Sunday 24 May 2015

Loved the book

I've just read Romany and Tom by Ben Watt. I took it on holiday and devoured it in two sittings. I doubt very much if there has been a finer book written about parents from the perspective of their offspring.

From Watt's preface: We only see the second part half of our parents' lives - the downhill part. The golden years we have to piece together. It's hard to think of our parents as young - or maybe I mean young adults - when everything was stretched out in front of them and was possible. The versions of them we we see and judge everyday have been shaped by experiences they've had, but which we have never known: the times they were hurt; the days they won; the times they compromised. For much of it we were simply not there.
We need to read the things they will eventually throw away, to listen out for the offhand remark and the moments of lucidity. We might even learn something. About them. And ourselves.

I was so moved by this book that I got it into my head that I must contact Ben Watt: I know, I'll write him a letter. I'll tell him just how moving I found it and how well written it was. How well researched it was.  How so many references struck a chord with me. And that I think he's brilliant and everything. In fact just how he describes in the book where, on a family holiday in 1971, Watt found himself staying in the same hotel as his hero, Peter Osgood. Watt went up to the Chelsea and England centre forward and told him how big a fan he was, about the replica Number Nine shirt he owned, the posters on his bedroom wall, how great his recent Cup Final diving header was. And everything. Osgood, non plussed, just looked down at him and said 'Oh, yeah?'

I may just send him a Tweet instead. 'Loved the book' it will probably say.


  1. Ooh that sounds good! I loved Tracey Thorn's autobiog recently too. Cheers for the tip mate

  2. This sounds right up my street. It's been added to the list.

  3. When my mum died I was surprised by how many people from the small town attended the funeral. I knew some of them, and recognised others by sight without realising that they knew my mum. School friends probably, or maybe some work pals. Perhaps her first boyfriend was there. Who knows.

    I think Ben Watt is right, we don't really know our parents, we have no idea what type of people they were when they were young.