Windswept & Interesting – Billy Connolly

I grew up watching Billy, first on VHS and then on DVD. I laughed along before I was even old enough to understand what was so funny. I was in the audience for three of his concerts, one of which was during his final tour of Australia. I met him twice and have the photos to prove it, including the one where my camera unexpectedly decided it needed a flash. Billy’s surprised expression is just as awesome as you’d expect. I even managed to get some Billy autographs and a Billy hug.

I’ve laughed so much my body has gotten confused and morphed into ugly crying. I’ve learned to be wary of beige people and to appreciate the freedom of naked dancing (vicariously, not personally). I’ve identified as windswept and interesting for as long as I can remember.

Of course I was going to read this book, and preorder a signed copy. 

It was just as wonderful as I’d hoped. You can hear Billy in your head as you read his story. I’m going to hear him in my head for real when I listen to the audiobook version. Naturally I needed a copy in every format I could find but the audiobook is going to be an absolute treat; I can’t wait to hear his laughter.

You’ll learn “wee interesting things” about Billy here, some you’ll already know as if it’s your own autobiography, but you won’t care because it’s Billy. The new things may build on things you already knew; they’ll give you an even greater appreciation of the man he is and the things he’s overcome in order to delight you with his worldview.

I highlighted too many quotes to share with you here but I need you to read some of them.

On fashion: 

I once wore a pair of black patent brogues with furry black and white spotted panels on a plane. A flight attendant said, ‘I like your shoes.’ I said, ‘Thanks – I had them made abroad. The shoemaker had a big box of Dalmatian puppies, and you could pick your own …’ It was the only time in my life I was smacked by a flight crew member. 

On weight: 

I can’t control my weight and eat the things I like, so I eat the things I like.

On libraries: 

Everything I’ve achieved in my life has been because of the library. 

On Australian wildlife: 

I’m warning you. Australia is a dangerous place! Australians must be the bravest buggers on the face of the earth. Imminent danger every fucking day. 

On snorkelling: 

I was a bit nervous because I’d just seen Jaws for the first time – you know that movie about a shark that plays the cello? It put me off being in the sea. Every time I put my head underwater, I heard, ’dun dun dun dun dun dun dun dun …’

On scuba diving: 

My favourite underwater trick is to get my buoyancy bang on and stand still vertically. Just stand there looking bored when people swim past. Nod to them as if you’re waiting at a bus stop. Look at your watch. You get the most extraordinary looks from people. 

This is the Billy you already know and love, but in book form. If anything, it made me love him more. 

‘I’m William F. B. Connolly the Third. Here’s some parting advice for you: “Lie on your back and you won’t squash your nose.”’

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart. 

As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings … and writing.

Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.