Nobody my age grew up without Alexei Sayle appearing somewhere in their memories, whether it be as the landlord (and various family members) in The Young Ones, or in The Comic Strip, his own sketch shows, or even just for the “Ullo John got a new motor?!” song that spawned the “Ullo Tosh Got A Toshiba” advert (sung by the fab Ian Dury if my memory serves me right).
We all loved him for his big bald head, big shouty rants, too-short trouser suits and far left-wingism in the Thatcher years.
This autobiography covers his early years in the 50s and 60s, growing up in Anfield, Liverpool as the son of a couple of members of the Communist Party of Great Britain.
His childhood was anything but typical of the time. Eg; due to their ‘Party’ connections, and their free rail travel due to his dad’s jobs, the Sayles used to embark on many foreign trips, which were almost unheard of amongst their peers. These weren’t the relaxing summer holidays that we think of today but trips to various communist blocks.
I actually got this as an unabridged audiobook, as narrated by the author himself, which meant that we were treated to his impression of his flame-haired Jewish, screeching mother Molly. From shouting at all the neighbours, accusing them of everything including turning the taps on just when they knew she needed the water to hiding copies of the Socialist Worker in people’s coat pockets or even going to his art school entrance interview for him, her antics provide huge laughs throughout the book.
Although politics and communism are rife throughout the book, it is more the effect of growing up in that environment than about the politics themselves. Do NOT miss out on this book because you think it’s political and will therefore be boring. It’s brilliant – I loved every chapter (and it was almost 9 hours of listening!)