Michael Polkinghorne notes in his new book, By the Seat of my Pants, that “…my destiny appeared unexpectedly in by-ways or roads I had been misled into taking’.
That sets the scene well for this, his memoirs, where he follows with verve, humour and sensitivity, through both prose and his own poetry, the astonishing twists and turns of those by-ways. These naturally occur via a series of insightful and often poignant chapters in which he reflects frankly on some difficult soul-searching questions such as women, in “Les Girls”, the nature of art in “Bond Street Art”, the value of prestige in “The Bubble Reputation”, an almost Damascene experience in “My Father’s Mistress”, plus a long look at his unpredictable professional career in “A Romp in the Emperor’s New Clothes”.
And, with the irony that characterises much of his humour, he reports that he has already written his own obituary, presumably wishing to avoid the sentimentality which might accompany one written by someone else. After all, he asks, what is an obituary in this case if not a potted autobiography?
The notion of the emperor’s new clothes, and its implications for persona and self-image, both for himself and others, are recurring themes in this frequently philosophical book. Ideal for anyone who loves to look back and marvel at the roads travelled, By the Seat of my Pants is a fantastic and humorous take on life, loves, laughs and what follows on.
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