Moon Boots and Dinner Suits, by Jon Pertwee

Second paragraph of third chapter:

On leaving Miss Maxwell’s ‘Academy’, I followed [his brother] Michael to Aldro, a boarding school in Eastbourne. I was about seven and a half and not at all happy at the idea of being so far from home. There was a kind old master there called Mr Craft, who closely resembled Rudyard Kipling; well, he seemed old, but as I received Christmas cards from him for twenty years afterwards, he was probably only about thirty-five at the time. To me he represented kindness. Mr Hill, the Headmaster, on the other hand represented unkindness, for I was often to be caned by him. ‘Go and change into gym shorts and wait for me in the gymnasium,’ he would order. That wait was more terrible than the thrashing. Even at seven and a half, I could take the beating, but the waiting made me sick with apprehension.

First volume of Jon Pertwee’s autobiography, though he did not write much more apart from an out-of-print account of his time on Doctor Who. It’s an entertaining set of anecdotes about his early life, difficult relations with parents (he did not actually know that his father‘s friend was his biological mother), his wartime service in the navy (which takes up almost half of the book), his love of girls and cars. If I had been editing it, I might have taken out some of the exclamation marks.

Lots of names are dropped, many of them of showbiz figures now long forgotten, though a couple stood out; visiting his father’s friend A.A. Milne as a child, Milne’s son “was good enough to introduce me to his toy animal friends, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Kanga’s son Roo, and best of all, his teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh.” At the other end of the book, when he is assigned to Naval Intelligence, one of his office-mates is future prime minister James Callaghan. (Callaghan, who lost the 1979 election, is the most recent prime minister to have served in the armed forces and the only one to have been in the Navy.)

But Doctor Who fans like me won’t find much to chew on here. Pertwee did not really have hidden depths; what you saw was what you got, and that personality is on display in his book. You can get it here.