In this compelling, but tightly controlled, memoir, he likes to blow his own trumpet, quoting letters and articles praising him. I did have a slight ‘pot-calling-kettle-black’ feeling when he harangued politicians for being egotistical, thick-skinned and ambitious... The childhood chapters are extremely moving. Gerry’s first 16 years were blighted by debilitating asthma, requiring him to take weeks off school every term... On the jacket of this memorable, but frustrating, book, Scarfe has drawn himself as a jester holding a quill pen. It’s far milder than his cartoons of other people. It would require a more ruthless cartoonist to capture the man who tells the truth, and nothing but the truth, but not the whole truth.
Scarfe wants us to know he has a high opinion of himself, which is the hallmark of the insecure. Recalling his apprenticeship as a commercial artist, during which he spent five years making drawings of saucepans, shoes and eiderdowns for Selfridge’s catalogues, he seems filled with rage, as if he knew from the first day, when he had to “sweep the floor and make the morning tea”, that he was tremendously superior to any of it. In the evenings he attended life-drawing class. At the age of 27 he enrolled at the Royal College of Art, but left after three weeks, believing he knew it all.