It’s Not Me, It’s You – Jon Richardson

Thursday 23 June, 2011

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As anyone who knows me should know, I have been a fan of Jon Richardson for quite some time now. Since December 2007, to be precise. A little late than some, but earlier than some others (She says, smugly). This was all down to finding out Mock The Week favourite Russell Howard had a radio show and the rest is history. If you don’t know who Russell Howard is, I suggest you google him, as this is about Jon Richardson and his highly anticipated book.

After an introduction, he is quite clear in stating that this book is not an Auto-biography. Well, it doesn’t need to be, because we still end up seeing deep into his inner monologue as he tells us of the events of Four specific days in his life.

Did these events really happen? Well, i’m sure they happened, but as much as I know from his radio show, snippets of stand up i’ve seen and his anecdotes on panel shows, it’s possible that they didn’t happen exactly in the order presented to us in this book. But don’t let that stop you from reading this book. Far be it for me to marr this book with rumours of falsehoods and fairytales.

Over the four days, the book presents us with how Jon deals with his daily life. Not the average day of his life, but what the most reoccurring features are of his daily life. There is a woman named Gemma that he keeps referring to, an experience in a hotel, much journeying, fits of rage and hatred, his coping methods and a very well executed knock down of a pompous loud mouth in a suit and a meeting.

We eventually find out that Gemma is a woman who has mutually shown an interest in Jon and that the flow of consciousness that is this book has all been sparked by Gemma’s suggestion they go out on a date.

Some people say that other people are the personification of objects and ideals. This book, “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is the book version of Jon, which makes sense as it’s Jon’s book. But what I mean is, is that if you’re a long-standing fan of the radio show and Jon Richardson, especially during the Russell days, then you already have had glimpses of the way his mind works and the way he thinks of the world and of himself. In the book, he says his stand up is like a 20 minute to an hour condensed version, except not as detailed or indepth and he’s right, but nothing in this book should shock or surprise anyone if they are a longstanding fan. He gets angry, he gets angry at himself, he gets angry at the world, and he back-and-forths on scenarios regarding the rest of the world, and before anyone knows it, he’s mapped out his future and is already picking it to pieces.

There is a lot of Meta going on in this book, by the way, just to let you know.

I think the most powerful thing he talked about in the book was when he says he picks up the glass and gets an overwhelming urge to just smash it against the wall. He goes to do it… and then stops himself, because a voice at the back of his mind says “Don’t do that” and backs up of why he Shouldn’t do that with a health and safety risk assessment. He then ends up in the bath, covered in a towel, calming himself down and doing something he calls the Zoom technique.

If this dude wasn’t a comedian, I really think he’d be a brilliant observational psychiatrist. He could even be both! This is why I adore this man. He has a moral compass that he questions and analyses but still sticks by, because he knows it’s right. He just doesn’t do what he is told is right, he questions and concludes that they ARE right. He has some issues, but he’s no different than the average man, but he still gets on stage and makes people laugh. He did it on the radio, he does it on panel shows and he does it on stage.

And now he does it in a book! This very book! I loved reading this book, from beginning to end. I genuinely didn’t want to put it down, and when I realised i’d nearly read it in a day, only then did I stop and put it down. It is too much of a good book to read in one day.

If you’re a fan of Jon Richardson, buy the book. If you’re on a fan of inner monologues by people who are riddled with perfectionist based habits, buy the book. If you feel like you have two people constantly arguing inside of your head, figuring out which version of yourself should be portrayed the most, buy the book!

He’s been so underrated for so many years. Thank who-ever’s out there that people are finally catching on to just how good he is. If you don’t believe me, watch a bunch of his stand up, watch him on comedy panel shows, listen to him when he’s on the radio, and most importantly…

Buy the book!


London – Not The Prime Example of Wheelchair Access

Wednesday 8 June, 2011

Today, Dear Readers (if I have any, that is) I’m going to talk to you about access. I’ve probably mentioned it before, its one topic I’m very experienced in. Mainly I’m going to be talking about Access in London.

A couple of years ago, I went to London for the very first time ever. Then a few days later, I went again. The second time, my destination was Croydon, which is in Essex, which I’d always believed to be a town within the Greater London area, but perhaps I was wrong all those years. It’s probable. Anyway, I definitely went to London once, and that second time I went Via London.

Both experiences have left me wanting Never to go back to London.

Here’s why: Awful Access.

Now, I can talk until I’m blue in the face about the poor access of the public transport in Liverpool is, I can talk until I’m bluer in the face about the access of public transport in the Midlands… But London takes the cake. London, our capital city, filled with tourists every day of the year… Possibly has the worst wheelchair access I have ever experienced.

And that’s including the time I was stuck in Liverpool Town Centre for an hour and a half because not one bus driver in five buses would put the damn ramp down.

Yes, much worse than that.

You see, once you’re in London, whether you know the city outside in or not, things are not always what they seem. London depends on an array of tube stations, bus stops, taxis and bridges to get people where they need to go. Unfortunately, London didn’t get the message that wheelchair users were people too. Maybe three tube stations on the whole tube map claimed to be “wheelchair accessible”. Tube Stations are either adjoined to main train stations, or you access them via street-level stair cases, for lack of a better description. There might be a Tube Station every 50 feet or there abouts, but if you can’t get down those steps (or up steps to the platform, in one case) then you just have to keep on going until you come accross a “level-entry platform”.

The problem is, these “level-entry platforms” still aren’t wheelchair accessible. There is still a massive drop between the Tube doorway and the platform, and the staff didn’t know what to do. One woman claimed she wasn’t meant to touch passengers, a late night security guard told us there was a wheelchair accessible tube down the road (There wasn’t, the station we were at WAS the so called wheelchair accessible station) and refused to be of any help. And then there was the fellow who sent me and my friend to the wrong station with no way of getting anywhere else, because it was the only wheelchair accessible tube/train station for our destination. And it was closed.

Maybe they thought we’d all, as in those of us in wheelchairs, would just like to see the tubes and observe them, not actually go anywhere on them, because I can’t see any logic in naming something as wheelchair accessible when its anything but.

So, OK, the tubes out. There’s other options like taxis.

To be honest, taxis have been the bane of my existence since I was 5 years old. Its a personal grudge, but when desperate times call for desperate measures, one can’t be choosy.

Unless a very expensive London taxi wasn’t in your budget, and you’d already paid so much on the train ticket to get you to your chosen destination. One might suggest that when you’re in a city you don’t know, one has to be prepared for emergencies. We were, but its the principle of the thing.

If I was an average human being, I’d be able to travel on your average public transport. Why should a disabled person pay through the nose for other people’s failings. Don’t we deal with enough rubbish from society?

And then there’s the bus… Now, actually, as far as wheelchair access goes, the London bus I got on to at night, when I was at the end of my tether with public transport, was very good. Automatic ramp, accepted my national bus pass. There was an issue of a nark of a bus driver being very unhelpful to my friend, who needed to buy a ticket, but access wise, I was lucky. Smoothest part of touring London.

My only issue with the buses is that they don’t seem very… Reliable. My guess is that it was only so easy at that point, was because it was gone 11 at night. Earlier in the day and it might have been a very different story.

And that was two different days, with two different friends, to two different destinations. Both riddled with access problems, impending arguments with station managers, redirections and un-anticipated long walks.

London, the capital of Britain. Not really setting an example for the rest of the UK, is it? And I can only imagine what disabled Tourists would think! Never again, not on my life.