Have you ever seen a more perfectly titled book? I mean, as Jay Blades is the presenter of ‘The Repair Shop’ and a furniture restorer, he is definitely used to making it.
Jay Blades has become quite a TV star in recent years. As the warm-hearted presenter of ‘The Repair Shop’, alongside presenting a programme supporting people in developing their craft skills in his workshop, with the occasional history programme, and sharing his struggles in learning to read, he has built up quite the fanbase throughout the generations.
Yet, life has not always been plain sailing for Jay Blades, and this autobiography takes us chronologically through his life and his struggles. He does not hold back or sugarcoat any of his past; he tells his story with honesty and shares how he learns from his actions of the past. However, it does make for an emotional read when you realise how easy it can be for some to end up on the wrong path and how, sadly, society did not always welcome with open arms those that it did not see as having the ‘right’ to be in the country.
But Jay Blades has never let anything hold him back, even when he has a breakdown, which he talks about with real honesty. He accepts the help that is around him and the kindness of practical strangers, taking this as a chance to make a fresh start and rebuild his life. And there is an important lesson here for all of us as he makes it clear that it is so important for all of us to talk, understand when we are struggling and ask for help, but especially for men to ensure that they do this, as there is such a ridiculous stigma, still, that seems to stop men from talking about emotions and feelings.
As with all memoirs, to get the full experience, you need to read this book for yourself. I really do suggest you do, because there are so many important stories amongst its pages and, if you are a fan of Jay Blades, you will be a fan of this book.
In October, I was lucky enough to attend Stratford Literary Festival and hear Clive Myrie talk about his new memoir. This was a book that was already on my radar as I have a lot of respect for Clive Myrie as a journalist and television presenter (he was definitely the correct choice for Mastermind). He was also a very nice man when I was lucky enough to meet him after his talk; just a lovely gentleman.
This memoir is an absolute joy to read, and I think it proves that Clive Myrie presents his real self in his life and work. I cannot recall all the stories that appear in a memoir; I mean, then you would not need to read it. However, for me, I enjoyed this because it is a memoir rather than a celebrity autobiography. The majority of the stories are sparked by something in Clive’s childhood or work life, and then it interweaves with events from history or a commentary of events on the world stage (and Clive Myrie has certainly been present at some of them).
This is about the experience of growing up in Bolton as a child of a couple who were from the Windrush generation. It explores the impact of this start in life, for him as a young boy, his parents as they start again in Britain, and his older siblings as they come to join the family in Britain. But it also takes us further, as it looks at the events that Clive Myrie has reported on, the parts of the world he has lived in, and how these experiences have shaped him and his view of the world. There is warmth and humour amongst these pages – but also there is commentary on some of the injustices in the world that we still have based on someone’s race; something you hope that, in the modern world, is no longer an issue, but – as we all know – sadly, it is. There were moments when I found this read incredibly moving; you go through so many emotions as you read this book and it is definitely something that any reader will finding thought-provoking.
I could not put this book down, as it is so beautifully written and is full of so many fascinating stories. This is a book for anyone who is a fan of memoir – not just those who may be a fan of Clive Myrie, but for those who have an interest in social history, political history and the general world that we live in.