26 September 2023

Like Father, Like Son: A Family Story

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Michael Parkinson, Hachette Australia, $32.99.

Known globally as the ‘chat show king’, Sir Michael Parkinson has written a poignant book, an insightful one, that takes a look at the life and times of the man he most looked up to — the father who shaped his career.

His relationship with his late father John William Parkinson was, and remains, a family love story overflowing with tenderness and tall tales of sporting valour, usually involving Yorkshire cricket or Barnsley FC.

The English broadcaster and journalist, 85, affectionately says, “my old man” was “remarkable with a marvellous facility to adorn an anecdote”. He was from “a very poor background went down the pit aged 14 and came up 40 years later and died”. He has emotionally described the devastating effect of watching his father “withering away” during his battle with the lung disease pneumoconiosis, with his death in 1975.

Of all the games his father loved cricket the most. In fact, “he judged everything and everyone by the game”.

This tome has had a long gestation period, primarily because of the author’s resistance to it. It was a door that had been closed for “for too long”. However, the combination of pressure from his friend Roddy Bloomfield and an appearance on Piers Morgan’s talk show resulted in the book being “finally born”.

Like Father, Like Son was co-written with son Mike Jr, 53, a process that has been nearly 40 years in the making.

This volume is a “tender tribute to a wonderful man, an attempt to understand the grip of grief and the emotional minefield that is the relationship between a father and a son, and to see how much was passed on to me by him and what still lives within me. It is at its heart a love letter from me and every part of my family.”

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