My first non-fiction book of the year and of course it had to be the Big Yin.
Windswept & Interesting
In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.
Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.
Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.
As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.
It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.
Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.
I’m so glad I got the audiobook for Windswept & Interesting, maybe I’m biased being a fellow Glaswegian but I could easily listen to Billy Connolly all day long, and there is something wonderful about hearing his story in his voice. Having watched his stand up and seeing him on many a TV show I knew a little bit about his life but I think his success feels like an even greater achievement when you read about his younger life, the hardships he faced and the fact that most people told him he wouldn’t amount to much.
It seems a bit obvious to say but what I loved about this book is how much humour there is in it, even when Billy is talking about some of the difficulties he has faced it is always eventually brought back around to something funny, he just has a brilliant positivity. I also loved listening to this book because it just adds an extra layer of warmth and nostalgia; the stream of consciousness style, the tangents, the singing, the unexpected laughter, it is so unequivocally him and it felt like you were spending time with a good friend.
I must also mention the chapter names, they are so much fun and it did mean that I was usually smiling at the beginning of every chapter, some particular favourites are…aim higher than “stupid but saveable”, get yourself a fire-breathing hootchy-cootchy dancer, and strip as many willows as you can.
I really can’t recommend this book enough but I would say that if you can, try and get the audio version because it is a joyous experience.