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The Necessary Aptitude : A Memoir by Pam Ayres
  

The Necessary Aptitude : A Memoir

Biography / Autobiography   Books of the Month   

RRP £20.00

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Sue Baker's view...

September 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.

Not being a particular fan, I was rather dubious when The Necessary Aptitude was sent to me for review – but – Pam Ayres had me captivated. As I write, the book trade is busy predicting the top books for Christmas and under biographies, there was no mention of Pam Ayres. After having read it, all I can say is I’m very surprised, all the humour and observation you’d expect but being one of the last generation who can truly say they were a country child, her memoirs of childhood, village life and the country side are especially well-worth reading. She doesn’t gloss over the dark side, the animal cruelty, the treatment of mental and physical disability, the harshness of life lived with little spare cash but this is tempered by a strong and loving family life. Another striking theme is the difficulty of a girl in her position trying to break free and make something of herself; a feat that Pam Ayres has managed in spades.

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Synopsis

The Necessary Aptitude : A Memoir by Pam Ayres

"Next, I applied to work in the accounts department, a sealed room where women operated clattering machines like enormous typewriters. After I had catastrophically and erroneously applied all the wrong information to several trolley loads of documents and lumbered the staff with weeks of corrective work, I was shown the door by a tight-lipped manageress. I knew what was coming.

Over the relentless, furious din of machinery, I lip-read the familiar words: "Lacks the necessary aptitude."' Pam Ayres' early childhood in Stanford in the Vale was idyllic in many ways, and typical of that experienced by a great swathe of children born in rural areas in the immediate post-war years. Though her parents' generation was harrowed by war, better times were coming. Everything the family needed was within walking distance in the village, and life with four older brothers and a sister in their crowded council house was exceedingly lively.

In her late teens, Pam grew dissatisfied with her life as a Civil Service clerk with only the local 'hop' for scintillating excitement. Having seen three of her brothers called up for National Service and sent off to exciting destinations, Pam felt desperate for travel and adventure. She joined the WRAF and soon found herself in the Far East.


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Reviews

Ayres gives a wonderful account of what it was like to grow up poor but respectable in post-war rural England. Some of her writing in the early chapters, describing life as the youngest of six children in a council cottage in the Vale of White Horse, Berkshire, has the original freshness of classics such as Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford -- Kathryn Hughes Mail on Sunday I find her work sweet and sour, gentle and sad, and often very moving in its wistful way ...The descriptions of post-war Berkshire life in The Necessary Aptitude are wonderful ... The world Ayres evokes is Hardy's Wessex ... I do admire (and envy) this marvellous woman -- Roger Lewis Daily Mail


About the Author

Pam Ayres

Pam Ayres, our much-loved comedienne and broadcaster, has entertained us for almost 40 years since winning Opportunity Knocks in 1975. Her series on BBC Radio 4 is Ayres on the Air, and she has also appeared as a guest on Just A Minute, Loose Ends and Saturday Live. She is one of the UK’s top-selling comediennes with her theatre shows. Pam’s poetry collections include The Works, With These Hands and Surgically Enhanced, and The Necessary Aptitude is her memoir of growing up in Berkshire during the post-war years. Pam has appeared three times for HM Queen Elizabeth, and was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 2004. Pam and her husband have lived in Gloucestershire for over 25 years, where they have a smallholding with cattle, sheep, bees, chickens and guinea fowl.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th September 2011

Author

Pam Ayres

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Author's Website

www.pamayres.com/

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Publisher

BBC Books an imprint of Ebury Press

Format

Hardback
416 pages

Categories

Biography / Autobiography
Books of the Month

Memoirs

ISBN

9780091940485

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