Belfast Telegraph

Minister-turned-author is a natural storyteller

By Terry Blain

Politicians, it seems, are widely mistrusted nowadays.

It would be hard, however, not to warm to former Labour Cabinet minister Alan Johnson, who was at Belfast Book Festival yesterday talking about This Boy, the award-winning memoir of his childhood published a year ago. Johnson is by no means a career politician, and therein lies much of his charm.

He left school at 15, stacked shelves in Tesco, and was a postman and union official before entering Westminster. In conversation with BBC Northern Ireland's Stephen Walker, he reflected on his life's untypical trajectory, and on the decision to write This Boy, as what he called "his mother's biographer".

Addressing a capacity audience at the Crescent Arts Centre, Johnson proved himself a natural, companionable storyteller, and like all the best storytellers, left his listeners wanting more. They won't have long to wait for it – Please Mr Postman, a second volume of memoirs, is due out in September.

Four stars

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