Camp Canine 

The Lick of Love – How Dogs Changed My Life by Julian Clary

I have been a fan of this particular Renowned Homosexual (as Julian likes to style himself) ever since he first appeared on TV in the early 1980s. The fact that his sarcastic, risqué humour was accompanied by his canine companion,  a beautiful little whippet-cross known as Fanny the Wonder Dog, only made me love him more. She seemed to echo his disdain for the audience; it was a delight to watch.

So you can imagine that when I learned he had written this memoir specifically about Fanny and her successors, I simply had to read it. And it did not disappoint. I don’t know if it’s because we are the same age, share a political outlook, or just that we have the same affection for the waifs and strays  of the dog world, but Julian made me laugh and cry many times while I devoured the book in the course of four days.  I knew he loved Fanny, that was obvious, but I had no idea how important she had become to him. 

He takes the reader through the highs and inevitable lows of pet ownership (he asked his long-time pal Paul Merton to put dogs’ life spans into Room 101 on the panel show), as well as putting one or two of his more controversial moments into context. It is interesting to follow his exploits when he is seduced by the romance of owning his hero Noel Cowerd’s former home in Kent. A city boy, he adjusts well, buying chickens and of course the dogs love the big garden. Sadly, after some years the costs of keeping such a place going become too much, unfortunately. 

A small health warning: Julian’s life and loves (he is now happily married), and the four rescue dogs – as well as Fanny, he has had Valerie, Albert and Gigi –  that have accompanied him along the way are all discussed with some candour that might not suit every reader. But this is 2022, and I hope many out there will enjoy this wonderful, funny, heartwarming and deeply moving memoir.

Published by Quercus ISBN 978-1-52941-250-5

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