My Mess Is A Bit Of A Life: Adventures in Anxiety
Faber & Faber
Georgia Pritchett is a British screenwriter. If you haven’t heard the name, you have absolutely devoured some of her work. Maybe a whole lot of it. She has been part of writing teams for a whole bunch of British comedy legends – shows such as Spitting Image, The Lenny Henry Show, Smack The Pony and The Thick of It. Through her connection with Armando Iannucci (Thick of It) she went on to the writer’s room for Veep and Avenue 5 and is now involved in a currently-top-secret new project starring Julia Louis-Dreyfuss (that’s about all the info there is for now).
But on top of all that she’s written for Miranda, and once – hilariously – took a drive to a secret location to get out of a car and hand an envelope of jokes to comedy-hero Ronnie Corbett, in exchange for cold, hard cash.
She’s also got writing credits for the S Club 7 TV show, was called in to ‘fix’ up the Spice World movie and her other brand new/upcoming projects including Apple TV’s The Shrink Next Door (which looks brilliant, debuts next month) and she’s involved in a TV-series spinoff of the cult film, Galaxy Quest. Oh, she was also part of the writing team for that little show, Succession (season three is less than two weeks away!)
So it’s a daunting list of both high-brow and low-brow writing credits. Which I love. A gun for hire. A joke-writer extraordinaire. Take the money, do the work, make the jokes for the audience. No shame in being paid to do your work.
Some of these stories (the Ronnie Corbett one) and some yarns connected to these credits – but absolutely no boasting whatsoever – are in her book, My Mess Is a Bit of a Life. It’s less about her writing gigs and more about the anxiety she has dealt with; it’s a memoir in essay fragments. The chapters – if you want to call them that – are prose-poem length. Most of them barely make it down one whole page.
When quizzed on this recently, Pritchett pointed to her on-job training to get to the punchline, to write a ‘scene’ rather than a full story. And that’s what this book is comprised of…lots and lots of little scenes.
Through them all – chronological – we get the portrait of the shaping-events, the humour as armour and then as distraction as much as deflection. We get the coping and we’re on side to see her manage. And then – later in the book – we hear (subtly, self-effacingly) about some of the triumphs.
It’s a profoundly moving book in fact.
As Pritchett explains the thoughts that chased part of her around deep inside her head, she reveals more and more of herself, shows how humour was her ally – and then (thankfully) her job. And she lets us deep inside her life via slim, revealing paragraphs.
The indignity of infertility – the naming of the clinics, the shaming of it all – and the challenges of now raising two neurodiverse children. The working in a man’s world. Seeing a change, and yet never ever suggesting she was part of a vanguard for this. It is the least boastful, least ‘Hollywood’ screenwriter memoir you might ever read. And yet the sheer amount of runs on the board is staggering.
For more detail about the book – and her life and credits – you might like to also check out the very recent episode of the Adam Buxton podcast where she is Adam’s guest. I’m a fan of this show at any rate – but it was great to have this to go to as soon as the book stopped. You know that feeling when you just want to know more about the person, or just live in their world for a bit longer, or be near to their words still. Well, the podcast was a salve.