As far as I know there aren't many publications of Richard Wilson, or indeed by him but I decided to review those that I know of. As soon as more come available I will report back.
I Don't Believe it! Richard Wilson's book of absurdities.
Author: Wilson, Richard
Publisher: UK: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd, 1996
Description: Hardback (left) and Paperback (right).
'It's truly a maddening world! When I look at all the crazy things people do to themselves and to other people. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
For instance, there's the case of the flat-chested bank cashier who stuffed her bra with money to impress her boyfriend. Accused of stealing, she said she had meant to return the money but the date went so badly she forget ... at least that was her story!
Richard Wilson's Book of Absurdities is a short but clever book that is useful as a quick coffee table reader (or toilet fodder) to grab when you have only five minutes and want to be entertained. It is a collection of very short facts, statistics and stories that will make you want to say 'I don't believe it'. Funnily enough, as I recounted a fact from the book a friend quickly retorted 'Kangaroo's an inch long at birth? I don't believe it.'
Some of the facts and figures are truly unbelievable and I took them with a pinch of salt. Richard swears that they are true facts but without using the tired old phrase I simply can't quite bring myself to accept the believability of some of them. Nevertheless, the book is a great little read that holds its own even 9 years after its initial publication.
Though Ireland was neutral in the Second World War, there were many Irish volunteers in the British Army. In 1942, when an Irish soldier asked his platoon commander for compassionate leave to visit his wife, who was about to give birth, the officer said he could not as he had had a letter from the soldier's wife particularly asking him not to do so. 'By God sir' said the soldier, 'I respect that entirely. You're as goof a liar as I am any day. Sure, I was never married!'
[On Noel Coward] One theatre critic Coward particularly disliked and who had been very rude about Coward's plays came backstage to praise his performance in a play in which he was starring called The Second Man by S. N. Behrman. The critic infuriated Coward by commenting: 'I always said you could act better than you could write.' 'And I've always said the same about you' was Coward's withering response.
Snails can sleep for three years at a go and they only mate once in a lifetime... but it can last for up to 12 hours.
On a luggage trolley at Singapore airport: Not to be removed from Crewe Station
In a dress shop: Wedding gear for all occasions.
This is just a small portion of what the book offers.
One Foot on the Stage. The Biography of Richard Wilson by James Roose-Evans.
Author: Roose-Evans, James
Publisher: UK: Orion mass market paperback, 1996
Description: Hardback and Paperback.
I have never favoured biographies and tend to wait until the autobiography is released. I was given this book to read by a friend so decided to give it a go. The book is a great summary of the life of Richard Wilson and highlights some of the more important aspects of his life.
Richard Wilson is much more than his role in One Foot in the Grave and the book fills in the blanks for the reader on other aspects of Richards career from its very beginnings through to his high as Victor Meldrew (which was still his active role when the book was published).
What struck me the most was that Richard has never really favoured acting as much as directing and mentoring, and it is in this medium as a director where he seems to shine. The book gives Richard the credit he deserves and shows the reader this side of Richard without concentrating on Victor Meldrew.
There are some amazing quotes in the book and it is a delight to come across them. I won't ruin it by listing them here but do watch out for them.
At first the book is very dry but it is worth sticking with it. Don't expect to be cutting into the mind of Richard Wilson. It is expressed at the very beginning that Richard is a very private person and that the author is not going to step beyond the boundary of decency by digging deep. This may put off many readers - don't let it. The book does show the reader the true Richard Wilson.
Overall I enjoyed the book immensely and was upset that I was reading it 9 years after its publication. It mean't that I was missing out on the last 9 years.