William McInnes






Hodder Australia, August 2005
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

William McInnes is little known outside Australia, but he has a place in the affections of many Australians for his roles in the TV shows "Blue Heelers" and "Sea Change". McInnes is also famous for his dry, laconic wit which he uses to great effect in his first book, A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY.

McInnes grew up the youngest of 5 children. He lived in Redcliffe in Queensland, then a small township just outside the urban sprawl of Brisbane. It was separated from the city by mangrove swamps so it had the virtue of being within easy distance of the city, but having the characteristics of a small country town.

A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY is an affectionate stroll down the memory lane of McInnes' childhood with his noisy, nutty, disorganised family. He recounts hilarious tales of happenings such as Golan, the aggressive Christmas tree (all the McInnes Christmas trees were given names), how he learned to gargle like a man, and how he was the first person to use a cricket helmet (the fact that it was his mother's red plastic laundry bucket is neither here nor there. According to McInnes, during his childhood, his mother bore an uncanny resemblance to Jon Pertwee's Dr Who (complete with hair do), which might explain why she agreed to tie him to a tree for William's disastrous attempt to emulate the feats of Harry Houdini).

McInnes has a gift for telling a yarn and the colourful characters of his childhood seem to have been willing accomplices in his story telling. From the man with the peculiarly long arms in the line for hotdogs at the football, to his rugby coach whose attempt to motivate the team with an audio tape of the Guns of Navaronne sound track goes a-wry when he inadvertently records the commercial breaks, and his wife is heard telling him to put the dog out.

Anyone who had a happy childhood will find McInnes' stories will spark memories of their own. A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY is a genuinely laugh out loud book. I may have read funnier, but I can't remember when. I had tears of laughter rolling to my cheeks most of the time.

The author covers his early childhood through to his father's sad decline into Alzheimer's and his eventual death. It's a stark contrast after all the mirth and is written with genuine affection and emotion at the sense of loss he felt at the passing of a much loved family member.

In a recent interview McInnes mentioned that he is currently writing a follow up. I sincerely hope this is the case because there aren't enough feel-good books in the world like A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY.

April 2006 Review


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