Home Books Music Films TV Cardinal Cox Index - Cardinal Cox News, Links, Reviews


Toad illustration

Reasons to be Cheerful and What’s Going On?
Written by Mark Steel, 2001 & 2008
Simon & Schuster

Reviewed by Cardinal Cox


Mark Steel - Reasons to be Cheerful
Reasons to be Cheerful available at

What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion
What's Going On?: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion available at

Write Dope on Pnuk part 68

I’m quite a fan of comedian Mark Steel’s work, I remember listening to The Mark Steel Lectures on Radio Four and when the Open University produced television versions we watched those too. I wish that they would release either version to buy, but in the meantime my girlfriend’s brother has downloaded copies. Elsewhere on this website I’m sure I mention reading Viva La Revolution. These, though, are more autobiographical works.

In Reasons to be Cheerful Mark covers his life from growing up with punk, being expelled for truancy (which he points out is an obviously stupid punishment), joining the Socialist Workers Party (partly because they regarded the Communists as being too right-wing) and living in a squat. There are the Thatcher years and a growing suspicion that Labour didn’t want to take power. Through all this he becomes involved in various protest movements, Rock Against Racism, the Unions (leading up to the Miners’ Strike of the early ’Eighties), Nuclear Weapons and more. The book ends (though it also starts, so I’m not giving anything away) with him hating Tony Blair and New Labour.

What’s Going On? continues the story through the New Labour years, with Mark’s relationship with the mother of his children falling apart in sync’ with the erosion of the left, erosion that it actively contributed to by aligning itself to Middle East terrorists while attempting to oppose the most unpopular war in history. Not just shooting itself in the foot, but paying for the privilege.

Astute views of the last thirty-five years, with some optimism for the future if the public can be motivated, but also, at times, humorous enough to make me snort on the bus.


© All work copyright of Cardinal Cox.

This website is designed by