This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
14.11.19 / Non-Fiction / Ebury Press / Hardback / 256pp / 978-1529105391
Target Audience: Readers looking for insights about battling middle age decline, how to handle life as we advance in years and remaining healthy, passionate and relevant. An overview about making life better for ourselves and others from a leading voice in comedy and modern culture.
About How To Grow Old
How to Grow Old is a stupid title, because the answer is obvious: Don’t Die. Provided you don’t die, you are growing old.
Don’t come to this book under any illusions. It isn’t going to tell you how to stay alive any longer. It won’t help you understand the aging process from a sociological and anthropological perspective, and I’m not sure how much practical advice you’re going to get.
However, if you happen to want to know what a white, heterosexual, middle-aged man thinks of getting old – from the struggle to stay fit, keep hold of your friends or stay relevant, to why I’m better at doing a dump now than at any time in my life – this book could very well be exactly what you have been looking for. You might even find it a bit funny.
How To Grow Old Review
John Bishop may just seem like just another white heterosexual male comedian offering advice in how to face middle age and beyond in the unforgiving arena that is the human body, but his voice may be one you will want to heed. If you are already familiar with John Bishop, either in a positive or critical way, you might be thinking that you know what to expect in How To Grow Old. I am pleased to say that John Bishop’s excellent brand of humour is present but it’s his honesty and outlook on life that makes this a book worth picking up.
John Bishop is more than just a comedian. John is a family man, a friend of the LGBT community, he speaks out for equality and also raises awareness about mental health concerns surrounding the elderly. John turned a corner in his mid thirties when facing the thought of losing his wife and family. He took up comedy and began sharing his witty observations about working class roots, the state of affairs in Britain and his life as a father and a husband. At the same time becoming one of the most popular British comedians of all time.
John went on to host a series of programmes that explored a wide variety of subjects, his most popular being In Conversation With… where he had the opportunity to explore success and vulnerability with a wide range of popular guests. This to me is what makes John Bishop relatable and his opinion matter. John is able to share all aspects of his life, for better or worse, in the hopes that another might miss that pothole in the bumpy road that is life. Or at least give others a chance to brace for impact. That is the heart of How To Grow Old, it is a heads up for every human being, no matter what status, background, nationality or gender.
Hitting middle age is an crucial phase in everyone’s life where a new understanding of our body is needed to continue living comfortably. John is at the epicentre of his self diagnosed decline (which for men begins in the mid to late 20’s) and How To Grow Old is a chance to be open and honest about this chapter of his life, to embrace his situation and adapt, enlightening others along the way. Whether you are currently facing middle age, if you are young, fresh faced and eager or if you have already got that particular T-shirt, How To Grow Old aims to connect us all, if at least in the appreciation of a good dump.
John Bishop talks candidly about his experiences with waking up old, fashion, relationships, relevance, travelling, keeping fit and trying to be funny both as a career and as a dad. What begins as a nostalgic and reflective passage quickly becomes a torrent of solid, and at times hilarious, personal insights into the not so graceful art of crashing into your 50’s. John has learnt lessons the hard way. Whether it be cursed holidays, ill fitting or drastically expensive custom suits, navigating a new over sensitive age of comedy that requires some creative word play to over come (that epidemiology come back was awesome) or maintaining relationships, John has seen more in this regard than most people.
What really makes How To Grow Old shine is John’s spirit, his ability to keeping moving forward and cultivate passion wherever he can. It is incredibly infectious and when you combine that with his warm, thoughtful manner it is a real engaging read. I wasn’t sure if I would find it enjoyable or interesting because of the fact that I am in my 20’s but I was definitely hooked all the way through. Even the subjects of little interest to me (i.e football…) had a interesting focus on relationships and interactions that made me reflect on my own choices. My only real issue with the text is that underlying ‘my great life is both a blessing and a curse’ kind of vibe that peeks through now and again. It was slightly grating at times. Though that feeling is massively offset by the fact that John Bishop uses his platform to raise a lot up people up with him too which is important.
John Bishop is the perfect combination of old and new. He embraces all generations of people and strives to understand, support, encourage and discuss the world around him in meaningful ways. A man who can combat sweaty balls and accidental farts and still deliver poignant moments about suicide prevention and loneliness in the elderly is a person worth taking note of. John Bishop thrives on pressure, and there is nothing more frustrating than having a keen mind saddled with a deteriorating body.
The last important element to note is that the advice from the NHS that has served him well over the years is available here to round off the whole experience and it really made me sit up and pay attention. How To Grow Old is a compelling reading experience that mixes relatable humour, harsh realities and down-to-earth, humble opinions into a must read for all. John Bishop’s story is inspiring and worth anyone’s time as you will discover, laugh and be prepared for anything that might come your way.
About John Bishop
John Bishop was born in Liverpool and grew up in Winsford and Runcorn, Cheshire. He started his career in stand-up after a chance performance at an open-mic night when he was 35. Shortly before his 40th birthday he decided to quit his job to pursue a career in comedy; within three years he was playing to sell-out arenas nationwide and had released the fastest-selling debut DVD in history. In 2013 he wrote the Sunday Times bestselling, How Did All This Happen. John has been married to Melanie since May 1993, with whom he has three sons, and wherever he lives John will still always support Liverpool FC.