Billy Connolly is regarded as something of a national treasure in Scotland and I’ve always enjoyed his storytelling style of comedy. I remember, much to everyone in the family’s amusement, that a couple of elderly great-aunts went to see him in the Edinburgh Playhouse probably in the 1980s. To nobody’s surprise, they soon walked out ‘disgusted’ by the strong language! I think Billy Connolly would have found that very funny.
In Windswept and Interesting, Billy Connolly’s distinctive voice comes through so clearly that you can almost hear him telling you his story in your head. In fact, I wish I’d had this in audiobook. Like his stage and TV shows he does tend to meander off at a tangent and this is great fun. One minute you are reading how he was taken in by his aunts after his mother left, the next you are reading about giant spiders and baby rhinoceros. As he says, “…some people think it’s a fault that I forget where I’m going and deviate to other subjects without warning, but I enjoy it immensely. It’s like the riding along on a wave. You don’t know where you’re going but your path is laden with gems and rose petals of funny stuff that makes people scream and clap.” There was certainly plenty in the book which made me laugh, often stories I’ve heard him tell on tv shows. I haven’t been lucky enough to see him live.
It’s not all funny though as we hear about some of the difficult times he had a young boy after his mother left and he was brought up by two of his aunts. At the hands of various members of his family he suffered both physical and emotional abuse. He lived in quite a poor area of Glasgow and doesn’t gloss over the hardship and poverty that he, and most families in the area, faced.
Windswept and Interesting is a funny, honest and moving memoir. I feel like I’ve been sitting with Billy Connolly as he was telling me his stories. There are so many hilarious anecdotes and plenty of name-dropping and it just seems like a genuine and joyful look back with appreciation at what has been a long and happy life.
About the book
In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.
Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.
Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart.
As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.
It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.
Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.
About the Author
Sir William Connolly, CBE is a much-loved Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is the recipient of a BAFTA Lifetime Achievement Award and is regularly voted the nation’s favourite stand-up comedian. Billy was born and raised in Glasgow and now lives in America. He announced his retirement from live performance in December 2018.