'Next, I applied to work in the accounts department, a sealed room where women operated clattering machines like enormous typewriters. After I had catastrophically and erroneously applied all the wrong information to several trolley loads of documents and lumbered the staff with weeks of corrective work, I was shown the door by a tight-lipped manageress. I knew what was coming. Over the relentless, furious din of machinery, I lip-read the familiar words: 'Lacks the necessary aptitude.''
Pam Ayres' early childhood in Stanford in the Vale was idyllic in many ways, and typical of that experienced by a great swathe of children born in rural areas in the immediate post-war years. Though her parents' generation was harrowed by war, better times were coming. Everything the family needed was within walking distance in the village, and life with four older brothers and a sister in their crowded council house was exceedingly lively.
In her late teens, Pam grew dissatisfied with her life as a Civil Service clerk with only the local 'hop' for scintillating excitement. Having seen three of her brothers called up for National Service and sent off to exciting destinations, Pam felt desperate for travel and adventure. She joined the WRAF and soon found herself in the Far East. There she began to write in earnest, and develop the unique talent that would make her one of Britain's favourite comics...
Written with Pam's much-loved combination of humour and poignancy, The Necessary Aptitude is a beautifully written memoir of her early years.
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Ayres gives a wonderful account of what it was like to grow up poor but respectable in post-war rural England. Some of her writing in the early chapters, describing life as the youngest of six children in a council cottage in the Vale of White Horse, Berkshire, has the original freshness of classics such as Flora Thompson's Lark Rise to Candleford - Mail on Sunday
I find her work sweet and sour, gentle and sad, and often very moving in its wistful way ... The descriptions of post-war Berkshire life in The Necessary Aptitude are wonderful ... The world Ayres evokes is Hardy's Wessex ... I do admire (and envy) this marvellous woman - Daily Mail
Excellent ... Unsentimental, especially about herself, Ayres gives a surprisingly moving account of what it was like to grow up poor in rural England without any 'aptitude' for making something of herself - Christmas Guide to a Cracking Read, Mail on Sunday
Highly readable ... Pam's memoirs are a masterclass in effective and effervescent prose - The Lady
An evocation of long-gone village life as captivating as Thompson’s Lark Rise to Candleford. At the book’s height, she reaches up and touches Laurie Lee - Buckinghamshire Life
As funny and benevolent a memoir as you’d expect from one of Britain’s finest comic - Good Book Guide
It’s all so well written, so funny and so touching - Readers' Digest
Charming - Choice
By this author
About the Author
Pam Ayres has been a writer, broadcaster and entertainer for over 35 years since winning the talent show Opportunity Knocks in 1975, and she has become an audience favourite for her sharp perception of the comic detail of everyday life. Pam is the author of several bestselling poetry collections, including With These Hands, Surgically Enhanced and The Works. Many of her poems are in school textbooks in countries including China, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, South Africa, Ireland and Singapore. Pam's books, record albums, CDs and DVDs have sold many millions, and she is a regular guest on radio programmes such as Just A Minute, Loose Ends and Saturday Live. Her own programme Ayres on the Air will be entering its fourth series in 2012. Pam performs her solo stage show annually to sell-out audiences throughout Britain and around the world. In 2004 she was awarded the MBE.