Christian O'Connell is an instantly recognisable name across the water as a DJ for what was formally Virgin FM, now renamed Absolute FM. Counting Liam Gallagher and Tony Blair amongst his call-in listeners, the breakfast show presenter has won a variety of awards down through the years for his loose, funny and sometimes controversial presenting style.
‘The Men Commandments,’ we are told, is his bible for men to reclaim their manliness in today's modern world. Between man-bags and metrosexuals, the author believes it is hard being a man in the Noughties, and dispenses advice on such lofty topics as girlfriends, barbeques and proper etiquette as a passenger in your best mate’s car.
Part autobiography, part self-help book, part lampooner of modern trends, the first thing to strike you about ‘The Men Commandments’ is that it simply does not know what it wants to be.
The autobiography section is shockingly normal, to the point where you fail to understand why the author felt the need to include it in the first place. The sections on under-age drinking down the park, your first sexual encounter, your first job etc, are so clichéd and boring that you are left scratching your head why you are reading about them at all.
After spoofing about the evolution of man for a chapter we move onto modern man and his discontents. Although the disjointed nature of the book continues, where the author constantly jumps from one subject to completely different one, I’d guiltily admit that (if you’re a man) you’ll probably find yourself laughing out loud in some sections.
In Chapter Five, for example, we learn that scientists have discovered that there are 78 genetic differences between man and woman. Christian O’Connell, for his part, gives his own take on these genetic differences and what they might be. Number 49, for example, is ‘The Bathroom Gene In Women,’ while Number 66 is ‘The Dressing Up Gene In Women.’ Although his targets are for the most part predictable, the author has a knack for the odd one-liner to round off a rant, so that despite your best efforts you’ll find yourself grinning away.
It is difficult though to get away from how the book seems to be thrown together with no real order to it.
In the chapter ‘Hollywood: The Male Moral Compass,’ for example, we learn about the author’s top ten films, and then we get a run through of his favourite TV characters. From Barney and Fred in the Flintstones to Captain Kirk from Star Trek, it’s a perplexing chapter, with the author’s opinions either extremely juvenile or ridiculously self-indulgent.
His ‘Real Men Starting XI,’ i.e. who he would have in a men's football team through the ages is another chapter you might find yourself chuckling at, although coming sandwiched as it does between ‘The Future Of Men’ and ‘The Men Commandments’ chapters, your once again left scratching your head.
'The Men Commandments' finally make an appearance in chapter ten, and contain such nuggets of information as Thou shalt not lust after your mate’s sister and Thou shalt not covet your mate's box of Sopranos. Not exactly Nobel prize winning musings.
The book is just meant to be a spoof and a laugh though, and if you were a fan of the author’s evidently-popular radio show his brand of humour would probably be a lot easier to swallow. Should you pick it up simply for some bubblegum for the brain there are some moments in the book which you’ll enjoy. Not surprisingly these are often related to his breakfast show. Through suggestions which readers have texted in, or the odd funny anecdote from a previous interview, these portions of the book go some way to explaining the author's popularity.
Ultimately, however, it is difficult to get away from the dumbed-down nature of the exercise and the jumbled manner in which it’s cobbled together. Because of this ‘The Men Commandments’ simply ends up coming across as a Christmas stocking-filler or birthday present for some younger male relative, not much else.