Book – Anything Goes
Author – John Barrowman
Year – 2008
Pages – 250
Genre – Autobiography
When you are in a relationship with someone, you gain a second family. In my case, I have been very lucky, as mine are brilliant, but it can take a while to start to get to grips with all of their quirks. I have adapted to mine pretty well I think. The way that Alex is almost exclusively referred to as Damien. The idea that theatre tickets are always the most important thing. The obscure quotes from weird films that I have literally never heard of. I can manage all of them, and embrace them for the wonderful eccentricities that they are.
Except for one.
Except for Barrowman.
John Barrowman (or The Barrowman as I feel the need to refer to him as) seems to hold a special place in the hearts of my girlfriend, her mum and her sister. In fact, Alex’s mum Jacqui has a life sized cut out of him in the living room that has been known to freak out more than one visitor. They all go off to see him every eighteen months or so, have paid for signatures, and show a general level of love for him that I find weird.
Because I think he is a prat.
Gurning, over the top, self aggrandising – I just find him painful to watch. As an actor he is fine – I would go so far as to say he is good, with both Torchwood and Arrow being brilliant programmes. But as a person I find him cringeworthy and annoying. However, in the spirit of family, I thought I would read his autobiography to find out about the real Barrowman.
He is a cringeworthy, annoying. gurning, over the top, self aggrandising prat. But I am increasingly okay with that.
Barrowman has had a charmed life, but to his credit, he never claims anything different. He even talks about how he feels for the struggle of so many men when they come out, but he was fine and it didn’t bother him. His overwhelming confidence in everything he does shines through, and there is no denying that it is somewhat justified – when at college he came over here to do a Shakespeare course and accidentally found himself playing the leading man opposite Elaine Paige in the West End. 48 hours after he had landed. I mean, borderline unbelievable.
And yet, this seems the norm for him. His best mates seem to be Bernard Cribbins, Suranne Jones, Rob Lowe and Cameron MacIntosh, which is not the kind of gathering that you would expect to see many places, but there you go. Half the stories in this book are so preposterous that you wouldn’t believe them of anyone else.
As a book, the big problem is that it is only about half of the stories. Unfortunately, with one of two exceptions (and those exceptions are very well done, and obviously deeply effecting to Barrowman) there is little to suggest anything other than a brilliant life. As a result, half of the stories in this freneticly told mass of stories that are off topic, tend to follow the basic line of “then I farted and it was really funny and everyone laughed” or “then I got the lead and it was really good” or “then we went to this place and it was good”. There is no depth to them, and they are just a list of things that he loved about his life so far, but don’t come across properly in the book. This is a shame, as despite the fact that he is hugely big headed, I genuinely grew to like him more as a result of this book, even as I struggled to find the motivation to pick it up.
So as to not finish on too kind a note about The Barrowman (I don’t know if I would hear the end of it otherwise), I will instead leave you with a quote he puts in that sums everything up about him, his life, and his autobiography. This is with reference to Scott, who he would eventually marry.
When we finally had our first official date, Cher was with us.