I picked this autobiography up in early January, planning to save it as my holiday book on that ill advised trip to Malta. Although the holiday wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, the book was genuinely entertaining and shed a whole new light on Frank, or Chris Collins as he was born.
I’ve always found him entertaining in small doses, although I find his chat show a bit too cringeworthy to watch on a regular basis. Back in Y2K (haven’t heard that one in a while), Fliss and I went to see the play Cooking with Elvis starring Frank, and it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. It was three parts smut to two parts smut and made no pretentions of being otherwise.
And that’s Frank, at the end of the day, and his book says as much. He comes across as a bit rough and working class because he is exactly those things, and although he’s enjoyed some fine success in the last ten years or so, what went before is a tale of a man who stumbles along wondering the same thing many of us wonder far too late into our lives – “what do I want to do when I grow up?”
His tone is informal and friendly throughout, and by the third page he says that if you’ve read that far then he considers you a mate and he might as well tell you the rest. It’s a nice touch, and as the book flits between present day and his childhood, you get a good idea of where Frank has been and where he’s at, all of the time never seeming to take life too seriously.
Along the way he breaks up with his girlfriend of the time, and their relationship had formed a prominent part of the commentary before that. He never wallows in the misery in a way that makes you feel you should drop your gaze, though, taking things like this in stride as much at the time of writing as he appears to have done all through his life.
Frank Skinner by Frank Skinner isn’t the kind of book that everybody’s going to love. You have to welcome the man in in the first place, which, if you’re offended by his comedic stance on things, will probably put you off reading it right away. And that’s a shame, because underneath Frank’s just like everyone else who comes from a council estate or working class background, just funnier.