Jason Donovan had to have not one but two children born to him before he finally resolved to give up that which had become his first love, cocaine. I am fascinated by his recollection of becoming so degraded through this addiction he had to regularly clean both up and down the stairs, a phrase which could be metaphoric, literal or both. I also had to become resigned to never knowing, when Donovan describes himself as being like a dog chasing its own ‘tale’, he is being a faux-naif wit or a dickhead.
‘Dono’ (or as his friends called him, ‘Bongovan’) grew up a suburb away from me a few years later than me, and his autobiography Between the Lines is much more enjoyable than listening to him speak. Irritatingly, neither Donovan nor Steve Martin, whose book Born Standing Up is ten times better, seem to have the slightest handle on what it takes to make one famous – I suspect it’s luck – and in both cases, famousness descends on them like a landslide. Both gripe about the inability of their fans and the press to understand their wish for privacy and ‘downtime’; in their defence, it is plain that endless performances to thousands of people take talent and a toll. When I was in New York recently I picked up a three dollar copy of a Steve Martin album in which the audience response is carried upon waves of voices across a huge auditorium; it’s extraordinary to imagine this ‘stand-up’ performance in which every nuance is deadened and distorted by the ridiculous idea of one man standing in front of thousands of people projecting short skits they already know and them yelling in recognition.