Author challenges himself to do 50 adventurous activities in a year

Author who was too anxious to leave the house after his marriage broke down challenges himself to do 50 adventurous activities in a year for a new book – from beekeeping to globetrotting

  • Rob Temple says he was too anxious to leave his home after his marriage failed
  • Now he has challenged himself to complete 50 adventurous things in a year
  • He is best known for running the Very British Problems Twitter account

Born To Be Mild

by Rob Temple (Sphere £14.99, 304pp)

It may just be the effects of lockdown, but do you feel that everyone is about a dozen times more anxious than they usually are? 

It’s not good for peace of mind but pity those, such as Rob Temple, who, even before this began, could barely leave the house without wondering what disasters might befall them: tree struck by lightning? Out-of-control refuse lorry? Puddle in pavement turning out to be borehole 30 metres deep?

Temple is best known for Very British Problems, his daily tweet of typically Anglo-Saxon gloom that has been going eight years and is still funny. 

‘Go on, have it! Honestly, you have it. Go on. Have it.’ Translation: ‘I really want the last roast potato but first I must attempt to make you eat it.’ 

Rob Temple (pictured) challenges people to complete 50 adventurous things within the next year in his latest book Born to be Mild

Such little aperçus have been collected into four best-selling books.

Born To Be Mild, though, is different. It’s a sort of self-challenge: do 50 adventurous things in the next year, just to prove you can. The heart slightly sinks. 

There have been hundreds of these ‘quest’ books in which funny men do something daft, so they can write a book about it. The comedian Tony Hawks started it, in Round Ireland With A Fridge, and some of us are yet to forgive him.

Temple’s book does not start well. He goes to Barcelona on a cheap deal and is too frightened to leave his hotel room. Is anyone this incompetent, or is this an exaggeration of the real thing for humorous purposes?

I sat through these early chapters with the occasional furious gust of steam coming out of my ears. But, gra-dually, the true story emerges.

Temple (left) got married and then experienced a catastrophic break-up. Unable to bear the marital home for a moment longer, he moves back in with his parents and starts to ossify. You get the sense of a man who desperately needs to get out and do something just to save himself from falling deeper into depression.

Once you realise that the book is actually about something, the whole thing makes sense. This is writing as therapy, which just happens to make you laugh out loud on almost every page.

Born To Be Mild by Rob Temple (Sphere £14.99, 304pp)

Temple has a lovely turn of phrase and is a humorist in the classic British mode: self-deprecating, observational, introverted, sad. ‘It must be so much fun not to be frightened,’ he writes at one point.

Born To Be Mild is by no means perfect and there are quite a few discursive passages that should have been brutally blue-pencilled.

At times, he seems emotionally intelligent while, at others, he has the self-awareness of a walnut. But this is a young man’s book, possessed of an energy and a verve that older writers simply lose.

The main thing is that he has a distinctive voice and a genuine comic gift. Things to be happy about, although I wouldn’t bet on it with Rob Temple. He’ll go far, if he can ever get beyond the front door.

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