My Dad used to always tell me, “Don’t blow your youth!” What he means by this is that the habits and opportunities you develop or ignore in your youth will haunt you the rest of your life. Such is the case with Tony Hendra in this autobiography of sorts about himself and his attachment to a surrogate father-figure in his Catholic priest friend Father Joe.
Mr. Hendra had a considerably less-than-ideal childhood. Though not as tragic as many dysfunctional families, it was certainly enough to warp his perception of reality and under-develop his emotional stability. He vacillates between unquestioning piety and virile agnosticism or atheism. He wrecked his first marriage and has unbelievable fights with his current wife—though, to his credit, he seems to have learned from previous experiences somewhat.
Throughout this, at times disturbing, narrative the author turns back to Father Joe, a friend from his youth, who despite living the seemingly sheltered life of a monk, seems to understand Tony better than he does himself. Father Joe deserves respect for his charitable and humble contribution to those lives he touched, but I think it is somewhat of a tragedy he didn’t serve in a more effective capacity out in the public more. Of course, he may not have developed into who he was in such an environment.
I sense a bit of embellishment in areas of the book by Mr. Hendra, but considering his career in entertainment, that is understandable and somewhat excusable. A couple disappointing elements that reoccurred throughout the narrative were his irrational slamming on Ronald Reagan (as if Reagan had anything to do with his emotional problems) and his mocking of the left wing politics in the U.S. as being ignorant and not at all left enough. These weirdly-placed statements only really serve to buttress his already fairly evident unstable personality.
All this said, it was a fun read and had a few insights, but I would probably not recommend it unless you are an avid Tony Hendra fan or you have already read all the more uplifting books in the world.