John Bishop – How did all this happen?

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I first heard about John Bishop when he completed his ‘Week of Hell’ for Sport Relief in 2012 where he simply

  • Day 1 rode a bicycle 185 miles from Paris to the Coast
  • Day 2 rowed with three others across the Channel (it took 13 hours after just an hour of sleep)
  • Days 3, 4 & 5 involved running from the English coast to London (a marathon per day)

I had imagined his autobiography would be all about being a comedian and getting into comedy, etc.  That is far from what this book is about.  It recounts the tale of John’s early life growing up in Winsford on the outskirts of liverpool, with his his brother and two sisters.  Life was tough (his father spent a year in prison) but he still got to University and went on to have a very successful sales career in pharmaceuticals.  The stories are really well told and the tales of how his dad adapted cars and vans to allow all the family to travel together are really funny.

You could say, so what?

John’s touching tales (and I did nearly cry at times!) about the things he has seen and done are really worth reading about. Did you know he –

  • nearly lost his left leg as a result of a bone infection at the age of 11
  • completed a charity bicycle ride from Australia back to the UK that took 10 months
  • doesn’t eat meat (and why?)
  • was a semi-professional footballer and played against a Liverpool reserve team where he was marked by Jamie Redknapp (years before ‘A League of their own’
  • nearly got divorced
  • understands the importance of a wardrobe as a marriage saver!
  • got his big break in TV at the age of 42
  • raised over £4million for Sport Relief

It is hard to see how he fitted all these things in (and there are a lot more than I have mentioned) as well as bringing up three children.  The stories are all  told with his wonderful sense of humour but are also touching.  All the situations where he discusses his wife in particular are told with a real sense of tenderness.

It is only in the final third of the book that John talks about how he got into comedy (almost by accident) and how his career has gone from strength to strength.  It’s all told in his comic style but without being too showbiz.  I particularly like the description on the sleeve where it states that John has come to ‘live the dream he never knew he had’.

This is a great read – I read it under four days.  I’d definitely recommend it as a Christmas present for anyone who aspires to be a comedian.

My wife Nicky and I had the pleasure of meeting John at his book signing in Birmingham and he really did come across as a genuinely nice guy!

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Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

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Ian-Roseweb

If you are looking for a romantic read with genuinely likeable characters then ‘Billy & Me’ is perfect! It is so well written you would never know that it is the first novel to be written by Giovanna Fletcher.  You may know Giovanna as she is married to Tom Fletcher from Mcfly.

It tells the tale of Sophie May a girl who kept a very personal secret from an early age.  Her life is put back together through a wonderful friendship with Molly whom she runs a teashop with. I feel like I have visited the teashop as you capture the imagery and delicious smells of the home cooked baking in the way Giovanna writes. Instead of spending a gap year at Molly’s Tea on the Hill, eight years on Sophie still works there. However when a handsome actor walks in everything is about to change for Sophie and Molly.

There are some very telling scenes where Sophie comes face to face with paparazzi that can only have been written by someone with insider knowledge of having had to deal with them.

The main characters are so warm that you will find yourself laughing out loud at them yet I still had tears in my eyes as the final scenes played themselves out.  Jill Mansell captured it perfectly when she described it as ‘A gorgeous, gloriously romantic read with buckets of charm’ and I can’t describe it any better.

– Ideal time to read – Holiday (I read it in two days)

– Who have I lent it to – Nicky (my wife) and Hannah (my 15 year old daughter)

– If you like this then read ‘Safe Haven’ (Nicholas Sparks) – the book is even better than the film

– Ideal soundtrack – ‘Obviously’ – McFly

– What am I reading now – Jane Eyre – read ‘Billy and Me’ to find out why

I had the pleasure of sitting near Giovanna at a recent McFly concert in Wolverhampton – hence the photo (and yes I probably am their oldest fan!).  If you want to get hold of a copy of ‘Billy and Me’ then Kenilworth Books should be able to get you a copy or @bookdepository can deliver anywhere in the world and it’s available to order at:


I really enjoyed this debut novel and am already looking forward to Giovanna’s next one.