Midway through his acceptance speech at the 1998 Tony Awards, cabaret star Alan Cumming pauses and appears to wonder who else he needs to thank. He quickly gathers his thoughts before acknowledging his mum and brother.
Cumming doesn't thank his dad, the subject of his first memoir, Not My Father's Son. Anyone who's read the book will know why. If you haven't, let's just say the father was a sadistic bastard prone to punishing his son by shaving his head with a rusty pair of shears - the kind typically reserved for sheep.
Eight years on from the publication of that collection of disturbing tales, the actor and activist is back with another autobiography. Fortunately, there's a little more levity in Baggage: Tales From a Fully Packed Life.
There's the time Cumming and Dame Judi Dench were caught on camera mocking royal protocol at the London premier of Goldeneye. The pair were attempting to bow from the neck back, as opposed to the neck forward manoeuvre Cumming had been comprehensively briefed on.
There's also plenty of sex, drugs and, if not rock 'n' roll, then disco, pop and showtunes. On the matter of amore, Cumming recalls a funny episode in Rome where, on the walk back to the hotel after a long day of shooting, a lusty male member of the Italian crew announces, apropos of nothing, that he won't be able to make love to the film's star that evening.
Of course, a book titled Baggage is going to have its darker moments and there are several here. The violent father even rates a mention, albeit a mercifully brief one.
"As we drove away from the scene of our father's crimes, I felt something unusual and new in relation to him: superiority," writes the actor.
"For all his machismo and swagger and intimidation, he was at his core a coward, deeply afraid of danger, pain, and, especially, honesty."
What the actor does devote considerable time to is the change that took place after he ended his first marriage and severed ties with his dad. After flying back to London, Cumming threw himself into a heady romance, and a handful of Hollywood projects.
In the end, the romance didn't survive, but they both discovered a lot about themselves and are still great mates. Which is sort of the central theme of this book.
Driving around LA one night in the days before Siri and sat nav, Cumming gets himself spectacularly lost before somehow making his way home. "If I could find my way back to the Studio City Sheraton, I could find my way back to myself."
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