Very private and public relations

Jim Dunn

£12.99 (Thoroughgood Publishing)

While bookshops all over the country have had to allocate ‘misery shelves’ to accommodate the growing appetite publishers have for triumph-over-adversity tales, Jim Dunn’s memoir is refreshingly cheerful. And quite outstandingly so for the man who was to become one of the most successful PR professionals in the UK had anything but a silver spoon start in life.

The illegitimate son of a poor family bought up in a council flat on the west coast of Scotland, Dunn realised he was gay before most of us had learned to read and write. Yet, despite the limitations of his surroundings and without a hint of self-pity, he amiably takes the reader through the early years of his life when basic comforts of warmth and food, let alone a liberal attitude to sex, were short on the ground.

He is wincingly honest about his years roaming around the darker underbelly of Glasgow and its environs – the only place where homosexual relations could take place — just has he is candid about his limitations both academically (he left school without an O’ Level to his name) and in terms of business acumen. Indeed, when he started on his stupendously successful career in travel PR, he freely admits he didn’t know one end from the other of the business.

A fortuitous meeting during an amateur dramatics performance with his now long-term partner was life-changing in many ways. He moved to London, and, through sheer hard-nosed determination and graft, into a 5-star lifestyle. However, despite enormous success, and the accoutrements that come along with it, he never falls into the self-satisfied trap. Indeed, even when surrounded by the comforts of hotels dotted in exotic locations around the world, the tone of the book is still firmly of a wide-eyed boy from Gourock.

Very private and public relations is a classic ‘warts and all’ tale: sometimes painful, often funny but most importantly, for those who still believe that hard work and dedication can lead to just rewards, it’s an inspiring read.

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