I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.
Letter to My Younger Self: 100 Inspiring People on the Moments That Shaped Their Lives, Jane Graham, (ed), Blink Publishing, with royalties going to the charitable work of The Big Issue, 448 pp, €19.99, ISBN: 978-1788702324 “Bones heal, pain is temporary and chicks dig scars.” If there was a prize for the pithiest piece of career advice offered to one’s younger self, Evel Knievel should win. That quote was the stunt performer justifying the risks he routinely took with his life (much of which, it should be noted, was spent limping from hospital to motorbike and back to hospital again). Not surprisingly, the late daredevil’s insights are not included in Letter to My Younger Self; this collection is reserved for people with a more realistic take on life and death. The condensed anthology – 100 interviews chosen from 500 published in The Big Issue since 2007 – includes contributions by Stella Rimington, Philip Glass, Mary Beard, Mo Farah, EL James, Werner Herzog, Diane Abbott, Chelsea Clinton, Ranulph Fiennes, Roger Daltry, Desmond Tutu, Salman Rushdie, Tracey Emin, Ian Rankin, Simon Callow, Billy Jean King and Max Hastings. Some deliver profound advice that would benefit us all; others make such hard work of their task that reading their words is like swimming in cement (stand up and bow, Andrea Bocelli). One contributor will make your slapping hand twitch (yes, Jeffrey Archer). But others, in a few sentences, will deliver a punch to the heart. Near the end of his letter, Johnny Lydon – once upon a time mouthy, badass Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols – makes an unexpected admission. “It’s a shame that when I think of everything I’ve done, I’d trade it all to have brought a new life into the world.” He and his wife, Nora, were unable to have children, and he sweetly goes on to say: “I’m kind of well-known where I live for running really good parties for kids – Halloween, Guy Fawkes – I love doing it.” Ozzy Osbourne wouldn’t offer any advice to the young Ozzy, not even a warning regarding an early career segue into burglary that did not end well. But he knows what he’d like to do if he could live any day again: in his delightful letter he says he would change the ending of the day her married Sharon. “I was off my face all day and didn’t make it to the bedroom suite….
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