My 12 in 12 Challenge – March – Biographies and Memoirs – Book 7

The object of my 12 in 12 Challenge for 2020 is to try and read the physical books languishing on my to-be-read pile but Book 7 in this month’s challenge is one I recently bought for my Kindle because I couldn’t help it. I have enjoyed the work of Sandi Toksvig on Radio 4 for many years, especially on The News Quiz, and have read some of her fiction. I was interested to read her biography Between the Stops, especially when Amazon offered it at a reduced price.

The author has written this book in a different way. She describes the journey of the number 12 bus in London from her home to the centre of the city and as she progresses she tells us about the areas she is passing and snippets of its history as well as anecdotes of her life. This is not a straightforward narrative and means that the author can ration what she wants to tell us about herself by including more quirky facts and stories. It is a clever way of doing things and works very successfully as far as I am concerned.

The musings about history, culture and trips by bus are fascinating. I like this sort of thing and understand the pleasure of living in a rich historical landscape. I was also interested to hear about the author’s life as a comedian and broadcaster as well as an immigrant to the UK and someone who has lived in the public eye. Some of the anecdotes are very uplifting and some are very sad especially as she talks about attitudes to her lesbianism. There isn’t a huge amount about famous people she has known which is a relief and one of the reasons that I don’t usually buy autobiographies of famous people in entertainment – she fills that gap in with stories about people she meets on the bus or snippets of information about buildings she passes on her route.

This is a highly entertaining read and certainly different from the usual type of celebrity autobiography.

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