David Mitchell: Back Story
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It wasn't that he didn't know how to have a relationship; he was heartbroken. In , he went to a film premiere and met "funny, bright, sexy, nervous and confident" Coren and, "pretty instantly", he knew.
After a few dates, though, she ended it: her father had just died, she might have just met someone else, the timing was bad and so on. For the first time in his life, being alone made Mitchell feel lonely. As chance would have it, this period coincided with his rocketing public profile and interviewers began asking questions about his love life.
So he played up the persona of the "dysfunctional loser" to keep enquiries at bay.
But playing that role became, he admits today, "increasingly painful". And then Coren came back. Isn't that weird? I can't explain it other than to say I couldn't do anything else," he writes. On an overcast afternoon in a photographer's studio in east London, I find Mitchell munching, without much enthusiasm, on a shop-bought sandwich.
While every other male in Hoxton seems to be wearing a vintage T-shirt and jeans, Mitchell, 38, sports a defiantly untrendy jacket-and-trouser combination. He looks, in short, exactly how one would expect. With his slightly nervous manner, his sentences starting off hesitant as he mentally constructs a perfectly crafted argument or self-deprecating joke, he comes across in person just as he does on the many panel shows he populates.
Except that now there is an air of contentment, a sense of comfort in his own skin. But he is so obviously a man in love that it is frankly distracting. Every time he says Coren's name, which is often, his face pinks. He was amazed, he says, that anyone took any notice when they announced their engagement, but relieved that everyone has been so nice about it. I say I think people were rather charmed at the idea of the nerdy loner winning the gorgeous blond, and realise, too late, just how rude that sounds. He is quite ridiculously happy, and equally happy to talk about it.
This is surprising, because he writes at some length about how uncomfortable he has been about media interest in his personal life. Heat — of all publications — once papped him — of all people — kissing a woman in the street, an experience he describes as "humiliating".
Does being happy mean he no longer cares so much about his privacy? But he does more than merely answer questions. The chapter about Coren is downright uxorious and written in a very different tone. Did he find it easy to write? It sort of all came out in one go," he says.
Coren, he says, has been "very nice" about the chapter. It is a very Mitchell and Mark Corrigan concern, more anxious about the impression he gives than any question of authenticity. Certainly my clothesline is none of my work — they just ran them by me. When he originally conceived of the book, it was going to be mainly about the London walk but, gradually, the memoir element took over. What about the suggestion that his recent weight loss and new beard are part of a post-relationship makeover? He laughs and denies it, saying the weight loss came from the long daily walks he takes to ease his chronic back pain, and the beard he grew some time ago: "But Victoria likes the beard.
Although Mitchell says he exaggerated his loner status, one of the reasons he used to appear on so many panel shows was because, "I didn't really have a private life at all.
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People don't like to think that you're on television because you've got nothing else to do, but that was pretty true. He's sort of come out of the discourse I've had with them. I don't know if this was a big campaign or just one of those things that happened, but it would be great if people could stop pretending that sports people are interesting, are literate, and are actually writing a tell-all-book.
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It is probably because David Mitchell is clearly the writer of this book, that the humour and the story told are entertaining yet honest, that I've enjoyed this autobiography. Too often in the past I've been disappointed with biographies and comedy books, so this was not just a good read, it was refreshingly good. TysonAdams Jun 20, As I'm sure he would admit, David Mitchell's life story is not the most dramatic, but he does tell it charmingly. He picks over his failures and successes with wit and insight, making a virtue of how recognisable they are, even to those of us who haven't ended up as panel show regulars.
He can also be surprisingly touching, especially when discussing his relationship with Victoria Coren and his sense of alienation in a changing media landscape. For an author who claims he doesn't want people to know who he really is, Mitchell gives a very good account of himself as a normal guy - only with greater wit and success. And for that I secretly resent him I'm sure he'd understand.
I liked the premise of taking a walk and allowing memories to be triggered. I like David Mitchell when he's on the telly. I didn't need to know his childhood history, although it was amusing. I liked the background detail about the comedy writing process and how he and Robert Webb got their break. I loved the openness he showed when talking about his love for his wife and how that revolutionised his life. I liked his honesty throughout the book.
If you have no idea who he is, most of it will be meaningless. There were moments when I cried with laughter, so glad I wasn't reading this on the train, or worse on stage opposite David when he sports a bow tie. I love Peep Show and Would I Lie to You, so was pleased that the person revealed in this memoir was as I had hoped, funny and truthful, and a talented writer, putting into words in that distinctive voice of his the awkwardnesses of being human.
Being David Mitchell (the one that didn’t write Cloud Atlas)
Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 11 82, 3. No current Talk conversations about this book. There's no book quite like the autobiography, since they are usually biographies with some poor ghost writer having to make an illiterate celebrity sportsperson sound interesting. TysonAdams Jun 20, As I'm sure he would admit, David Mitchell's life story is not the most dramatic, but he does tell it charmingly. I liked this book. Going for this walk with David Mitchell was delightful. And to its credit the University left him alone to get on with becoming a national treasure.
LARA Jan 3, You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. Back Story: A Memoir. Robert Webb. Olivia Coleman. James Bachman. Victoria Coren.
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