Reading reviews of Clarissa Dickson Wright's Spilling the Beans: The Autobiography of One of Television's Two Fat Ladies, I notice one writer describes Dickson Wright as "a larger than life character." My take on that remark is that if Ms. Dickson Wright was one jot "larger than life," producers of Two Fat Ladies would have had to ditch that motorcycle-sidecar rig and haul the ol' broad around in a ten-wheel dump truck.
Speaking strictly of autobiographers, Dickson Wright is more fun than most and better reading than many. Clarissa is a competent writer, a side-splitting raconteur (think Clarissa Dangerfield), and a maniacal name-dropper. If she actually knows half the people she claims to know or have known, she's done enough living for a couple of dozen ordinary folks.
Through it all I was most impressed by Dickson Wright's forthright confession of her alcoholism, to sleeping on the streets occasionally, to squandering every dime she had, to the swamp of shame and degradation into which John Barleycorn leads those who (like this writer) are fool enough to follow. Many members of polite society, never having been there, have no idea how low one can actually go on a liquor binge. My own experience leads me to believe that Dickson Wright doesn't tell the half of it.
If I'm correct in that, what Clarissa left out is between her and her god, and that's exactly as it should be. (I once sat in a 12-step meeting and listened to the most angelic young woman I've ever seen tell how she used to go to the restroom at the supper club where she worked and lock herself in a stall so she could squat over the toilet and fill her cocaine syringe from the bowl. There aren't many who'd have the nerve to admit that in print under their own byline.)
Based upon what Clarissa gives away in this book, I'll guess that the miracle of Dickson Wright's recovery had much to do with the fact that she was born into and grew up in a home where social skills were appreciated by the parents and instilled in the children by whatever means. I say so because however unhappy Clarissa and her siblings may have been, they at least came up in the world knowing how to make friends and how to keep them. Boarding school also seems to have helped them a great deal. Many children are less fortunate, and the worth of what they miss is in many ways immeasurable.