KNOCKING ON.  John Murray, 2001.

Man-about-Mitcham and diarist de nos jours Simon Crisp writes:

‘It is impossible to exaggerate the gratitude I owe the late Sir Alec Guinness. Had I not happened to meet my diarist hero on a bus in Mitcham Lane, there is every chance my own journal might have lain idle while the great events of history swirled around me, unrecorded.

At Sir Alec’s urging I took up my pen once more and committed to paper a daily account of dramas (both public and private), changes of fortune, forays into the cultural and artistic life of the nation, witty aperçus and telling insights into la condition humaine in what is (mistakenly) perceived as the first year of the 21st century.  And what a year it has been!

Forcibly retired from the public relations industry and divorced after ten tumultuous years of marriage to Belinda, I have been occupying the guest room in the south London home of my sister Priscilla (‘Piggy’) and Chad, her partner both in life and on the bric-à-brac stall in the local market.

But mine is a restless spirit, and the opportunity to take up a second career in the media was too good to miss. A weekly column in the Mitcham and Tooting Times (‘the Mitch and Toot’) is not quite the journalistic pinnacle I had in mind: ditto a twice-weekly stint on the local hospital radio.

However, thanks to some timely breaks (as a guest restaurant critic, investigative in-flight magazine writer for Flem-Air, and colourful contestant on a prime-time TV quiz show), and bolstered by the support of old friends (some, anyway) and the devotion of a long-lost lover, it looks as if I am about to achieve my life’s ambition in no uncertain terms.

Thank you, Sir Alec.  I am only sorry you did not live long enough to enjoy the fruits of your inspiration.

Reviews:

 

A man of literary parts, our Christopher Matthew. He currently shines in the role of poet - a kind of one-off Betjeman. Wearing another of his several hats, he is also the creator of 'Man-about-Mitcham' Simon Crisp - an upwardly mobile wannabe or accident-prone Pooter.....The things that happen to him can happen to all of us. It's just that, in the banana skin republic, of which he is a leading citizen, they happen to Crisp more frequently. Keith Waterhouse, Daily Mail

 

Crisp has the bounce quality of Tigger combined with the doomed destiny of Eeyore, and it's a winning combination. Miles Kington, The Oldie

 

Knocking On is a book to be read again and again. Barry Turner, The Times

 

Some of Matthew's set-piece jokes are worthy of Wodehouse. Hugh Massingberd, The Spectator

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