The great escapist

<strong>Bit of a Blur</strong>
Alex James <em>Little, Brown, 274pp, £16.99</em>

Alex James, the former bassist of Blur and self-proclaimed “number-one slag in the Groucho Club”, could hardly be accused of having had a dull life. His picaresque autobiography describes, with some wit and verve, an existence that has encompassed both chemical and natural highs and lows. Some of the strongest writing is to be found towards the end of the book, when he eschews the name-dropping and jokes in favour of a moving account of the premature birth of his twins.

James always came across as the most likeable member of Blur. Here, he recounts the rock debauchery he was party to throughout the 1990s with a raised eyebrow, whether it be celebrating his 29th birthday with a champagne-fuelled orgy or, almost by accident, becoming part of the “supergroup” Fat Les, whose single “Vindaloo” outsold any Blur record.

There are one-liners to treasure on virtually every page. Taking a cue from Oscar Wilde, he languidly announces: “To keep finding new ecstasies and not get stuck in old routines takes all of a man’s might and all the world’s serendipity.” James’s memoir ends happily, in domestic bliss – yet, with the imminent return of a re-formed Blur, a possible sequel seems an enticing prospect.

This article first appeared in the 25 June 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Israel, Gaza and a summer of war?