Book Review of Alan Davies' Just Ignore Him
Alan Davies’ autobiography Just Ignore Him, focuses largely on his childhood and the trauma surrounding it. Davies’ mother, of whom Davies speaks fondly, died of leukaemia when he was six years old. Davies and his brother and sister were then brought up by their father.
Davies recounts in Just Ignore Him how he was made to feel that everything that ever went wrong within the family was his fault. He describes how his brother and sister were encouraged to ignore him when he was deemed as being irritating. Davies is clearly bitter and upset about many of his childhood experiences. The reader learns that his poor relationship with his father is far more than simple disagreements or personality clashes. It is revealed that Davies was sexually abused by his father up until the age of 13.
It is the abuse that Davies receives that dominates the whole of the book. In his forties Davies step-mother gives him photographs that his father had hidden of teenage boys who look like him and he consequently makes the decision to report his father to the police as an abuser. Due to Davies’ father’s age and diminished mental capacity he hasn’t, to date, been taken to trial.
Davies Just Ignore Him is not what a reader might expect from a showbiz autobiography. This is not least because it is so well written. At times there is an unexpected softness and tenderness to the text, especially when Davies is talking about his mother and describing what it is like when growing up in the 70s.
Davies completed some of the text as part of a creative writing course focusing on memoir writing. His intelligence, wit and honesty serves as a super backbone to the text making it a book that is well worth reading.
Book Discussion Questions on Alan Davies' Just Ignore Him
What aspects of this biography, Just Ignore Him surprised you?
Being ignored by his siblings and father is presented as a frequent act of cruelty in the book. Discuss.
Davies comments in the book how he couldn’t possibly imagine hurting his own children like he has been hurt himself. Other than this his own children are seldom mentioned in Just Ignore Him. Do you think the focus of Just Ignore Him is too narrow?
Discuss the ways in which the abuse Davies suffered affected him emotionally.
How, if at all, has your view and opinion of Alan Davies changed now you have read Just Ignore Him.
During Alan Davies teenage years he frequently stole things for himself and for his friends. He even got caught. Why did Alan choose to steal? What does he reveal about himself in his recounting of these episodes?
When Alan Davies was caught stealing and reprimanded by the police his father was determined that his brother should be told. What was his father’s motivation for this?
Alan Davies presents his relationshp with his mother as being perfect. Discuss.
What can be gleaned about the relationship between Alan Davies’ mother and father and consequent relationship between Davies’ stepmother and father?
How much sympathy do you have for the case against Alan Davies’ father never going to court?
Do you respect Alan Davies for writing Just Ignore Him? Why or why not?
Bookclub Questions on Just Ignore Him (if you haven't read the book!)
Chat about any other showbiz biographies that you've read. Which titles do you recommend and why?
Whilst child abuse is more openly discussed than it used to be, it is seldom male victims who tell their story. Why do you think this is the case?
How do you think a biography that told the story of a comedian's abuse would have been received ten or fifteen years ago compared to now?
Alan Davies has been on the panel for QI for many years now. Have you watched it? Chat about the programme together.
Alan Davies's hardly mentions his showbiz career in his biography, but instead focuses almost entirely on his childhood trauma. Do you think it is possible to ever really escape your childhood experiences, whatever they might be?
Personal Response to Just Ignore Him
Throughout Just Ignore Him the hurt and anger that Davies clearly feels towards his father is never far from the surface. The writing has a rawness and urgency that pulls the reader in. Davies wears his heart on his sleeve and has shared his story with honesty and openness. It seems that in interviews promoting his book he has been unwilling to discuss the sexual abuse that he writes about. This strikes me as interesting, though not really surprising.
Just Ignore Him is a brave book as Alan Davies will, at least for some time, be now known as the comedian whose father abused him. It will, I hope help other people in similar situations speak out and confront abuse that they have suffered.