Well, blow me down.
“I’m not too fond of ‘how-to’ books, JT.”
“But you’ll like this one.” JT obviously knows I’m a pushover, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that I’m a know-it-all and therefore don’t need to be told how to perform brain surgery on a mouse or how to make a necklace out of dog’s hair, it’s just that I only wish to know ‘how to’ to do something relevant to my own circumstances, and the last time I looked in the mirror, my bottom was fine and dandy and still there.
Ok, joking aside, this was really a very enjoyable read. ‘Enjoyable’ may seem a misnomer when someone has suffered from homelessness, near death and impecuniosity, but JT is like a bouncing ball, a boomerang—he has an incredibly optimistic, half-full-glass attitude to life, and despite his ups and quite a lot of undesirable downs, he emerges positive and down-to-earth. His experiences have taught him about perspective: for example, ‘things’ can be replaced, memories can’t—don’t hold on to the toaster or sofa, you can buy another as and when, but keep that little memento of someone special. Like and love yourself: if you don’t, you can’t expect anyone else to respect you.
As the title suggests, JT maps out a twenty-point advisory guide to help you keep your head above water when life turns around and smacks you in the face rather rudely. But I found his counsel more of a guide to life, full stop. His outlook is always bright, life is short and it’s no rehearsal. Have fun, make sure you have a story to tell, get out more and do things for yourself: if you don’t, what use will you be to anyone else? You see, “What’s the first thing they tell you to do on a passenger plane in the event the cabin should lose pressure? Secure your own oxygen mask first before you help your neighbor. If this sounds greedy or self-centered then good, learn to embrace these thoughts. If you’re no good for yourself, then you’re probably no good for anyone else.”
Whether or not you approve of JT’s solutions to his predicaments (quite a lot of booze and women are involved!), there is absolutely no doubt that his philosophies and strategies work. He’s upbeat, positive, compassionate, genial and just the sort of person you’d want to have sitting next to you on a barstool when you’re supping a beer, drowning one sorrow or twenty.
JT has a delightful turn of phrase: he’s witty, he’s funny, practical, and sensible. Any other how-to guide I read will have to be written by him.