Semi-Detached by Griff Rhys-Jones
In "Semi-detached" Griff Rhys Jones recreates his suburban childhood and adolescence in precise and evocative detail; every young trauma, embarrassment and joyous rebellion, hazily-remembered summer afternoons realised into the wild of the woods and forming feral gangs. He relives the freezing bus journeys to school and the impulsive stealing of half-a-crown from Charlie Hume's money box; holidays in the dreary exile of Weston-Super-Mare or outside Butlins at Clacton, longing to be in - images that are fixed in his consciousness, utterly fuzzy at the edges like a Mivvi but even more concentrated at the centre, frozen into a gooey sweet jam of pure recollected emotion. A confident middle child, Griff adored his mother Gwen and father Elwyn - a shy doctor and woodwork fanatic who loathed the tedium of English social ritual but had a penchant for sweeties and ice-cream and was constantly battling with his weight. These two people were the centre of Griff's young world, and so when he finally left the bossom of his loving, irascible, eccentric, solid, all engulfing family it was no easy process. If he hadn't moved around so much as a child, would Griff have felt less like an outsider? Less willing all his life to be a voyeur, looking in on the lighted window across the square, the Georgian house glowing in the sun, the blink of glasses and the bray of public school certainties? A real treat for anyone who remembers or want to know about Britain in the late 60's and 70's, laugh aloud at Griff's self-deprecating, elegant, affectionate prose, or understand a little bit better how on earth they got from there to here.