Following the trend of relentlessly ordinary memoirs initiated by
Sylvia Smith's Misadventures, this is the male coming-of-age
version. Totally unmarked by traumas and hardships, the author
states that he's been inspired to redress the balance by all those
who have written miserable accounts of their terrible childhoods.
In this book, Andrew Collins re-acquaints himself with the young
Andy and is able to see himself more clearly than most. It's not
everyone that gets to look back on a day-to-day record of their
growth and development with a dispassionate and sympathetic eye. He
owes a debt of gratitude to one of his grandfathers who kept every
single card, letter and postcard he'd sent him, and to his parents,
who have 'the complete artistic works of the young Andrew Collins
stored in a suitcase in their attic'. More Adrian Mole than Alan
Clarke, most of the early entries are of the 'we went, we saw, we
played, we ate' variety. In the first diary, aged eight, the young
Collins views his world almost exclusively through TV programmes
such as Tom and Jerry, Jackanory and Play School. He is immune from
childhood ailments and describes himself as hardy, full of energy
and seemingly unbreakable. As the diaries progress, there is very
little childish introspection. Andrew's parents are hazy figures
and he doesn't appreciate his four grandparents as people until he
is out of his teens. Even his home town is unremarkable. Of
Northampton, he writes: 'There's no outward mythology to the place.
Nothing to remember it by or plan a return visit for.' By his teen
years, the author admits that the diaries exhibit an irritating
smugness and blames The Goodies and Monty Python for this. Entries
have become 'scribbly entries with lazy, rudimentary drawings, torn
pages, dishonest tampering with the text', especially with his
allegiances to different girls. Despite the plethora of girls'
names he admits to not being much interested in them. He doesn't
lose his virginity until 18 and true to the pledge of ordinariness
this rite of passage is totally excised. The author concludes that
his first 17 years on earth had seemed like one long 'good stroke
of fortune'. One of the drawbacks to this of course came when he
hit the world outside - 'I thought that this was what life was
going to be like in the foreseeable future.' Extensively footnoted,
this is an enjoyable wallow in the minutiae of daily life in the
'70s. (Kirkus UK)
Andrew Collins was born 37 years ago in Northampton. His parents
never split up, in fact they rarely exchanged a cross word. No-one
abused him. Nobody died. He got on well with his brother and sister
and none of his friends drowned in a canal. He has never stayed
overnight in a hospital and has no emotional scars from his
upbringing, except a slight lingering resentment that Anita Barker
once mocked the stabilisers on his bike. Where Did It All Go Right?
is a jealous memoir written by someone who occasionally wishes life
had dealt him a few more juicy marketable blows. The author delves
back into his first 18 years in search of something - anything -
that might have left him deeply and irreparably damaged. With tales
of bikes, telly, sweets, good health, domestic harmony and happy
holidays, Andrew aims to bring a little hope to all those out there
living with the emotional after-effects of a really nice childhood.
Andrew Collins kept a diary from the age of five, so he really can
remember what he had for tea everyday and what he did at school,
excerpts from his diary run throughout the book and it is this
detail which makes his story so compelling.
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