I hadn’t actually heard of Georgia Pritchett but I was intrigued by the title and subtitle (I’ve had my own adventures in anxiety over the years and I think there’s been a rise in it during the pandemic: this is a life that’s been full of it since she could think), and realised as I read it that of course I’ve heard and laughed at many of her words before, as she’s had a decades-long career as a comedy writer.

Georgia Pritchett – “My Mess is a Bit of a Life: Adventures in Anxiety”

(06 April 2021)

One way of knowing you have crossed from girlhood to womanhood is that men stop furtively masturbating at you from bushes and start shouting things at you from cars. It’s a beautiful moment.

That’s a paragraph typical of this book: open, honest, funny, but with a punch of reality. We open the book with Pritchett sitting in a therapist’s office, unable to open her mouth to explain what’s wrong as a whole host of what she describes as moths, an alien, Godzilla (stamping all over her inner Tokyo) and a “Dark Overlord Beaver” are all fighting for space and supremacy inside her head. The therapist says “Why don’t you try writing it down” and then we have the book, returning to this scene at the end.

We’re then thrown into a headlong rush of memories and anxieties, arranged to work their way through her life from the time she can think to the time she’s writing in the book, mainly short one or few-paragraph pieces with a heading and the odd sketch of a Dark Overlord Beaver, etc. It’s quite disjointed, but you just sort of go with the flow, important comedy folk pop up as she finds her feet later on and she’s great on what it’s like being the only woman in the writing room. There’s lots of dark stuff, so dark humour, as she contends with her precarious mental state, her marriage and her children, who have issues to contend with of their own. She also weaves in contemporary events, usually adding to her anxiety.

Because of the structure, I immediately thought, “What’s this, I can’t deal with this,” but then got drawn in to “just one more bit, just one more bit” and then the book was over in a couple of hours. So it’s obviously an engaging, funny, self-deprecating read, and it shows what a jumble of anxieties can live in just about anybody’s head. There are tender moments and the odd gross one, it’s unusual, but it works.

Thank you Faber & Faber for choosing me to read this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

One Book Serendipity with this one for Bookish Beck: you’d expect to find the 1981 New Cross Fire in David Olusoga’s “Black and British” but perhaps not also in a book about a white woman and her anxious life. But she’s in South London and there it it. Good to see it remembered and memorialised.