Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On reading Spike Milligan

I've just finished "Rommel?" "Gunner Who?" by Spike Milligan.

The man was mad.

Utterly mad.

And utterly brilliant.

Spike Milligan, for those who don't know, was a British musician, comedian, writer, and a member of The Goon Show (a brilliantly funny BBC radio program) along with Peter Sellers and Ned Secombe. He was also certifiably insane, and for part of The Goon Show was driven from the asylum where he lived and wrote to the studio to perform, then driven back again at the end of the show.

This book, written in 1973, is a ramble of thoughts and memories, paying only lip service to the idea of chonology, interspersing personal memories with scripts of imaginary performances starring Hitler and Winston Churchill and remembered nightmares so horrifying they had me in chills. It is funny and profane and horrifying without apology. The boredom, humour, fear, humanity, cruelty, absurdity and insanity of men at war spills out in a stream of consciousness that pulls the reader along with it.

It is one of the best recollections of war I have read in a long time, and I highly recommend it for those who haven't read it.

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