Thanks to the efforts of Phoebe’s Nana and Papa I was able to sleep in until 9.30 today. I had more sleep in one night than I had managed in the previous three. Les Dawson lied to me. In-laws are great. I think I might try and wangle it so we stay here full time. The Beatles were wrong, all you need is sleep.
And I had a fun day of relaxing whilst surreptitiously doing some work, sitting down and reading a book, “How Not To Be A Boy” by Monday’s RHLSTP guest Robert Webb (still some tickets - book here
Webb’s book is an honest and self-critical appraisal of his youth, his relationship with his parents and how he coped with his mother’s death when he was 17 (unsurprisingly he did not cope very well with that). It explores notions of masculinity and whether boys and girls are pre-programmed to behave in certain ways or if society imposes these ideas upon them. In my ow book “Talking Cock” I speculated that men and women are at least partially attempting to conform to ideas of masculinity and femininity, but that in fact we are much more similar than we tend to believe (or at least are all a combination of “male” and “female” attributes and are encouraged to hide away the ones that do not fit the stereotype of our sex).
Whether it’s nature or nurture, it’s clear that the inability of men in Webb’s life to express themselves emotionally had repercussions on this sensitive and pampered and mildly Messianic young boy. A lot of his story resonated with me, including odd details like his father giving him a hard time for not being able to write 8s properly. My own childhood was happier, my parents strict, but not drunk or abusive and my early years contained no tragedy for me to have to deal with (and to be fair my later years have been pretty charmed in that regard), but I was also sensitive, spoiled, bad at sport, obsessed with comedy and useless with girls.
I got through pretty much the whole book in one day (and it’s over 300 pages so that speaks of its readability). It is perhaps a little imbalanced in that his critique of himself as a husband and father feels a bit rushed at the end, but maybe a second volume will deal with that. It’s a definite recommend for comedy fans and anyone interested in male repression. I think it comes out in September.
As with my now “How Not To” book, I think Webb was working stuff out for himself as much as for anyone else, but the confessions of inadequacy and confusion are empowering for author and reader alike. He’s a man who has come through some stuff to some degree of self-realisation. Like all of us really. I am looking forward to talking to him about it.
And for the first time in 54 years the character of Doctor Who is going to be played by someone who isn’t a nerd. So that’s very exciting. Oh yeah, it’s also a woman. But of course if the BBC ever tried to have a male companion the PC Brigade would go insane. Given the Doctor is a sexless alien who rarely gets its genitalia out on screen, it doesn’t really matter much. I am hoping the first thing they do will be to show the Doctor pulling out their cock and saying, “Don’t worry guys. I’ve still got one."