Walk of Life: Feet on the Ground – Paul Northridge

What happens when we die? What is the meaning of life? What has ice-cold water got to do with sex? All these questions are answered in this book, well at least taken from my point of view in my autobiography.

I was born with Spina Bifida and therefore ended up with a different kind of a body and different aspect to life compared to the norm. I had a near death experience (NDE) at fourteen years old and I will guide you through that journey and how I reflect upon it more as I grow older.  My late teenage years and into my adulthood I have battled with depression, suicidal tendencies and self-harming. It was a secret battle where I would always put a smile on to show I was fine, and you know what FINE stands for? F’d Up (COULD SAY “FUDGED”UP, A FUNNY ALTERNATIVE), Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional. We all have our mountains to climb and with me being as open as possible in this book, maybe you can associate with my experiences too.

I wanted to find love, but I really thought it was an impossible task to be attractive yet disabled. I found love in Russia out of all places in the world and this is an amazing story of synchronicity as I truly feel that things happen for a reason.

Yes, I always kept a smile on my face even though I was in some dark places in my mind. I also have a great sense of humour so please stop from putting the book back on the shelf in thinking this is a doom and gloom book, because it’s funny as anything in places. I hope it will make you laugh, cry and most of all I hope it will help you.

That is the most likely the longest blurb I have yet featured on the blog, I say likely because I am too lazy to actually check.  Autobiographies are something I delve into relatively rarely, but the reading of is a whole different kettle of fish when you have spent some time with that person.

Paul Northridge was a colleague at my last place of work, and is a bloody nice chap to boot. During one particular conversation comparing the respective lack of candidate interest for the apprenticeship vacancies we were trying to fill, we ended up meanering into other topics – including sadly departed comedian George Carlin –  it was then that Paul revealed he was an author.

I said, “I didn’t know that, I review books”, to which he replied, “I didn’t know that about you either”.  That sorted out, I got a copy of Walk of Life and read it fittingly on the often delayed bus that took me to work.

The style of the book is best described as relaxed and chatty, like being down the pub with a mate and the obligatory few pints. There are digresssions aplenty but less meandering than Marcel Proust’s were, and come back to the point much quicker.  This conversational style is refreshingly and sometimes brutally honest but always self-effacing and much less ‘edited’ than other autobiographies.

Littered throughout are references to British pop culture of yesteryear which I hadn’t heard of in ages, and had me searching the internet for far too long in a fog of nostalgic bliss, but it could just have been the frost that had crept inside the bus and clung to the windows in those cold days of winter.

This is the type of book that the reader will pick up and fly through, it is safe to say that Paul’s life has had plenty of ups and downs yet his warmth and sense of humour always shines through which helps when reading the tougher sections of the book.

Those challenging sections don’t hold back when it came to the bullying around Paul’s disabilities and how that affected him growing up.  Perhaps this had even more of an impact for this reader having spent time chatting with the author but the issues it highlights are important, nonetheless.

There are things about the book that left me a little cold, the first is minor and probably a little strange to most but I have a real aversion to old photos in general, so these are not my cup of tea, but for those of you who aren’t odd like me, the photos will no doubt be a pleasant chronicale of a gentle aging.  The second is the ending which goes into conspiracy theories, which may, or may not be your thing.

Finally, Paul speaks of being a ‘togetherist’ and laments the things that drive us apart, the differences, manufactured or otherwise. It seems to this reader at least, that being more aware of each other and our past experiences would benefit us all, and what better way to begin understanding than to settle down with a good book.

9 Replies to “Walk of Life: Feet on the Ground – Paul Northridge”

  1. Ste J, Some people are said to be so open-minded as really to have no mind at all! I once had that said about me due to my affection for out-of-the-way topics and authors, but somehow, you seem to have gotten by with it. Fair sailing to you, say I, as you continue to illuminate the byways and highways of literature with your steady lamplight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no mind to mind the close minded. With your reference to sailing it reminds me to review The Rime of the Amcient Mariner at some point soon. I shall carry on delighting in the mainstream, obscure and whatever else is in between. I am moving ever onwards with the reading and writing, the juggernauts continues with only minimal puncturing of the tyres.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you so much Ste for your wonderful blurb! It’s very much appreciate that you took the time to read my autobiography and then to do a full review with showing the good, the bad and the ugly bits on the book.
    To know that my digressions were less meandering than Marcel Proust’s is lovely to read and made me chuckle as I do go off at tangents! Yes, the tinfoil hat was well and truly glued on my head near the end of the book. I hope some folks find a comfort to read about my Near Death Experience and glad that my warmth and sense of humour always shines through.
    It’s a real honour to know you, anyone who likes George Carlin must have the same sense of humour as me and you’re a bloody nice chap to boot too!!!

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    1. I am surprised it took us so long to get to the writer/reader dynamic but it was god to grab your book and give it a thorough read. It was one of the good things about the commute. I look forward to the follow up in thirty or so years time.

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  3. It does sound like quite an interesting book.
    Conspiracy theories are part of the problem these days, IMO.
    Of course how Paul deals with them is the tell.
    Thanks for the review, Ste J.
    Hope all is well!

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    1. All is well here, stull shambling around doing the usual I hope you and yours are doing well? I do like to have look at conspiracy theories just to challenge myself with what I know and how I come by that knowledge, and if course if any of these theories have any sort of merit to them. Where I find the time, I do not know!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, I suppose we all find time for what we really want. We are well, here. Unfortunately, I do know a few people who died from Covid.

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