a dressing room or a curtained area near a stage with a dubious looking mirror and a bucket for a sink.
Through all of this growth of Lily, is rather more nasty growth – that of the HIV/Aids epidemic and the bigotry over the gay scene which was suddenly becoming headline news for all the wrong reasons in the 1980s. There were some heart breaking bits where Paul seems to be saying a permanent goodbye to one too many of his friends and fellow acts but also some of the common misconceptions that were being put around about this disease at the time made me seethe!
His continual banter with his mother is present and it was rather a heart breaking moment for me as her death came so suddenly and Paul never seemed to have been able to tell her the truth about Lily or himself. In some ways I think she probably knew, but it was that family banter that kept their relationship as strong as it was to the end. I do hope Paul has now found some peace with it all.
Whilst this is not as laugh out loud funny as the previous two books, it certainly gives you an insight into another world. It is written from the heart and he packs no punches in telling you what it was really like – would we expect anything less from him? No, didn’t think so. I can see how some may think he has missed some of his finer moments of Lily Savage out – but actually it was the growth of her which is the importance and therefore main aim of the book. To me now having read the book, the TV spin offs which Lily grew into were simply the icing on the cake for someone who had worked hard in fact grafted to get where they were before the more ‘celeb’ lifestyle came knocking.
Whether there is a fourth book or not, I don’t know but for now I feel this and the previous two give you a very honest picture of a man who I hope graces our screens and wireless for many years to come because lets face it he is just saying what all of us our thinking!
You can find my review of Paul’s previous two autobiographies At My Mothers Knee (written before I started this blog) and The Devil Rides Out . I do not read many ‘celeb’ autobiographies but the ones I choose to read are those that I know I am really going to enjoy and that are going to be very honest – Paul O’Grady is one of them. I will be interested to hear what my dad thinks when I pass it on to him (now he does read a lot of autobiographies).
For some reason the other book I was reading at the time of this on my kindle (this was the hardback version and difficult in bed under the covers) was The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll which does not necessarily seem odd unless you know that Brendan O’Carroll is the irrepressible Mrs Brown of Mrs Brown’s Boys. There seems to be a trend developing of men dressing as women in my reading………