Helen Lederer: losing It reveiwed by Patrick McGuckin

This review was written by a member of the Ilkley Literature Festival review team. The Review Team take part in a special reviewing workshop at the start of the Festival before attending Festival events.

I have a confession to make before I start this review, Helen Lederer was my secret crush as a teenager. At the end of the evening she became my middle age crush.

The event at Craiglands hotel was a sell-out. The audience of mostly women enjoyed an hour of laughter. Lederer started by giving what was essentially a ten minute stand-up routine. Using her trademark “I’m useless, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m full of angst, I’m a failure” character/aspect of herself, she warmed up the audience before sitting down to be interviewed by James Nash. Nash is always my favourite interviewer at the Ilkley literature festival. He always puts his interviewee at ease and is always very well briefed on his guest and their work.

Lederer was here to promote her book, a work of fiction, Losing It which is evidently based on many of her experiences and inner angst. She gave one of the best readings ever given at the Ilkley Literature festival, getting into and acting the characters rather than just reading. The passage she entertained us with followed her character going for a colonic irrigation; something Lederer had to do herself for a magazine column.

Lederer has had a long career. She has appeared on Absolutely Fabulous and was in the first series of the diving programme Splash. Her experiences have given her a rich source for her material. At the end of the hour there was a queue of people waiting for her to sign the book. This included yours truly who managed to get her to sign “to my oldest fan “in the book Coping bought 30 years ago.

Patrick McGuckin has lived in Ilkley for 18 years and attended Ilkley Literature Festival for most of those years. Since attending the Review Writing Workshop a few years ago on a whi his has regularly reviewed events for the Festival. Patrick also reviews performances at Ilkley Playhouse for Ilkley Gazette.


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