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Where Did It All Go Right?: Growing Up Normal in the 70s
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Where Did It All Go Right?: Growing Up Normal in the 70s

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  579 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
Andrew Collins was born 37 years ago in Northampton. His parents never split up, in fact they rarely exchanged a cross word. No-one abused him. Nobody died. He got on well with his brother and sister and none of his friends drowned in a canal. He has never stayed overnight in a hospital and has no emotional scars from his upbringing, except a slight lingering resentment th ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 4th 2004 by Ebury Press (first published 2003)
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Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
I read this because neil h. reviewed it on his blog some years ago, describing it as the antidote to the popular memoirs of miserable childhoods a la Dave Peltzer. Neil pointed me to the audiobook version and I'm a little sorry I didn't get that because I would have enjoyed the author's voice. His British accent is much better and more authentic than the one in my head. But the book was a very entertaining and surprisingly nostalgic read. We grew up at the same time, in the late sixties and all ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it liked it
I think my biggest take away from this nostalgia fest is that many of the modern anxieties we have about food, exercise, safety and children didn't exist back in the 70s and 80s. Kids ate bacon and eggs for breakfast, sausages for lunch, potato chip sandwiches for dinner and filled the gaps in between with additive enriched sweets and snacks. There were no helicopter parents organizing every moment of a child's life, from carefully calibrated diet to an education road map. And yet, in spite of t ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Really liked idea if this book. As around same age early stuff really nostalgic. Then he answered question he asked at start Why most books on childhood about bad experiences. The answer is normal is boring. This would score really low if I were 10 years older or younger
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2006, biography
Where Did It All Go Right? - Growing up normal in the 70s. Andrew Collins' memoirs of his normal nontraumatic childhood and teenage years in Northampton, smallish East Midlands town. An answer to all the McCourts, Pelzers and co. with their miserable childhoods.

And normal certainly doesn't mean boring. Before I started reading the book just thinking about it made me smile/laugh. Collins writes in a very funny/entertaining way, and I enjoyed every page of the book. My 70s were the (glorious) 90s
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
I didn't grow up in the 70's but that didn't stop me enjoying this book. It had a lot of laugh out loud moments. And kids in the 70's did have some things in commen with kids in the 90's. Well me and my sisters at least. Like my nan knitting clothes for my Barbie dolls (Andrews nan did it for action men), making bases, climbing trees, the fear of getting dog muck on your shoes. Mainly all the outside stuff. Major differences would be Andrews getting less Christmas presents and instead of him ge ...more
Anthony Fisher
Mar 14, 2011 rated it did not like it
I read the reviews before purchasing this book and was impressed. However, I have struggled to read it. Basically, I found it quite dull and disjointed. There are too many footnotes and it was not easy (to be fair, probably due to the small print of the book) to see the notations. This spoilt the flow of the book, with me constantly trying to link the footnote to the notation. Generally I think it wrong to use so many footnotes and in this case I feel the author could have simply added the conte ...more
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm close to Andrew Collins age, if slightly behind him in years, and so could relate in many ways to this book.

I was raised in an even more provincial town, with no opportunities for convenient travel to cities or even large towns.

He put the trials and tribulations down on paper so well: it evoked many strong memories for me.

This may not grab you if you are from a different generation, but it does express beautifully the adolescent angst that boys go through.

I'm going to get my son to read it
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone born in 1965
Shelves: bookcrossing
As someone a mere few months younger than the author who also had to go to Solihull to fall over on ice this was a real nostalgia fest. While there were some fairly substantial differences in our personal circumstances, not least that of gender, this book evoked the culture and feel of a childhood and adolescence that I'd remembered with different (although no less happy) emphases and so was continually reminding me of things I'd not quite forgotten: food, television programmes, music, a child's ...more
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Amusing autobiography, supplemented by diary entries, of a lower? middle class boy (born 1965) growing up normal in Northampton, where/when nothing very extraordinary happened. Good, but publishing a second volume (Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now) is probably milking the idea too much.

It's interesting to compare this with two other memoir-ish books by relatively normal male Brits of the same generation:

David Mitchell's Black Swan Green
best of the three, Nigel Slater's Toast
Juliana Graham
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Even though I'm a bit younger than Andrew and really grew up in the 80s rather than the 70s, I was still able to find quite a few familiar references in this book which I found quite amusing. I liked the fact that Andrew kept a diary from such a young age and so had a good basis to start from in his autobiography and I think he's captured the drama of life as a child or teenager quite well. I'll probably read Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now at some point as I think I'll be able to relate to that ...more
May 02, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People who were once children
I absolutely bloody loved this book but I do have something of a weakness for male authors writing about their provincial upbringings. I particularly liked the premise that that not all books about growing up need to be 'Angela's Ashes'.It was also a relief that Andrew Collins' speaking voice did not echo in my ears as I read.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
As a fan of Collins and Maconie and having enjoyed Maconie's "Cider with Roadies", I looked forward to this book. Sadly, it is quite dull and repetitive. To be fair, this is flagged up by Collins' repeated admission that nothing really bad happened to him. He's not lying.

The other reason this is weak is that Collins' has split his story into three volumes. Something which is done a lot in both the Victorian eras and now with e-books, but which seems a little mercenary in a book from the early n
May 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
didn't like the format... diary entries, mixed with stories
Samantha Pattison
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyable read for anyone who grew up in the 70s
Too many footnotes for me and not my usual genre ie the end of the chapter didn't leave me wanting more and I often struggled to get into the book but when I did I found myself chuckling away. Kept a diary myself so know exactly what it's like trying to fill a page when you've had a boring day ....
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Children of the 70s.
Nowadays Andrew Collins is a journalist who writes about films and music, but when he was growing up he wanted to be an artist. One of the vehicles for his artistic aspirations was a diary that he kept from the age of 6 to 20.

This book is a memoir of a child growing up in a middle class family in the East Midlands, the eldest of three children. It sets out very deliberately to be an antidote to the 'Misery Memoirs' which have been inexplicably popular in the past. The back cover misquotes the Ph
Tim Worthington
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As you'll no doubt be aware if you've ever seen any clip show ever, Andrew Collins has a phenomenal recall of the 'seventies'. Not just for details like fads and theme songs, but the surrounding ambience - the sights, sounds and sometimes even smells that swirled around street parties, seaside jaunts and rainy Bank Holiday visits to MFI. It's hardly surprising that he had the mental capacity to take all of this in as, well, nothing much remarkable happened to him. Until a fox stole him through a ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book at the beginning, as I also grew up in Northampton in the 70’s and it brought back many lovely memories, of places and products which I had completely forgotten about. Funny how we all had a field that we used to play in and how we could stay out all day without any one worrying about us! At the time Northampton was a sleepy, shoe making town where nothing much happened it suddenly became designated as an overflow town for a growing London population and all our fields and pl ...more
Nick Davies
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
This book makes a lot of its ordinariness, its lack of pretention, its lack of 'obvious' drama (a slightly uncomfortable contrast with the likes of Dave Pelzer's 'A Child Called It' is made early on, unnecessarily) and at times it does read a little too comfortably and banal, but I enjoyed it.

This autobiography of journalist and broadcaster Andrew Collins's first nineteen years was warm and amusing, with plenty that would resonate with numerous British kids growing up in the 1970s (and even the
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2016
Re-reading this has taken me down that nostalgia trip again.
As interesting premise for a book: write about your non-eventful life and type out a few of your childhood diary entries.
Andrew Colin's is a few years older than me, but I could relate to this very easily. I too grew up in a small town, with parents who didn't abuse me, or get divorced, and I coasted through academia.
I'm not sure how exciting or relevant people who don't have this background will find the book. It could act as a social
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love this book and have read it a few times since it first came out in 2003. It's one I save for times when I need a lot of cheering up and it never fails to do the trick.

I'm a couple of years older than Andrew Collins, but all the references to life in the 1970s really take me back to my own childhood - pop-a-point pencils anyone?

What strikes me most when reading it now is the freedom we had as kids in the 70s, you could be out all day during the summer holidays, but as long as you were home
Barbara VA
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-read
Well when I saw this book for the first time I thought that it would be right for me, I think of myself as having grown up in the 70's but I guess I really am more of a 60's girl. Andrew starts then years after me and in England. I really enjoyed the writing even though there was so much I could not relate to! I should have read this a few months from now at my friend's house in Portishead, to translate so much. I cannot believe how all of his diaries survived as well as drawings to set down his ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
Incredibly slight memoir about what it was to grow up in the Seventies in a warm and loving environment, where you sat with your folks and happily watched "Ask the Family" together and you played in a field with your mates after school. The author states he was motivated to write this as a backlash against the angst and abuse riddled autobiographies of Dave Peltzer and his ilk, which is to be applauded, but I was somewhat disappointed that a "normal" upbringing was portrayed as mind-numbingly no ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm 3 years older than Andrew Collins and also grew up in a provincial town so have a very similar background. This made the book a real nostalgia trip for me with the toys I grew up with, the films I watched at the cinema, the tv programmes, the music and most of all the Action Men (see my avatar). Not much of a read if you're not of a certain age though as the references will be meaningless. I however really enjoyed it.
Jul 29, 2011 added it
Shelves: biography
I was told this book was exteremely funny, a witty look at a "normal" upbringing.

I read the book because I listen to the Collings and Herrin podcast. In fact, I bought all three books in the series. Sadly, this just came across as very dull. The diary extracts went on for too long, and nothing really happened.

I will read the other two - I expect that the next one will be much more interesting. I bloody hope so, anyway!
Jul 30, 2011 added it
Other people's diary accounts are never really as interesting as they are to the writer; unless they happen to have had an extraordinary life. The case is definitely true for Mr. Collins.

It was an interesting read in some ways as it prompted lots of memories and discussion about food eaten during the decade. However, I can completely understand other readers who found the book tedious and dull.
Natasha (Diarist) Holme
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Children of the 1970s
Shelves: memoir
A likeable book, though I sometimes wanted to like it more than I did. It could have been juicier ... but that was the point. As a record of an uneventful childhood, this is clever.

Had Andrew Collins grown up a few years later, had all the diary entry references to bikes and sweets and music been references to my own childhood backdrop, I would be in love with this book.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-finished
I liked the idea behind this book: instead of writing about a terrible childhood, like most autobiographies, the author writes about how good, or at least normal, his childhood has been. Unfortunately, this also makes for a very boring book... I guess this book shows why autobiographies about terrible childhoods are so succesful...
Jun 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Started this book while on holiday - it's a book hubby he has been attempting to read for about a year. Mainly because is it about the area near where we live and about a time we remember. It was great reading about things that we also did as children (although the author is a little older than me!) The diary extracts are fun - all round a pleasent read!
Jun 22, 2012 rated it liked it
It's my childhood - growing up in London, England in the 70s - amusingly retold. The era when kids spent all their time in the school holidays out on their bikes and just turned up back at home around tea time. Such a shame that modern kids don't have those freedoms. Magical times. Well worth reading. Like a 'Cider with Rosie' for the seventies generation.
A pleasant and charming, if unremarkable, memoir. I vaguely recognised the guy from his appearances as a talking head on those Jimmy Carr-fronted nostalgia programmes - that figures. Not entirely sure how he got a book deal for this, though.

Gastronomically obsessed as I am, however, I enjoyed the food-related passages. That also figures.
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