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What's On, Culture, Literature

Rob Beckett

An Exclusive Extract From His New Book: A Class Act


Before we kick off this journey of self-discovery, I think it’s only fair that I quickly prove my working-class creden-tials. I know what you are thinking: Is he the real deal or is he secretly a middle-class bloke pretending to be working class in order to have a career in comedy? No, of course not. That’s Lee Nelson’s schtick.

So who am I? I grew up in South East London and my dad was a van driver, then an oil-tanker driver and he finished off his career as a London black-cab driver. How blue do you want my old man’s collar? My mum stayed at home to look after the kids, and when we were older got part-time work in a shop and then worked at a college in the library. I started work at 14 on Columbia Road flower market and did a series of low-paid jobs before I became a comedian. These included bar man, waiter, office temp, cricket stew- ard, shelf stacker and car-boot sale entrepreneur.

I gave up on boot sales when I watched my mum sell a bag full of my Microstars football figures for about three quid. I have never forgiven her and occasionally, if I’m feeling a bit too happy, I will search for my old figures on eBay to see how much they are worth now to bring my mood down.

For my sixteenth birthday I had my party at Crayford dog-racing track, where I openly bet. There were a number of tables next to a window looking out over the track, where we ate and drank and bet on the dog racing. Imagine Ladies’ Day at Ascot done on a really low budget with no dress code. All my family were there: aunties, uncles and cousins. It wasn’t done in an ironic hipster way – we all loved it. Only looking back now does it seem an odd place to go for a sixteenth birthday party.

My family aren’t massive gamblers but will have the occasional bet on the football on a Saturday. When I was young we would all get an accumulator and watch the goals go in with Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports. That’s how we would spend our weekends. My wife had no idea what an accumulator was. The first time she ever went to a bookies was when we went to visit my parents on a Saturday. Around lunchtime we, as a family, all set off to place our bets. It was remarkable watching someone expe- rience a bookies for the first time. She was so confused by everything – the clientele, the betting procedure, the odds system – which is totally understandable. I have been placing bets for years but I still get a bit scared and over- whelmed when I hear someone put £100 on a computer horse race at 7/2. Other things that I have introduced to my wife include pie mash, fried chicken and pegging. Not all class related, but still educational.


Tue 4 Jan 2022

James Haskell

Unreconstructed Male

Former rugby union player, author, music producer, podcast personality and 2019 Jungle contestant, James Haskell is clearly a man with fingers in many pies. I got in touch to discuss his second book Ruck Me, I’ve Written Another Book, but couldn’t resist touching on a few clearly controversial topics… 

Thu 2 Dec 2021

100 Noes a Year to Build a Career

Reflecting on a Decade of The Mogford Prize   

It’s not just us here at Fyne Associates who are celebrating a special birthday; in 2022 Oxford’s esteemed and highly acclaimed literary competition – The Mogford Prize for Food and Drink Writing – will celebrate its 10th year. Originally founded by Jeremy Mogford, the entrepreneur and face behind the Oxford Collection, the competition has since opened opportunities for countless emerging writers across the globe.

Mon 1 Nov 2021

Tall Poppies and Fruity Business

In Conversation with Lime Cordiale

Brothers Oliver and Louis Leimbach – otherwise known as Lime Cordiale – caught up with us from their home in New South Wales, Australia ahead of their visit to Oxford’s O2 Academy in January.

Tokyo Rose 640x400
Mon 4 Oct 2021

‘Tokyo Rose’, originally a generic nickname given to female broadcasters accused of spreading Japanese propaganda to the Allied Forces during WWII, became synonymous with American-born Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino.