Now, now children, there is no need to get too excited. No, I am not about to reveal all, thank you very much. Have you recovered? Good. Because this is the title of Richard Branson's autobiography. I bought it on Friday evening and casually opened the first page when I got home to see what it was like. I am not exaggerating when I say that I am finding it really hard to put down. It's as exciting as a thriller, but funny and riveting at the same time. In fact I find myself chuckling at regular intervals and reading out passages to DD because I want to share it with someone. Since he isn't home 24*7 and I want to go gaga over it, I decided to do a post instead.
This is a really candid autobiography. I know that autobiographies are meant to be but you read some and get the feeling that it is just another PR exercise. I'm more than half way through and I'm really impressed by what he's achieved both on a professional front as well as personally. He comes across as truly honest, brave and above all a man really out to live his life to the fullest. He talks about his early days, how he was dyslexic and often beaten for faring poorly at academics. How he was great at sports but his sporting career came to an end after an accident. And really his journey to where he is today. His love for his family shines throughout the book.
There are two reasons I like this book. One it's extremely funny. He doesn't hesitate to narrate incidents even though he may be the butt of the joke. And the second is that it's almost like a thriller. His hot air balloon flights are amazing to read about. You read his narrative and think he must be extremely foolhardy to have attempted all of this and yet he survives despite terrible odds. He talks in detail about the campaign that British Airways ran to discredit him and to run Virgin Atlantic to ground. Did you know that he sent a Virgin plane to Baghdad during the first Iraq war to remove foreigners to safety only to find BA upset that he had volunteered.That in itself could be a movie. He's also very candid about his personal life and his numerous affairs and two marriages. It's also a fascinating insight into the world of music. All the shenanigans behind record deal and artist signings. Really interesting stuff.
To give you a flavour, here's one of my favourite passages from the book.
'I finally found a girl who was reputed to go the whole way, and at one party we slipped upstairs into a remote bedroom. I was amazed when she let me push up her skirt and take off her knickers. As we began to make love, she started to moan and groan. She was clearly having a very erotic time. I was pretty pleased by how well I must be performing since she was panting and tossing her head from side to side as she fought to control her breathing. I put up a great show and finally came with equally impressive gusto, roaring and shouting and huffing and puffing. Then I rolled off her. To my astonishment she carried on panting, apparently having what I took to be ecstatic multiple orgasms. Just as I was beginning to feel a little bemused and somewhat redundant, I finally realised that she was panting for a reason.
"Asthma!" she wheezed in breathless panic. "Inhaler! Ambulance".'
Here's another priceless gem.
'One day I was probably feeling rather self-important with all this floating around in my headd when I hailed a taxi and jumped in.
"Where to, guv?" asked the driver.
"Billingsgate, please," I said.
As we set off he looked quizzically at me in the mirror as if he half recognised me, and said, "Give me a clue?"
"You know," I said modestly, "a record company, an airline, Heaven nightclub, record shops..."
"No," the taxi driver said. "Give me a clue".
"The Atlantic crossing," I went on, "The Sex Pistols, Boy George, Phil Collins..."
"Excuse me, sir," the driver said, completely non-plussed. "I don't understand what you're rabbiting on about. Give me a clue as to how to get to Billingsgate."
Lots of fun. And now back to the book for me. Ta.