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As a City fan, for years I've needed a reason to laugh, we've not always been league champions. It's a bit of a shot in the arm for me when somebody famous comes along, especially a popular comedian like Jason Manford, and shows their pride in being a City fan. Prior to the "coolness" that Oasis being Blues gave us, we only had people like Curly Watts, Little and Large and Bernard Manning to look to. So, you can see why us Blues didn't always have many things to smile about.
I'd heard that Jason's book mentioned his being a City fan quite heavily, so I didn't mind splashing out and getting the hard backed copy.
Released in 2011, it covers his life from birth to just before making it big time, with a jump at the end to Christmas Day 2010 (which was just a couple of months after his infamous Twitter scandal). The jump misses out his being a household name - possibly left out purposefuly as material for a second book?
The book flows really well, and it's absolutley littered with funny stories - my favourite being his mate's encounter with a helium bottle in a student flat. I won't tell you the full details about that episode, but it did make me laugh out loud which rarely happens when I'm reading a book (Aguero's late goal aside, we can still be a miserable bunch us City fans!).
The book has great balance though - it's not just a joke book masquerading as an autobiography. There are some very sad moments in there which give this balance, mainly involving failed relationships. I would imagine that my wife would have been blubbing on several occasions had she read it. Not me though, Mr Iron Pants. (I cry watching Watership Down, shhh, don't tell anyone!). Again, I won't give any spoilers, but be prepared for some gritty, tough moments. I got the impression throughout the book that he'd never been able to find true happiness in his working life until he made it big in comedy, but it's obvious whilst reading his account that he didn't know at those times that he should just go for it and try to be be a succesful comedian. I can relate to that - a succesion of crap jobs until you find the one that you know you're meant to do.
I could also relate to his thoughts on City whilst growing up, as we're of a similar age and I too experienced the ridiculous 90's - from watching Kinkladze the little Georgian superman dancing round defenders as if they were standing in quicksand to playing in the third tier of English football. It was nice to read that it seriously depressed someone else too!
When it come's to the book's ending, I was disappointed that he's only put a single line in about his Twitter based scandal which subsequently led to him leaving his job as presenter of "The One Show". I would have thought that he would have used the book as an opportunity to put the record straight about it all, be he shrugs it off with the cool indifference of a Mario Balotelli penalty kick and instead writes about Christmas Day morning 2010 at home with his family and his love for them all.
As much as I enjoyed the book, I did find it woefully quick to read; my 309 page version took just over four hours to read and at an RRP of £18.99, I don't consider this to be good value for money. Thank heavens instead for the cheaper price on Amazon - currently available for £12.34 brand new, and £5.91 as a paperback.
Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it (rather obviously!) to Jason Manford fans, or just people who are aware of who he is and want an entertaining read. It entertained me.