by Alexei Sayle - £9.99 Hodder & Stoughton (2011)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780340919590 | ISBN 10: 0340919590
Alexei Sayle was born in Liverpool on the day egg rationing came to an end. His family ate salad. They read the Soviet Weekly. They travelled on transcontinental trains, and in the back of futuristic limousines. They saw Communism in action and ate strange smelling sausages.
His mother, our very own Molly, was very keen on boiled eggs and the Moscow State Circus. Teachers were scared of her. His father was a union leader who made friends wherever he went. He thought he was fluent in Esperanto.
Alexei became a member of the Czechoslovakian Young Pioneers. Sometimes he was bored and other times confused. He thought he might be a great athlete, or maybe a famous artist. He spent a lot of time inventing complex explanations for the bizarre behaviour of grown-ups. Slowly it dawned on him that telling stories was a good way of making sense of his perplexing world.
Alexei's early life growing up in a Liverpool Communist family is laid bare for all - as hilarious as you'd expect and even stranger.
When I got home that evening I angrily asked my mother why she hadn't got me excluded from religious assembly because I was Jewish.
'I didn't want you to be left out,' she replied.
'So let me get this right,' I said, 'you called me Alexei when everybody else was called Sidney, you took me to see Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible rather than Bambi and Pinocchio. You made me wear peculiar trousers. You forced me to see the Red Army Choir rather than the Beatles. You told me Lenin came down the chimney at Christmas with my presents. And yet, and yet, the one time when me being different could have got me another half hour in bed, you didn't want me to feel left out.'
'Oh fuck off, Lexi,' she said.
(Price & availability last checked: December 2018)
In booklists: Comedy & Comedians, Radical Liverpool, Jewish Lives, Local Lives: Liverpool, Local Humour and Gift Books, In categories: Music & Performing Arts, Humour, Gifts & Seasonal, Politics & Philosophy, Local Interest, History & Biography, Jewish Diaspora,