Tag Archives: autobiography

In the air tonight

Candice: I have just finished reading Phil Collins’ autobiography.  I actually bought it for the other half for Christmas but had finished my previous book and was looking for something else to dive in to.  It was collecting dust on his bed side table so I took the opportunity to steal it.

Well I’m glad it did.  I like bios – either self written or by someone else, though the autobiographies are always better as they are closer to the truth.  I like to know how celebrities ended up where they are as its often a strange collection of happy accidents as much as their planning to get famous.

Phil’s is a bit of both.  He was determined not to follow his father into insurance, a family tradition, but also had a wandering streak so when presented with a drum kit at an early age decided he wanted to do something really different from an office job.  It did help that his mother got involved with a talent agency and he ended up performing in ‘Oliver’ at an early age, whetting his acting chops.  But music was his real thing and by his mid teens he was a jobbing drummer looking for a band.

Though contacts and coincidence he ended up  auditioning for ‘Genesis’ an up and coming band with an already tight knit group of players.  Phil passed the audition but struggled to fit in.

There is a lot of talking in the book about his relationship with Peter Gabriel, the original lead singer in Genesis.  The rumour mill insists he was pushed out by Phil, Phil says it was all for Peter’s personal reasons and he was reluctantly made the new front man when no one else stepped up to the plate.  Reading the rest of the book you find out what a driven man he is so I think this is six of one and half and dozen of the other.  Phil’s Genesis explored a different musical route so I also think this would have been an influence.

The rest of the story takes me to the time of Genesis that I remember, and also Phil’s solo career.  He is one of the few people to have run concurrent careers, which meant a punishing schedule of touring and writing for both projects.  It made him a rich successful man, but also lost him three marriages in the process.

And then he decides to retire, and falls of a cliff.  With no focus for each day, alcohol takes over and he quickly becomes an alcoholic. The stubborn person he is it takes a few goes at rehab and arguments with family and friends before he realises it was give up the alcohol or life. Hence why the book is called ‘Not dead yet’!

I really enjoyed it, especially when it was at his peak as each record mentioned brought back memories of different part of my youth.  I can remember playing ‘No Jacket Required’ a lot, especially round at my friend Kathryn’s house for some reason.  I will be going out and buying the ‘best of’ album.

However, Phil is an interesting character.  He is focused and ruthless, there is no other way for him to have got where he was.  The book is quite open and I don’t think he would realise how some of the things he says or did would make some of  us wince. The music always came first, and pity his children, wives or even sleep if they got in the way.  I think his brush with death made him realise that there is more to life than this, but only just.

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Write your story down, NOW

Galloway Forest (7), Lowlands, Scotand.Phil: Yesterday I visited Candice for the first time since her daughter Erin was born. Mother and baby are doing well although I think the little one was unimpressed with my stripy shirt clashing with her own on-trend stripy onesie.

When you look at a newborn child you are seeing a blank page. Their story has only just begun. It could be filled with adventure, hopefully with love, perhaps with misfortune. Like opening a novel, you never really know what is going to happen.

In contrast, a friend of mine, John, died last week. He was well over 80 and his story had reached its final page.

Along the way there were many twists and turns. He used to recount some of these to groups of friends occasionally. Much of his life had been spent in agriculture and the story I remember most involved his time as an agricultural contractor.

In the run-up to Christmas, he and his colleagues had been ploughing in Scotland. On Christmas Eve the job was finished and they had to return home with their machinery. This involved a journey of 500 miles. On tractors. Not your modern tractors either, old ones that rumbled along with a top speed of around 20 mph. You can imagine how long it took.

In a hurry to get home, if you can call riding a tractor a hurry, they drove through the night arriving early on the festive morning. To make matters more entertaining, it was mid winter in an era when we had serious winters.

John’s description of being bundled up in all the clothes he could muster and riding an aged agricultural machine were both funny and awe-inspiring.

Sadly, all those stories have gone now. As far as I am aware, they only exist in the memories of those he told them too.

Candice was talking about the importance of trying to write down some of her recent experiences. While we won’t turn this into a baby blog, you can be sure that some of these will influence our future writing either in novels or short stories. Whatever, it’s great to get memories down in print. Perhaps we should all write out own autobiographies. Maybe they won’t be blockbuster sellers, but maybe one or two people will read and enjoy them.

At least the memories will live on.

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Filed under Phil, Writing