AA Gill (4 stars)

Previous Convictions (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)


Enthusiastic wildlife-slayer, owner of a canary yellow Bentley, close friend of Jeremy Clarkson: AA Gill is enough to give the more mung bean-minded a coronary. Indeed, after a foreword encomium to criticism, he begins Previous Convictions with a broadside against hippies, Glastonbury and ‘spiritual bollocks’. What sets Gill apart from the other upper middle-class politically incorrect pontificators is that he’s interested in people (even if he doesn’t always like them) and writes in a clear, economical, puissant style.

Divided into Here - home-based essays on family, art, theatre, natural history and wildlife - and There - travel dispatches straddling the globe - the book culminates in its two funniest episodes. Odd couple Clarkson and Gill (the petrolhead motormouth chino-man and the cultured aesthete ‘hetero-gay’) visit homo mecca Mykonos and pot’n’prozzy capital Amsterdam. In between, Gill discovers a new species of beetle, chats to Henri Cartier-Bresson, plunges down a goldmine and suppresses his laughter in Greenland.

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