All Cheeses Great & Small

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 April, 2012, 12:00am


All Cheeses Great & Small
by Alex James
Fourth Estate (e-book)

You don't need to have been a Blur fan or familiar with the English countryside to find this memoir an intoxicating read. Like alcohol, All Cheeses Great & Small provides an escape from reality, but that both makes the book and proves to be its undoing. Having ridden the Britpop wave to its crest, Blur bassist Alex James was left with loads of cash and more time than he knew what to do with after the band's dissolution in 2003. So he bought a 200-acre (81-hectare) farm in the Cotswolds, even though he wasn't clear about how big an acre was and knew even less about farming - and thus started a lasting affair with the countryside that began with marriage to a woman who made him want no more of the groupie go-go lifestyle and endless loops of world tours. James' new life revolved around pigs, lambs and cows, ditch management, learning the ins and outs of cheese making, and understanding professional kitchens: he worked in a gastropub as a kitchen hand. His enthusiasm is undeniable, but the reader will recognise that his is a familiar story and, worse, one told through rose-tinted glasses.