Jimmy White first had his autobiography written back in 1999 and the first things I always question when an individual decides to release a newer version of their life story, are ‘Has enough water passed under the bridge, will the new information be of any interest and is it worth me buying?’. The answer is – absolutely! Not having a go at Carl Froch (although it’s going to seem that way!), but releasing his latest autobiography, when the last one was released only three years earlier, was a little premature in my opinion. Yes he had some epic fights during that period, but he’s still fighting now and I’m sure he could have revised his offering in say five years time with a far healthier script.
Having read the 1999 edition of Jimmy’s autobiography, when reading the latest version, I not only enjoyed the top-of information from the last 15 years, but also how Jimmy’s life has evolved in that last decade and a half. His ghostwriter (Chris Brereton), not only seems to have done an excellent job of filling in the gaps of Jimmy’s early life, but seems to have done so with great fluidity, making you feel you are travelling next to Jimmy throughout the book. The south London accent seemed to spill off the page.
Having been born and bred a stone’s throw away from Fisher Snooker Club, Acton, I could visualise the crappy surroundings he mentioned back in the 1970’s/80’s, but could also understand the magnetic attraction of returning time and time again to play – which is something I did myself. However – if I would have had any talent whatsoever with a snooker cue, I would have lived in that snooker hall. White’s latest offering gives you such a warm and honest account of his life that you often stop and think, ‘What would I have done in his situation??’.
Jimmy White lived a rollercoaster life, which included a marathon of gambling, drinking and hovering cocaine (The Devil’s Dandruff as Jimmy refers to it) living in the fast lane at no less than 200mph (or 300mph, when Ronnie O’Sullivan was driving the car – read the book to find out more about that anecdote!). Despite all that, the welfare of his friends and family always did, and always does come first. Tragedy always grounded Jimmy and he makes it clear on more than one occasion that snooker is a game. A game that he loves dearly and one which created an incredible path for him in life, but compared to the likes of seeing cancer take his good friends and family away, it always has secondary importance.
What’s great to read was the deep camaraderie he had with his fellow players, the likes of Steve Davis, Hendry, Ronnie O’Suillivan and his best friend, the late, great Alex Higgins. He not only mentions them as fellow competitors, but acknowledges their greatness and contributions to making the sport of snooker what it is today. His tribute to Higgins is very touching and takes up a well deserved, full bodied chapter.
Sometimes when you read the raw truth about an idolised celebrity, you sometimes wished you hadn’t after. It’s kind of like watching a great film like ‘Back To The Future’, and then watching ‘The Making of Back To The Future,’ – it kind of takes the magic away. This book does nothing of the kind. In the same way a whirlwind leaves a trail of devastation behind it, Jimmy looks over his shoulder and acknowledges this, agrees he would do things differently, but he has no regrets with his life. Second Wind a very honest read and if you liked Jimmy before, you’ll love him after reading this 341 page bestseller.