The Life of Michael (not Brian) by Milo, aged 11 3/4s

10 May

When Milo met Michael

First thing I have to say about this man is… he is quite possibly the funniest and ‘niciest’ person I have ever met. And oh yes I have met him, and got to perform some of his poem Chocolate Cake to him which was a real honour.

So his performance was great and he made it very engaging. It is guaranteed that when you listen to Michael you will have hiccups from laughing so much.

His performance was about his memoirs. But even the titles of his books have back stories and the story behind this one is that he wanted to call his book an autobiography but the publishers wanted it to be called a memoir so there was an epic battle and the publishers won so it is now called the silly French-sounding word ‘memoir.’Also Michael’s book is not called Michael’s Memoirs but called So They Call You Pisher which is Yiddish for ‘nobody’. His mum and dad would tell him “what’s the worst that can happen? So they call you pisher.”

His family was so left wing that it might have fallen of the wing itself and his family were also communists as well as being Jews. So obviously poor Michael had to call his dad Harold, which is, drum roll please… his real name!

Now anyway, the first thing we heard from his memoirs was about corned beef. His family had tonnes of it. But while they had all this corned beef there was an outbreak of typhoid and when his mum went to the cupboard to get out a tin, one of the millions, of corned beef and looked at it she said “well we better wait till the typhoid outbreaks are over before we can have this one!”

And I just thought this was hilarious and so did the rest of the audience and after that I instantly knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy this and I did.

When Michael was young he lived in Pinner and his dad was at war with the place. Whenever he would walk into town he would point at a house and say, ahem, “LOOK, LOOK, LOOOOOK! Phoney baroney.” And at this time Michael would be thinking ‘?’ But later on in life he decided to ask his dad what that meant and his dad would reply with phoney baroney’s houses with phoney barons in them.

Another section from his memoirs was how his mum met his dad which is a beautiful heartwarming story. His mum once went to a communist party tennis tournament , as you do, and his mum saw a man with big auburn hair.

At that very moment his mum instantly knew he didn’t have a chance. What Michael’s mum meant by this is that this man didn’t get a say in any of it, they were going to marry and that was that. So obviously this will now be made into a love story better than La La Land called ‘he didn’t stand a chance.’

If you thought that was funny, they had their first date at the 1936 Cable Street demonstration against Oswald Mosley and his Black Shirts, and it turns out they were on the wrong side of the barricade.

We’ve heard about Michael’s mum and his dad, but what about his brother Brian? His brother was a genius and thought himself to be Michael’s third parent because he thought two just wasn’t enough. And being Michael’s third parent he decided it was his solemn duty to teach Michael everything he knew, which being four years older than him was a lot.

At the age of two Brian decided to teach Michael how to read. And you might think that was bad enough, but when Michael was eleven Brian got moved up a year and started teaching poor Michael, who was as bad at maths as he is as good at making poems, calculus. Yeah horrible.

Anyway nowadays you can find Brian (who is now a paleontologist) looking after fossils at the Natural History Museum. If you look at him and see his eyes are completely red, that’s because he hasn’t blinked in the last 50 years.

So that was what Michael Rosen had to say to us. And if you’re thinking, whoah, whoah, whoah ,whoah, whoah, whoah, whoah, WHOAH, you have said hardly anything about Michael Rosen himself, I’ll just say one thing: Michael was 72 this week! Yaaaaaay! Wooooooh! So yeah, that was what I thought of Michael Rosen’s performance.

Thank you for reading this incredibly long review (long in an eleven and 3/4s world) and if Michael Rosen is listening we give a great big Swindon Festival Of Literature thank you (I stole festival director Matt’s line) for coming to us.

Words by Milo Davison – a big fan of Michael Rosen and The Life of Brian!

Michael Rosen appeared at the Swindon Festival of Literature, at Swindon Arts Centre, 10 May 2018.

Main  image © Fernando Bagué

One Response to “The Life of Michael (not Brian) by Milo, aged 11 3/4s”


  1. Sunny children’s event features a flood story that predates Noah’s | Festival Chronicle - 14th May 2018

    […] isn’t like Michael Rosen’s brother, who is still looking at fossils without blinking – read my experience of Michael Rosen to find out more. No, he can read and decipher the oldest writing in existence. MIND […]

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