Soft Lad (Nick Grimshaw memoir) review: The first non-fiction book I've ever LOVED
*No spoilers (as such) in this*
Normally I'm fiction all the way when it comes to reading. I love consuming daily news, obviously due to my job, but to swtich off I always go for fiction. I'm not really bothered about autobiographies because there's not really any celebrities I'm obsessed with so I just get bored after a while. I've managed a couple in the past, but they were a struggle at times.
However, when I saw that Nick Grimshaw was bringing out 'a collection of stories' about himself, I was intrigued. I don't know why because although I loved him on the radio, and grew up listening to him for years, I wouldn't say he's someone I follow avidly on socials. Something in me wanted to dip my toe back into non-fiction though, and this seemed like a good place to start.
I cannot emphasise enough how much I loved this book. (Also his jumper and ring on the front cover - I need them in my life.)
He says in the opening: "Soft Lad is not my autobiography. Soft Lad isn't chronological like a traditional memoir. I wanted to write something that had snapshots of the formative moments of my life up to now."
He covers the topic I was hoping to hear about, getting into Radio 1, but there's so much more to this that I wasn't expecting to love as much as I did. He's from Oldham and was a bit of an accident, meaning that he essentially grew up like an only child with siblings who were much older. Not only this, he grew up insecure about how he looked, and eventually realised he was gay. Although I can't relate to any of this (other than growing up in the north) there was something so familiar about what he was writing. It was such a comfortable read, and so authentic - I could hear him in the words when I was reading along. Maybe it's because I've listened to him on Radio 1 since I was at school, but it felt more like a series of conversations with a friend in a pub rather than a formal memoir.
He says a lot that does resonate with me too, specifically the relationship he had with radio growing up. I remember having it on in my room constantly as background noise because when you're too young to go off on your own and have to stay at home, it's like having another friend. This makes me sound like such a loner, I will stress I grew up in a very busy household with two brothers and I loved that, but sometimes I needed to just be in my room and that's when the radio was on.
It was with me in the morning before school, in the car (until my parents grew into Radio 2), and on Sunday afternoons when I was doing my homework when Fearne Cotton and Reggi Yates presented the chart show. He even says how Sunday night radio made the dread of school a little bit better, and refered specifically to hearing the Heartbeat theme tune and suddenly dread the week ahead - I had that EXACT feeling. It was always Heartbeat that made me feel down that it was the end of the weekend and I still get that feeling today sometimes, although Heartbeat is long gone sadly.
I remember one morning I texted in to the show and one of Grimmy's producers called me back and out of sheer panic I hung up. Up to that point Radio 1 had always seemed like a faraway land to me that I got to listen in on, but to actually get a call from them was too much for me at that age.
Since then I've had some shout outs here and there, I work with the radio on in the office, and have it on as I'm pottering round at home - it's fair to say I'm Radio 1 through and through.
The other part to this I loved was hearing about his move down to London, and the crazy life he lived. The people he's friends with and the situations he got into don't come across as braggy or like he's name-dropping, instead it reads in such a way that it's like you're watching this young guy find his feet in a new city at a time when there was a lot less judgement and things weren't so polished. Meeting Amy Winehouse before she got big, ending up at a Madonna party with his parents, and getting life advice off Kate Moss while she eats bread and butter - it's insane what he's done but yet he makes it seem normal, and reminded me that celebrities are just people too and he approached all these situations with that attitude. Grimmy is actually very 'in there' with the biggest celebrities in the world, you only have to look at the photos in the book to see that (love a photo section in a book btw), but yet when you're reading his words, he doesn't come across like a knobby celeb at all. He is still the boy from Oldham that grew up wanting to be on the radio.
It's not all parties and celebs though, he does let you hear about his lower times and personal losses. I very rarely cry over a book, but when he talks about losing his dad, I was a mess. He also talks about when the partying got too much, and a scary encounter with weed. All these things combined make it a brilliant read.
Overall I'd say I found this so motivating. Reading about how he found his way in the media industry has made me excited for what I have to come in my career. Right now I've just got my exams back making me a senior journalist so the world is my oyster and who knows what's I've got ahead of me. If I'm even slightly as successful as Grimmy, I'll be chuffed.