A brief account of Jeremy Clarkes formative years: Two O levels. Three convictions for smash and grab. Two for drunk driving. One for possession of amphetamine sulphate. General labouring and factory work. Attended charismatic Baptist church. Made girlfriend pregnant. Resigned from job as refuse collector, returned library books, sold house, went to the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire. Came back altered. Conscious decision to join bourgeoisie. Night classes, then three years at School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Reviewed book by the late, great Dr Brian Plummer on ferret husbandry for University College London student magazine. Taken on by legendary editor Dr Karl Miller as his latest great white hope. Book deal. Fifty grand advance. Spent advance. Failed to write book. What Jeremy did next: Became author of Low Life columns in the Spectator. Encouraged by small publisher to rehash old columns in book form. Currently: 53 years old, a grandfather. Unmarried. Coughing and sneezing in a remote cottage on Dartmoor, hoping for a large royalty cheque.

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