Saturday 19 November 2011

Things I Couldn't Tell My Mother by Sue Johnston

I was 16 in 1984 when Channel 4 was launched and I remember it clearly - the first programme was Countdown, followed by Brookside.  

I was hooked from the first episode.   Brookside was a soap opera like none of the others, fresh and new and dared to cover issues that hadn't been seen before on a soap.  I watched it from episode one right up until the end - even through the very odd storylines towards the end.

Although Sue Johnston is now more famous as Barbara Royle from the Royle Family, she will always be Sheila Grant to me.  

I loved the Grants.  Sheila and Bobby and three children Barry, Damon and Karen.  I had a massive crush on Barry Grant played by Paul Usher.

Things I Couldn't Tell My Mother published by Ebury Press is Sue Johnston's memoir and it's a warm and honest read.

You can almost hear Sue's voice as she tells of her childhood, her relationship with her parents, her marriages and her career.

What struck me the most is the fact that Sue has stayed 'real' throughout her career, despite the success and the fame and the OBE, she never strayed far from her roots and never lost that no nonsense attitude or her belief in social justice.

Sue's relationship with her Mother is a theme that runs throughout the book, they loved each other, of that there is no doubt, but it was never an easy love.   Sue never felt that her Mother was proud of what she did and knew deep down that if she had married a plumber, stayed at home and had two kids, her Mother would have been happier.

Despite this, their relationship was strong and her recollection of their last days together is very moving.

This is not a showbiz gossipy type of memoir, although Sue has many famous friends, this is a story about a real woman, who achieved her dream and has stayed true to herself.

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