Seminal ‘make your own entertainment’-reinventing ‘single-player roleplaying gamebook’ by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, attracting the attention of a million bandwagon-conscious schoolboys, and the ire of a million minor politicians and BBC Local News reporters. With the aid of just dice, a pencil and some pages that a pencil could never write on properly, you too could dodge Orcs, Dragons and The Maze Of Zagor in the hope of discovering the titular Wizard and his not-at-all-ZX-Spectrum-version-of-The-Hobbit-inspired multi-lock secured treasure chest. All good clean fun despite the tabloid rumours.
Brian Eno, boys and girls: professor of pop? Pretentious production polymath? Restless bike-riding conceptual artist? Son of Norfolk postman? Girly faced bloke off of Roxy who couldn’t play his own synthesiser properly? Well, yes.
You’d think that the personal itinerary of a man who, it seems, can’t wipe his arse without theorising about its cultural significance, or imagining an alternative universe in which the Andrex puppy is worshipped as a primitive deity, or faxing the results to David Bowie’s LA office as the basis of a tone poem, is going to be a pretty hard slog to read. And to be sure, there is a fair bit of airless pondering about curating obscure art happenings, organising worthy charity projects in Bosnia and “generative music”, whatever the hell that is.
But there’s more to this unedited account of a year’s worth of freelance boffinry that meets the eye. Eno’s got a sense of humour that’s as endearing as it is often overlooked, meaning the essays on digital society are leavened with loads of gags and whimsical thoughts on hoovering, front bottoms, interactive CD Roms being a great big steaming pile of shite and dreams about escaping from the Nazis with U2. Even the most hardened chattering class sceptic will have warmed to him by the time March rolls on.
On top of that, it’s disarmingly honest, Eno unafraid to leave in his sexual daydreams (great big women’s arses, mainly), fits of childlike curiosity (“Why do some turds float?”) and an infamous evening when, so transfixed is he by an edition of also-ran Armando Iannucci satirical sketch pile-up The Saturday Night Armistice, he urinates into an empty wine bottle in order not to miss a single golden second of Douglas Hogg-based ribaldry, then, out of pure unfettered intellectual curiosity, knocks back a sample of his own product to assess the quality. You don’t get that with Piers Morgan.