Sometimes I Forgot to Laugh
Author: Peter Roebuck
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Rating: 3.5 stars
By Archie Mac
27 Nov 2011
When in 2005 I first asked James, the founder of Cricket Web, whether I could start a book review section, he replied we would need at least seven books to launch it.
To my regret I did not choose Peter Roebuck's autobiography as one of the seven despite finishing the book only a month earlier. I wonder now what I would have written about Sometimes I forgot to laugh
back then. By reviewing the book with the knowledge of the author's sad demise, my concern was that I would look for signs in the text of the eventual tragedy.
As expected this is exactly what happened. While re-reading the book I discovered plenty of signs that Roebuck was a troubled individual. Most noticeably his habit of blaming everyone bar himself. This was particularly prevalent concerning the great schism in Somerset cricket in 1985, when the club sacked its three legends; Joel Garner, Viv Richards and Ian Botham.
Reading Roebuck's description of events you would think he was an innocent bystander. His account is in stark contrast to the versions of Richards and Botham who both thought Roebuck the engineer of their demise.
Perhaps the most interesting chapter is the one in which Roebuck covers the court case that seems to be a precursor to his most recent troubles. Even his discourse regarding the events, told in a factual way, makes for disturbing reading. What Roebuck seems to think as normal behaviour is strange, such as disciplining grown men by spanking their bottoms with "a few whacks with a stick." Again he apportions blame to the students who stayed with him, suggesting they were given bad advice or money to testify against him and make up lies. He particularly fingers Botham as a reason the male students accused him of inappropriate behaviour.
In fact Roebuck does such a fine job protesting his innocence in this book that it is a pity he could not summon the energy to defend himself against his latest accusers. Sometimes I forgot to laugh
is a well written and thought provoking book and the recent death of the author, and the manner in which his demise occurred, makes it a poignant read.