8 July 2022

Windswept and Interesting by Billy Connolly

I’ve good memories of Billy Connolly. I can recall watching his Audience with…’ programme in the 1980s with my family and us all laughing uncontrollably. Yet I’ve mixed feelings about this book. I’ve never read any of Billy’s books but, even for me, there was barely an anecdote/joke in here I haven’t heard before at some time. I have to admit that some of it is getting a bit tired.

He asserts he is not a violent man but he fully admits that he is free with his fists and has a casual approach to violence. He tells several tales along those lines. Yet, there is a disconnect between his attitude and the reality. Violence is OK when he does it as he is one of the good guys and he tells it as part of a funny story. All those who he lamps deserve it and he offers sage advice on how to best use violence. On those occasions he imbues it with a cartoonish quality, all the better to minimise the bleak ugly reality of violence. Of course, Connolly had a traumatic upbringing and he endured some horrendous abuse but, sadly, he revels in violence he has meted out, quite unapologetically, despite the awful toll it took on him.

…sadly, he revels in violence he has meted out, quite unapologetically, despite the awful toll it took on him.

There are other small paradoxes and if Connolly has more profound reflections on his own personality and behaviours he doesn’t reveal them here. It all feels a little superficial and, occasionally, one feels his ego just running away a little with the stories. Undoubtedly, he has a considerable amount of which to be deeply proud and he is one hell of a character.

Like just about everyone, I like him and I’m charmed by him. His tales are all told with enormous charisma and his trademark humour but I found it hard to ignore the underlying tensions.

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