So here we go….
One of my 101 Stoma Bag Challenges is to read 50 autobiographies before I get to 30, which shockingly enough is in 4.5 years time. I know!!! I still look 16 if exhausted thanks to my Crohns/ Colitis which is enviable until I get asked for ID for a DVD, magazine or bottle of wine and don’t have it on me 😦 always a slap in the face!!
So when I was in hospital, which was before I started this list (so that might be considered cheating) I started reading a political biography I picked up at a Cheshire pub’s book exchange. I know a lot of you will be thinking YAWN, but being a journo and thinking that I am uber interested in political affairs I decided that it would be a must read and got cracking with it.
The book I am talking about is The Third Man and it’s written by the King of Spin, The Dark Prince, The One Who Makes The Whole Nation Freeze when on the BBC and causes dogs to howl and cats to race away with their tails between their feline legs (I’m kidding – please don’t sue me, I have made it clear that this is a personal opinion FAIR COMMENT).
Shock horror it is more than 400 pages about New Labour by the one, the only Lord (is he a Lord? I think so – says the savvy news reporter #embarrassedface) Peter Mandleson.
I got the book free so I guess that’s my excuse. It was possibly one of the worse books to read in a chaotic hospital, with the constant beeping of machines, old ladies shouting everything from “Move away four eyes” at poor nurses trying to give them meds who happened to wear glasses to “Help, help, help” (some of it was hilarious, some truely heartbreaking to hear), farts, puking, the whole works – has anyone ever compared hospitals to farm yards? They should there isn’t a second of silence, you half expect a really fat cow to come ambling through the ward at any given second mooing and dripping milk everywhere…I wish, then at least we would all get more nutrients 🙂
Political memoirs – if that’s what you can call Mandleson’s hefty door wedge of a book which is more like a constant let’s have a go at poor Gordon Brown because he’s a monster to work with – take an awful lot of concentration to read. You really have to dedicate yourself to them and read every word, you can’t skim read, believe me I tried and you miss something major like the Peace Process in Northern Ireland or even a whole political term!!
For political memoirs I have to say that Mandy’s (I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Mandy) book is engaging. It is easier to read than Blair’s, which i have only got to chapter two in since it was published heaven’s knows how long ago #ashamedface. It could be because of his journalist background, or his role as the third man in the New Labour years, or, mostly likely, it is because he is thought of a sleazy and evil but in the book Mandy comes across as the fall guy, the peace maker, and the creative mastermind (and I admit it an alright guy at times) – he also comes across as a sleaze!!
In hospital I struggled through it. One thing it was good for was leaning my arm on when having injections, and it was great for helping me to get to sleep, which if you have ever spent any time on an NHS ward is near impossible. But Mandy’s book in parts droned on and on about votes and rows between Blair and Brown (which frankly made them look like bitchy school girls) it was as good as an entire vat of sleeping pills knocking me out until 20 mins later a nurse prodded me and said “Rachel would you mind if I take your blood pressure? Can you tell me your name and date of birth?”….INFURIATING!!! I am the same person you asked two hours ago, I haven’t, Mission Impossible stylie, got Tom Cruise to put on a Rachel mask and a gown and replace me while I go drinking tequila shots with the locals in the pub across the road – and, of course I mind!!! I haven’t slept in five days!!
It was dragged out into this challenge because I kept losing heart in the book – it just went on forever. I also was reading a mountain of trashy mags, the Daily Mirror every day I managed to get my mitts on one or had the energy to drag myself to the shop, which is about 10 miles away in the Countess of Chester from the Gastro Ward (if you have been you will know what i’m talking about), and of course more interesting and exciting fictional books on my new fangled kindle and from the pile of books by my bed.
But most nights I must have looked ridiculous tucked up in bed with a massive book. I mean I am only a size 6 but I got tinier and tinier, I must have looked like a Polly Pocket holding a giant’s book 🙂 What a sight.
When i went for a scan one day a burley porter, who saw me with my giant uber interlectual book and said “That’s a serious book for a little girl” – seriously i’m a grown woman and a reporter not a schoolgirl (ooh put the claws away). And one nurse asked me if it was Daniel Craig on the cover – #LOL – I am sure that Mandy would be well pleased with that.
I finally finished it two days after this challenge began and my first thought was PHEW!!! No more Mandy ramblings on the “nightmarish working habits of Gordon” and the flaming irritating love hate relationship that threesome seem to have. But I have to say despite the fact I almost threw it out of the ward window a few times – which I am sure would have killed a patient chain smoking in their dressing gown (they do say smoking kills – some quicker than others in that case) (sorry that was a distasteful joke) – I enjoyed it at moments. I mean small fleeting moments which made me think hmm, ahh, I never knew that, or mmm how insightful, or, oh that’s why that happened – and even once, I am ashamed to say, pooor Mandy you didn’t deserve that it wasn’t your fault.
So I recommend The Third Man if you want to:
A:) Fall asleep or knock yourself out
B:) Make a big fire
C:) Read a book that shows how childish politics can be – yes you Blair and Brown
D:) Says “No sir I didn’t do it” more times than a naughty kid in the playground and passes the blame
E:) You are genuienly interested in New Labour, politics or learning the truth about the Blairite era (well the truth from Mandy’s point of view that is)
My next post will be about Dear Fatty – the biog of my favourite vicar and lover of Terry (the choc orange that is) – Dawn French 🙂 Which is a different kettle of fish all together 🙂
If anyone has any suggestions for books or biographies for my challenge please post them on my wall or on my twitter @thestomabaglady or on a postage stamp 🙂 Remember I am also reading a book a week alongside this – these biogs don’t count towards that challenge 🙂 I’m no cheat!