Beat Till Stiff by Peta Mathias

beatBeat Till Stiff, A Woman’s Recipe for Living by Peta Mathias, is a book of funny and wise life lessons in the form of essays.

Before reading Beat Till Stiff, I hadn’t heard of the author (okay, I admit it, the title made me laugh and that is why I selected this book). Peta Mathias is a New Zealander, who has a food and travel show on television, Taste New Zealand. After reading ‘Why Redheads Have More Fun,’ I googled the author and she has the most beautiful red hair and delicate colouring. I instantly resolved to go to a hairdresser to dye my greying, dull brown hair a glamorous red, but my resolve died out before I actually made an appointment. I’m still thinking about it, but the author says it is impossible to be “dull and dowdy’ with red hair. Very, very tempting.

A Letter to my Much Younger Self is pure hindsight – summed up as enjoy the good times, don’t fret over stupid stuff and give philandering boyfriends the flick and never give them a second thought.

Eat, Sing, Love is a joyful essay about the early days of the author’s romance with a French man in France, eating truffles and walnut oil and going ‘strawberry picking,’ which is the French version of parking in lover’s lane, apparently. The author sings jazz with her lover’s band and it all sounds so wonderful that it reminds me of similar happy times in my own life (parking on Apex Hill, looking out at the lights of our town – but it is so long ago I can’t remember what we ate – probably fish and chips).

The essay called Channelling Edith is fascinating. I’ve never had any interest at all in jazz or cabaret music, but after reading the chapter on Edith Piaf and her influence on the author’s life and work and singing, I’ve googled Piaf and listened to her music. Her life was tragic and her voice beautiful.

How To Buy Hope is about getting older, summed up as; maintaining your appearance as you age costs a bomb. Your health, mental and physical, will probably suffer as you get older too. On the plus side, (hopefully) you’ll realise what is important and what is not.

I enjoyed Beat Till Stiff. Peta Mathias is funny and straight talking and tells good stories. She also gives good advice. For me the best advice she gave is; if you’re grown up, it is time to stop blaming your mother.