Thursday, 8 November 2018

Frank Skinner...Completely changed my perspective

Title: Frank Skinner
Author: Frank Skinner
ISBN: 978-0-09-942687-5
Rating: 6/10
Genre: Autobiography, Non-fiction, True, Fact, Comedy, Humour
Type: Paperback

"Sunday. 13th May 2001. I arrive at the Hawthorne with Phil. He's producing and directing a documentary about Japanese and Korean football which is my next work-project after this book. Outside the ground, a middle-aged woman is selling Baggies Bonanza tickets. There's a draw at halftime and you can win a grand or so on a good week. She tries to sell me one. 'I don't need the money,' I explain. It's a slightly dodgy response, I know, but she takes it in the spirit it's intended and smiles. We get inside the ground and I bump into another mate, Lee, who's an Albion fanatic. His friend is explaining how his little boy came home in a Manchester United shirt and wanted to go and play football in it. In the end, Lee's mate had to pull the shirt off the kid, who then headed for the football in tears. Lee's mate said he felt like a heel. I told him he was a hero. He hesitated, then agreed...I won't bore you with a match report. We are two goals up with ten minutes to go. The crowd are loud and joyous. It's like old days when we were a top club. No one can stop us now. Final score: 2-2...'Congratulations,' she blurts out excitedly. I'm stunned. We've obviously won the BAFTA. 'What for?' I say, trying to remain calm. 'Two-nil,' she says. Women have no concept of the phrase 'Latest Score."

This is only one example of the arrogant, self-absorbed opinion Frank Skinner shares. I have always been a fan of Frank when he has been on the telly. I found him funny, approachable and looking out for the working class. Not anymore. I believe he started his life like that, he is from a Catholic, working-class background living in Oldbury. These early years are when his compassion and consideration for others stopped. From the stories he tells, he was a bully, although he doesn't see it this way. He used to make fun of school friends, vandalise property and be disrespectful to anyone who questioned him. He thought he was a big man at secondary school because he was funny. He became like this at the expense of others in his school. He used humour to defend the underlying causes of his problems.

Not only were his shenanigans growing up debatable, the way he spoke as an adult were questionable. He repeatedly talks about how rich he now is. "Oh look at me, I used to be poor and now I am rich!" Poor little me. talking about how, at the time, he is the highest earning comic. Talking about how much he earns and how much he spends on buying new houses. He shows off and brags throughout the book. There are times when he calls himself out on being so big headed so I am aware a lot of his writing is meant with the tongue in cheek it is said, but it still came across like someone who doesn't see what they are doing wrong. He genuinely did not seem to see where he had been unfair or cruel in his life.

The quality of the stories in the book was good which is why I have rated the book as high as 6/10 considering how much I actually disliked him. I found he wrote specifically about events and he was very honest and open which can't be an easy thing to do when talking about your own life and your own highs and lows. He talks about love, although he only dates women in their twenties, and loss, death and birth, his love for football and his hatred for education. But he is just not the person I thought he was. Although I hope this will not change my opinion of him on the telly, I did not like him personally. I am sure he will be devastated to hear this, but that is my opinion. I can only hope the Frank I see on the telly is an act, I prefer him.

Another example of the real Frank Skinner..."I'm still worried about the religion thing. People just don't like that stuff. It's all very well me saying, 'I know it's weird but I believe that little white wafter actually becomes the body and blood...', but you're thinking, 'Yes, it is f*****g weird, so stop going on about it because you're embarrassing everyone, including yourself.' And if any religious people actually read the book they'll hate it, partly because of all the dirty bits and the swearing, and partly because they're f*****g weirdos who only like the Bible and Cliff Richard. According to the book-marketing people I've recently met, books like this are mainly bought by women. Now they tell me. If I'd known that I wouldn't have bothered butting jokes in. Hey, just kidding. And anyway, what exactly are 'books like this'?" I am sorry but you may say oh it is okay he apologises and makes it okay, but he has only done that because he knows a number of women would stop reading at that stage and he wants people to carry on. It is like being at school and someone mocking you and following it up with, "ha, jokes." I have been humiliated but because you put, "jokes" at the end this is supposed to make it okay? Sorry Frank, but it doesn't.

I felt like there was an attack on my own understandings. Going back to the original quote I used at the beginning of this blog, Frank is talking about women discussing football. Coming from a devote Middlesbrough FC fan who has previously had a season ticket and has grown up with football of any every division you can think of both professionally and not, I find this insulting to generalise that women don't understand the terminology in football. Yes, it's a joke, yes he's writing this for the sell of the book but it is not necessary.

The book was written in 2001, perhaps this shows a change in the times. These kinds of comments could have been okay then but had I have known the way Frank talks in the book, about women, about himself and how he bullied his way through childhood I would have not bought the book.

I am the first to admit though I will still watch him on telly, however, it will definitely make me look at him differently when he talks about poor little me coming from a working-class background. He claims to be a devote, strict Catholic...who sleeps with anything that moves, got married and divorced within 10 months and is a recovering alcoholic, oh what a good little boy. I fully acknowledge people have a background and they make mistakes, I am by no means a Saint, but he does not seem to want to acknowledge what caused all of these things, everything is a joke and it doesn't matter at whose expense.

I do enjoy an autobiography and it has been a long time since I have read one. I do prefer autobiographies to biographies as I feel you get to know the person better, they make the person feel more approachable and understanding. So I did feel I got to know the real Frank.

Overall, if I was to recommend this book to someone I would give them a good understanding of what to expect. I wouldn't reveal the jokes or the stories but I would let them know it could have a big influence on the opinion you originally held of Frank Skinner.

Rating: 6/10
10-Word-Review: Wouldn't recognise him as the same person, very disappointed Frank.

Next, I will be reading The Only Way by Victor W. Watton. This is a book which has been bought for me by my boyfriend as he knew the author and had highly recommended him. The author is unknown to me, however, I have done some research and have found he has quite the repertoire of books. I have high hopes for it...Steph xx

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