Gary and Gaunty

Gaunty                     Gary


They say that a happy man never writes his autobiography, and for reasons too ridiculous to go into here, I have been testing that theory when reading the memoirs of two showbiz types I have no immediate interest in, formerly former but now currenter-Taker Thatter Gary Barlow and until recently shock-jocker but now notter Jon Gaunt (the urge to call this post ‘Two Fat Bastards’ was remarkably strong, but I overcame it).

If Gary’s happy now, he certainly wasn’t that long ago, with several wilderness years of comfort eating and self-medication at the turn of the century.  Even though the book, My Take, was written (or at least completed) after Take That’s triumphant return, the wounds caused by the seemingly unprovoked spurning by the press and public, coupled with Robbie Williams’ incessant and childish Gary-baiting are still raw.

It’s very rare for someone to make the whole of their life seem interesting in print, and Gary is no exception.  The early chapters dedicated to his formative years spent accumulating Yamaha keyboards aren’t exactly filled with incident, but I suppose are of some sociological interest, while the Take That years read like they were written by someone who wasn’t really there.  But then, maybe that’s what fame’s like a bit, a series of events over which you don’t feel you have that much control and you’re not entirely sure aren’t actually happening to someone else.

Once Take That split and Gary embarks on his car crash of a solo career, however, the book becomes fantastically compelling and, at last, feels like something personal.  Anybody interested in the darker side of the music biz should check out the horrifying story of Gary’s visit to record boss Clive Davis’ house, where he has to ask to go to the toilet, and accidentally eats Davis’ breakfast.  This is followed by an account of what has to be the most humiliating live performance ever.

What is particularly striking about these chapters is the apparent randomness of it all.  For several years, everybody loved Gary.  Then they decided they hated him.  But he didn’t actually do anything to anybody.  It’s as if a wind of ill-fortune mysteriously blew in his direction and he was powerless to stop it.  Scary stuff.

The book ends, of course, on a high, with Take That triumphant and Robbie beginning to feel the effects of the same ill wind that hit Gary not long before while he gloated like a twat.  Although I never had any strong feelings one way or the other towards the Barlow beforehand, and wasn’t won over until quite late in the book, by the end I’d decided I liked him.  Nice chap.

Jon Gaunt’s Undaunted managed to work in precisely the opposite way.  His no-holds-barred description of an awful childhood and adolescence, with some time spent in a children’s home, made me warm to him, convincing me that beneath the bluster was a sensitive and generous man with a real and hard-earned insight into life.  Gaunty then manages to systematically erode all the good will he’s raised in the earlier chapters throughout the rest of the book, detailing his not-that-thrilling career in venue management and, latterly radio, with a mysterious pattern emerging of people working with Gaunty, them choosing not wanting to work with Gaunty anymore, and then Gaunty pointing out exactly how little that individual has achieved after that point.  It really is like reading Alan Partridge’s autobiography, where each anecdote ends with the phrase, ‘needless to say, I had the last laugh.’

The gaping holes in the logic that Gaunty uses to justify his thoroughly nasty world view are far too numerous to mention here, and deserve an article, nay, a book in themselves, but here’s a taster.  Throughout his troubled earlier years, Gaunty encounters various arty, liberal, Guardian-reading individuals who steer him out of trouble and into the world of theatre where he meets Simon Le Bon and Clive Owen who, needless to say, don’t go on to achieve anything once they’ve decided not to work with Gaunty anymore.  Gaunty then spends good chunks of the latter half of the book slagging off Guardian-reading liberals and placing the blame for a good many things at their door.  Seems like a funny way to pay your respects to people who saved you from  a life of crime, but there you go.  Jon Gaunt, the adult version at least, really is a logic-free zone.  Is he happy?  Is anybody as intolerant as he is ever happy?  I think if he ever truly attained the level of contentment and acceptance of past injustices that he claims to have reached here, he wouldn’t have an act.


2 Responses to “Gary and Gaunty”

  1. Good blog, although I’ve never heard of Gaunty. Who is he?

    Barlow was on X Factor last night – he looks much better as he has got older. A lot of it all seems so insincere, obviously. He told the boy band – look after each other. Which obviously isn’t what take that did.


    Do we care…..

  2. Who’s Gaunty? If I told you, it would probably lower your quality of life. Enjoy your innocence while you can!

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