Read What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion by Mark Steel Online


Comedian Mark Steel has spent most of his life a committed, signed-up member of the Socialist Workers Party. The Labour Party coming to power in 1997 could have been the start of a new political dawn for Mark and for Britain. But instead, big business and war-mongering thrived under New Labour, and in many ways the working class seemed to become more marginalised. Petty biComedian Mark Steel has spent most of his life a committed, signed-up member of the Socialist Workers Party. The Labour Party coming to power in 1997 could have been the start of a new political dawn for Mark and for Britain. But instead, big business and war-mongering thrived under New Labour, and in many ways the working class seemed to become more marginalised. Petty bickering and in-fighting racked the SWP, numbers dwindled horribly, socialism became a dirty word and Mark Steel began to think the unthinkable . . . do I really want to belong to this rabble anymore? At the same time, entering his forties, Mark's personal life began to disintegrate. Spending many sleepless nights on the sofa, watching inane cable TV into the early hours of the morning, Mark asked himself the question, 'What is Going On?' In a book that goes right to the heart of Britain and the problems it suffers today, Mark wonders why over a million people marching in London couldn't stop the war in Iraq, why supermarkets are killing the small town centres of Britain and why George Galloway went on Celebrity Big Brother destroying any political credibility he may have had in the blink of a cat's eye. Bitingly funny, poignant, sharply observed and very much of the moment, this is Mark Steel at his brilliantly intelligent best....

Title : What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781847372819
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

What’s Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion Reviews

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-02-23 13:35

    I devote a large percentage of my viewing activities to political satire, probably more than is culturally healthy, and do so now almost on autopilot whenever I have mealtimes to kill or crave laughter. This comedian and activist I relish in particular, partly through his brilliant lecture series on philosophers, poets and troublemakers, The Mark Steel Lectures, 96% of which are available on the old YouTube device. The design of this book irritates me. Why can’t any book by a comedian—especially one containing in-depth cultural and political analysis—be marketed without contrived wackiness? Anyway, it’s a vastly entertaining blend of scathing anti-capitalist invective, touching personal insight, and assorted cultural meanderings on events throughout the noughties.

  • Nimue Brown
    2019-03-05 15:29

    This is the political book I have most enjoyed so far. It’s one of the few to have offered any kind of suggested ways forwards. It is the first political book I’ve read that hasn’t depressed the hell out of me. It also helps that the author has a sense of humour and an eye for the ridiculous. The analogies are pant wettingly funny, and disturbingly accurate at times. We’ve got so complacent about the many things that are wrong. Pointing and laughing can be a good antidote to that.This, is the best handbook for revolution that I’ve thus far found. Revolution based on getting our priorities straight, resisting the crap, and having a good laugh. The kind of revolution where a pint or a nice cake remain viable options and no one has to shoot anyone for not having proper revolutionary spirit. A sense that maybe we could fix things, and improve the world, and some reminders that actually we’ve made a lot of progress, even if it does feel like two steps forward, one step back sometimes. Nicely done.

  • William Bibliomane
    2019-03-07 12:37

    Mark Steel's 2008 book tries to do several things at once, but as the "meandering" and "confusion" mentioned on the cover indicate, the book really never comes together as a coherent whole. Which is a pity, because Steel is generally a funny and clever man. A disappointing effort.Full review here:

  • Richard Howard
    2019-03-02 11:37

    Telling the parallel stories of two breakups - with his partner and his party - Mark Steel, as one would expect, manages to infuse both with his trademark humour, using hyperbolic analogy to comic affect. Often wistful but never sentimental, he turns an unwavering eye on the reasons for the breakdown of both relationships and is honest about each. His analysis of class in the UK is more pertinent than ever and I admire that he still has hope that something can be done to halt the rapacious advance of the profit motive. I am more inclined to side with Frankie Boyle's bleak view of our future but am glad there are still Mark Steels out there fighting the good fight.

  • Paul
    2019-03-11 14:43

    The book is an autobiography telling 2 main stories that are intertwine throughout the book with smaller anecdotes justifying Mark Steel’s views.The first story is the breakdown of his marriage, Steel writes it very well, I was taken in by the story, most of the relating anecdotes are very funny and although bits of the story that make you depressed, the next page has one throwaway line that has you laughing aloud.The Second general story in the book is about another crisis in Steel’s life; his disillusionment with the old hard left in British politics and his abandonment of the Socialist Worker’s Party (SWP) after over 25 years. For those of us who have been interested in the left, the story is very poignant. I proudly describe myself as left wing but despite this I have never wanted to join a left wing group because there membership is depressingly small. I once went to a local talk by a branch of the SWP (but I’m not sure it was them as it was about 5 years back) on the 90th anniversary of the Russian revolution and its impact on European socialism, however I was put off, there were only about 5 others in the room and I was the youngest one by almost double my own age (I was 18 at the time and the next youngest member was in his late 30 or early 40s). Steel paints a picture that could justify the stereotype of socialist organisation in the country; small, petty organisations that spend their time squabbling with similar organisations (think the Judean Peoples Front) Steel’s stories are hilariously depressing, the organisation one week working closely with fellow organisation and the next week scathingly denouncing them in Trotskyite language. Finally Steel has enough of this and leaves the organisation.Finally the book is full of rants justifying Mark Steel’s political view and anecdotes from his life, my personal favourites being the IKEA one and the one where he is playing “I’m so bored of the USA” during a 3 minute silence then realising the song is only 2 minutes 42 seconds long. These will keep the reader smiling and laughing throughout as well as educating the reader about the occasional statistic.Despite all the laughs however I can only give it 4 stars, the book has one weakness in my eyes, it jumps around too much, breaking up long stories with shorter anecdotes and short political rants before it then jumps back 10 pages later. As a result its use of the term “meanderings” in the sub title is very fitting. I don’t think this really harms the book over all but it does annoy me slightly and that is why I knocked off a star. Other then that it’s a brilliant read that I’d recommend to anyone. Especially those who want to learn what real socialism can be.

  • Simon Wood
    2019-03-07 10:43

    HIGH TENSION STEEL It's possible that even the hardest of hard right-wingers will feel some sympathy for comedian Mark Steels plight as he stumbles through his 40's. His relationship has gone belly up, the political party that he has been a member of since his teens has falling apart, one of his close political comrades has died, and if that's not bad enough, well . . . he's became a good friend of Bob Monkhouse.Mark Steel weaves the belly laughs in with the more melancholy moments and creates a splendid memoir of his confused meanderings through the first half dozen or so years of the last decade. Whether he is talking about his failing relationship or his two kids, his experience of campaigning against the war in Iraq, super-markets, celebrities or schools, or even George Galloway there's a plentiful supply of wit and even a little wisdom too.I found this one hard to put down and recommend keeping it aside for a long, empty and chore free afternoon. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

  • Nick Davies
    2019-03-09 16:15

    In the genre of 'autobiographical books by comedians which also have a message', this was pretty strong. Despite Steel's views on socialism and globalisation not being ones I agree wholeheartedly with, he did have a lot of intelligent things to say about politics and current affairs since the coming of New Labour, and it had a balance which worked pretty well with regards serious points, personal stuff, and funny/witty satire and surrealism. The balance tipped a bit in the final quarter, and some of his arguments felt a bit unconvincing and repetitive in the sense that most paragraphs would make a serious point, then say "..which is like [ludicrous thing] doing [ludicrous thing]!" in an exaggerated manner which felt a bit like the laziest sort of satire. He singularly failed to convince me that capitalism and the consumer world is necessarily bad, and socialism is necessarily good (in fact, a lot of the discussion of socialism focussed on the pettiness of socialist organisations) but he wrote a very readable, clever, and often funny book.

  • Ben
    2019-02-24 13:35

    A very entertaining read which should make you cackle out loud if you've caught yourself swearing at advertisments on a fairly regular basis. Steel is a wildly entertaining left wing comedian who writes regularly for the Guardian UK, perhaps now column has moved to The Independent. His history of an obviously daunting mid-life crisis (breaking up with mother of his children on top of leaving 20 year connection to socialist grouping) is admirably free of maudlin self-pity, and he always finds things to keep himself laughing no matter how grim things get. Best of all, after leaving the progressively more ridiculous SWP he's still on the side of the underdogs of the world and absolutely disinterested in currying favor with those in power.He's also incredibly sweet about his kids without ever being remotely cloying. I'm looking forward to listening to a trove of his BBC pieces on philosophy, history and assorted cultural matters, mp3s are at his website.

  • Jerry Hall
    2019-02-23 12:14

    Really enjoyable read. As an ex SWP member from the eighties when everything seemed possible and politics felt connected i share Marks analysis of what's happeed since then and why we are where we are in terms of socialism. Ironically, I'm writing this as Greek workers and students are telling the bosses and their backers in the corrupt world financial system they don't believe their view of the world and they don't want to take their medicine - it is optional despite the bankers protestations. So maybe things are turning and we're entering a period where the old certainties are up for grabs. The bankers will be saying ' crisis, what crisis - look at my bonus'Read this book - it's funny and it'll open your eyes. The poigniant decline of Marks relationship gives the book a strong personal edge.

  • Derek Ide
    2019-02-21 15:27

    Very funny, and addresses a variety of issues that anyone familiar with left-wing politics should know quite well. From the sectarianism to strange left-wing political culture, Mark Steel takes a very entertaining but critical look at his (and my own) tradition. He weaves a lively tale of corporate domination (his anecdote on IKEA had me laughing endlessly) of every aspect of our lives, and the often valiant but misguided attempts to change it. The primary theme or moral I found in this book, however, was that we on the left shouldn't eat ourselves from the inside out. We have enough on our plate already, let's not make each other the enemies as well.

  • Steven Pilling
    2019-02-20 14:41

    This can be seen as a companion to his earlier volume.This is interesting you feel Steels pain as some of the things he cherishes seem to be falling apart. Steel is able to apply his own world weary view to events, explain why he feels the way he does and show annoyance over the things that dont in his mind work.He is a very strong writer , you hear his voice and feel that it is authentic and real. If you wwant to read a social history of the 80's to the present and especially one that deals with the UK left wing then this may be the best thing you may ever read.

  • Anna Grady
    2019-02-20 12:32

    A good read for people roughly in the same age bracket and with the same political sympathies as it trots you through recent political times and how faith with New Labour was lost and the SWP STILL couldn't get any new members. He writes well and it's amusing (rather than laugh out loud funny) but I found the humour becomes a bit predictable after a while ie take an example and then exaggerate it outrageously. I enjoyed his take on the morals of reality TV and the downfall of the Respect party and new activism via social media.

  • Cearúil Swords
    2019-03-11 14:39

    One part social commentary and one part memoir of a troubled time this book was quickly read. I laughed a great deal but I understand what another reviewer said about his gags usually coming from a place of exaggeration. It could get repetitive for some but I found myself entertained through out. His observations on the current state of politics and his views on the hallowed place profit must have in order for anything to be considered feasible or attractive rang through to me but I'm just a woolly liberal type anyway ;p

  • Paul Smith
    2019-03-18 12:42

    I've always had a soft spot for Mark Steel, since watching his lecture series some years ago. The intelligence, warmth and humanity of the man shine through every word of this book, which as a bonus is utterly, utterly, hilarious. If only the Left was more like him and Tony Benn, I'd follow it anywhere. A theme of the book is the split from his wife which is handled brilliantly - if he continues to put out material like this, I'll marry him myself.

  • Godzilla
    2019-03-13 16:44

    I picked this up on a whim, and it wasn't exactly what I expected it to be.Mark Steel had always seemed very assured and committed in his viewpoint to me. This book shows how he hit his 40s and then life began to unravel, and he begins to question his beliefs and approach to life.It's obviously quite raw and painful in places, and the humour is very self deprecating.It's an interesting read, to see someone apparently so committed begin to lose that verve and passion.

  • Taruia
    2019-02-27 11:19

    One of the problems about autobiographies is that they 'appear' to be censored - that there are things that aren't talked about for whatever reason. Mark Steel's book isn't like that at all. Perhaps I might have wanted a bit more about his comedy, but I initially bought it because of my own lament at the demise and cannibalism of non-mainstream left-of-centre political parties. This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book, well written and whose premise (or catalyst) was 'What's Going On'.

  • Steve Gillway
    2019-03-12 14:14

    Some good jokes in here and some great insights. However, somethings just do not go together. Basically, it is a hodgepodge - bits of standup routine - bits of current affairs and the the demise of the two great loves of his life (in far too much detail). When a comic gets too self-deprecating and just plain sad, somehow the jokes do not work. In Marksteelese "It's like a BP cut and paste job , with all the walruses left in".

  • Adrian
    2019-03-06 14:26

    Very good. Easy to read. And for me it has so many references that I understand that it has a cosy comforting effect - even when describing all the woes of both the world (some very astutely indeed) and his personal life, the familiarity makes it easy to read.So - if you're a british, left wing, forty-something you'll probably like it too. And of not then you might like it anyway.

  • Yannis Cosmadopoulos
    2019-02-26 15:23

    Very funny description of the confusion felt by a 40 something lefty coming to terms with today's realities. Corporations in control of everything, the left becoming irrelevant, wars proceeding despite massive opposition and failure of his marriage... Throughout all this he finds ways to laugh and find reasons to keep fighting.

  • Karen
    2019-03-11 16:14

    At first it seems to be a rambling account of early 2000's politics interspersed with vague references to his marriage breakup, but I only realised quite late on that the author is paralleling his disillusionment with the Socialist Workers Party to his marriage breakdown. Neither part is very successful. although I did learn a bit about the politics of a period when I wasn't paying attention.

  • Mark Nunn
    2019-03-11 11:43

    A fantastic book, he describes wonderfully how your perspective changes as you age with the realisation that you can measure your life in the number of bananas you will eat. Going to be very picky about my bananas now.

  • Rachel
    2019-03-12 15:21

    I finished this a while ago- and I can't remember anything about it! I would guess it was very good- but I honestly can't remember, which makes me think it wasn't as unusual as I would imagine it should be.I think I'll have to re read it sometime!

  • Abi Rhodes
    2019-03-16 16:43

    Fantastic book! Society does need a way out of the mess it has found itself in and Mr Steel is right that there needs to be a more unified Left in the UK.

  • Lucia
    2019-03-18 17:24


  • Peter
    2019-03-06 13:15

    Mark Steel gives a refreshingly alternative view of the world without stooping to tribalism and bigotry. His writing is also very witty and observant.

  • Bookhuw
    2019-03-13 12:14

    A self-affirming volume for those who feel there's no-one left (either sense of the word) to vote for, and are still mystified at the disappearence of serious or significant socialist slants.

  • Peter Sharpe
    2019-03-04 13:27

    Entertaining autobiography/commentary on current affairs post 1997. The prose is easy to read and full of Steel's wit.