I recently ended up reading two books side by side, It’s Not About the Bike by
Lance Armstrong and Stuart: a Life Backwards by Alexander Masters. Now I don’t like watching sport, I don’t like talking about sport and I don’t like reading about sport but a friend in work gave me ‘It’s Not About the Bike” and told me it’s not about the bike. Most of it is about Armstrong’s remarkable battle against cancer, and he is a remarkable person but where I started out rooting for him, I ended up disliking his smugness. As the battle against cancer, which is an intriguing read, became history, and he began to win the races I just got a bit bored, and found his cocky competitiveness to be a big turn off.
In the meantime I was getting to know Stuart Shorter, a paranoid homeless alchoholic violent suicidal self-harming junkie. Stuart’s life is told backwards, (as Armstrong’s simulaneously goes forward, onwards and upwards) , so you get to find out what made Stuart the man he is, and the more I read, the more I found myself rooting for him. I wanted him to win and Armstrong to lose. But the tragic are tragic to the end, and winners are winners.
Stuart and his biographer, Alexander Masters became friends of sorts, through a field of differences. It’s a fascinating read, and their story has recently been televised and it’s on this Sunday:
Stuart: A Life Backwards
BBC2. Sun 23 Sep, 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm 90mins