I do love a good autobiography and Sarah Millican’s book How to be Champion combines autobiography with useful advice and even a cake recipe. You get the feeling Sarah likes everyone to get their money’s worth. I got this book for free from her publishers to review it (with the message I was ‘in for a treat’) but I highly recommend you buy it/put it on your Christmas list because whatever the recommended retail price this is a bargain. Although I do not recommend you read this book in public, unless you like snorting and crying with laughter in front of strangers.
Sarah tears through her childhood, listing the wildly arbitrary – and some not so arbitrary – reasons children found to bully her at school. However, don’t weep for school-girl Sarah, as she also mentions the things that made her happy in childhood, such as encouraging teachers, disco dancing and a hilarious story about a mix-tape. It’s worth noting this is also a neat little history document, with Sarah recalling living through the miner’s strike and the implications it had on her life.
She is particularly insightful when recalling her school years, with observations such as: “There’s no social mobility at school; if you’re a dowdy nerd, you’re a dowdy nerd for five years. But the minute you leave, you can be a funny girl with nine GCSEs and the whole world ahead of her.”
The 2005 Funny Women Awards finalist is wonderfully unapologetic about a number of things, her fondness for counselling after her divorce, her dislike of children and a maternal instinct reserved for her pets and her appearance. In fact Sarah republishes her glorious response to the criticism she received over her BAFTA dress and goes on to cite a review of her episode of Who Do You Think You Are? in comparison to Paul Hollywood’s. It’s pretty shocking.
This is a book in which the writer’s warmth shines through and the advice really is responsible and helpful. Do read it, you will learn something; even if it is just how to bake a cake.
Sarah Millican: How to be Champion is published by Trapeze and out now!