All posts by Alice


Review: More Fool Me by Stephen Fry

There is a small part of me, sitting far to close to my ego, which is convinced I could write something brilliant/hilarious/moving for TV or Radio. It’s wrong, should you think you may expect something from me in the next few years. Every time I come into contact with the geniuses (genii?) I admire a spark ignites once more and I become delirious with ‘creativity’. Then hours pass, I read a book and become reticent. Realistically I’m a reader not a writer, all imagination and no action.

Stephen Fry is one of those individuals that takes me from self-revolted 28-year-old to narcissistic bright young thing.

More Fool Me is Fry’s third memoir. Every time I prepare myself to buy a new one I become irrationally annoyed. Why am I only getting to read a segment of his life, rather than beginning to present day? Then I remember I’m getting annoyed about not knowing the personal details of a person’s life and mentally slap myself. Then I feel weird about reading the personal details of someone’s life while secretly enjoying the process of understanding someone I admire. Memoirs and Autobiographies are more stressful to read than you would imagine – that or I am slightly ridiculous. I imagine it is the latter. Essentially I feel a portion of guilt every time I read about someone else. Having to acknowledge that a perverse part of me is incredibly nosy and likes to know more than I am willing to give back.

But, enough about me. The Fry Chronicles, Fry’s second memoir, was the first book I ‘reviewed’ back in 2012. It’s not my best ‘review’, I think all I did was moan that he wasn’t sharing the elements of his life I wanted to know. The selfish bastard.

Fry is writes beautifully in More Fool Me and drew me in in a way that he hadn’t in The Fry Chronicles. I laughed, I cringed, I ‘ooo-ed’ and I ‘ahh-ed’. It is a terribly good memoir, half reflection half diary entries (from the early 90s beginning just as Fry turns 36). I read various bits aloud to my sister that I knew she would recognise: Fry rescuing the manuscript of Sense and Sensibility from Emma Thompson’s dying Mac computer. And his lamenting that she hadn’t a role in mind for him.

It was a reminder that Fry lives a life far removed my my own, though he neither acts as if he is deserved nor apologies for his success. If anything, much as his previous memoir did, More Fool Me reminds me that if I am to succeed I must take action, fortune will rarely land in your lap.

I forget how much I like Fry until I have the opportunity to read him. A reminder that just because someone is in the public eye, it doesn’t mean you know them, or have a right to them or their time.

As the papers have relished talking about, Stephen was in the possession of a particularly nasty cocaine addiction during this period. The places he has snorted charlie made me giggle, and (luckily) in no way tempted me into an expensive habit. Mental health has yet to be touched on, but considering his diagnosis occurred post 1993 I suspect this period of his life was the lead up to the storm.

Do read More Fool Me, Fry is rather marvellous.

Poetry You Know By Heart

Yesterday morning I was catching up with the news on the Guardian app – as you do – when I read Alison Flood’s article discussing poetry you know by heart.

It got me thinking: I post a poem every Wednesday, but which of them could I recite. My lyrical memory is atrocious. When it comes to remembering lines or quotes I am never able to recite without significant practice. However, there are the odd lines that come to me in passing, and on this occasion – as as I continued to ponder the aforementioned topic – my favourites came to mind.

For example:

“And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more”

When I have fears that I may cease to be by John Keats
My favourite poem, it’s stunning. You picture Keats writing it, you picture the poem’s subject living it, and you picture the fair creature of an hour observing it.

“But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep”

– Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
This simple poem was not written about anything more significant that a snowy evening. Yet, I cannot read this poem without picturing the rider’s journey on a larger scale. Stick to the path, or wander into the beautiful forest?

What lines from poetry do you remember? Can you recite a whole poem?

Poetry: Fill For Me A Brimming Bowl by John Keats

Fill for me a brimming bowl
And in it let me drown my soul:
But put therein some drug, designed
To Banish Women from my mind:
For I want not the stream inspiring
That fills the mind with–fond desiring,
But I want as deep a draught
As e’er from Lethe’s wave was quaff’d;
From my despairing heart to charm
The Image of the fairest form
That e’er my reveling eyes beheld,
That e’er my wandering fancy spell’d.
In vain! away I cannot chace
The melting softness of that face,
The beaminess of those bright eyes,
That breast–earth’s only Paradise.
My sight will never more be blest;
For all I see has lost its zest:
Nor with delight can I explore,
The Classic page, or Muse’s lore.
Had she but known how beat my heart,
And with one smile reliev’d its smart
I should have felt a sweet relief,
I should have felt “the joy of grief.”
Yet as the Tuscan mid the snow
Of Lapland dreams on sweet Arno,
Even so for ever shall she be
The Halo of my Memory.