"It's pretty addictive - and totally absorbing," Rod Stewart confesses in his new memoirs.
Rod — The Autobiography
REVIEW: SIMON COLLINS
"It's pretty addictive - and totally absorbing," Rod Stewart confesses in his new memoirs. "The world disappears while I'm doing it."
What is it? Singing hits like Maggie May or Do Ya Think I'm Sexy in front of thousands of adoring fans? Bedding yet another statuesque blonde? Snorting a line of cocaine?
No, "it" is building model railroads, something the ageing rock rooster takes very, very seriously. However: "There is no wearing of peaked caps, waving of flags or blowing of whistles," Stewart writes. "Furthermore, anyone found in the vicinity of the layout making train noises will find themselves forcibly ejected without further question."
Of course, plenty of models of the leggy, blonde sort feature in Rod, a remarkably easy-reading and self-deprecating tome. Allegedly ghost-written by editor Giles Smith, the memoir possesses the same amiable conversational tone as Keith Richards' superb Life.
The book features plenty of digressions on pet subjects ranging from model trains, football, cars, collecting pre-Raphaelite paintings, and his hair. The latter is covered in a hilarious chapter, which shares some hair-care tips learned with Faces band mate Ronnie Wood.
There are other great tales from Stewart's first steps as a musician, especially yarns of performing alongside mentor Long John Baldry at Eel Pie Island; the names alone are enough to evoke baroque images of London's nascent blues-rock scene.
Readers hoping for some sex and drugs with their rock'n'roll are in luck. Rod is a cad, but also a doting father - and a prolific one given the near half-century span between his first child (given up for adoption, with an awkward reconciliation decades later) and his eighth, Aiden, with third wife Penny Lancaster.
You're left with a portrait beset with contradictions (Stewart is a flash geezer, but careful with money), yet ultimately Rod is the sort of bloke you'd like to have a beer with. You just wouldn't let your blonde girlfriend tag along.