Roger McGough (Arrow Books, £8.99)

Roger McGough, one of Britain's best-loved poets, begins his autobiography with a letter addressed to an audience waiting for him to perform, which states he has employed an out-of-work actor to impersonate him, read poems answer questions, sign books, get drunk and generally keep up the poetic image.

It's a letter that he often reads out before a performance, particularly in a foreign country where he's unknown and where the only available photos of the author are those on the back covers of books published long ago. Reading it out aloud results in puzzled mutterings in Czech or Portuguese: "Is he really an actor?" "Is he really the poet?"

The letter arises from the fact that he has never fully resolved the conflict between the privacy of the poet and the public face of the performer - his favourite journey is not the one over Hammersmith Bridge on a summer's evening, or on the ferry crossing the Mersey, but the journey he makes at the end of a show from the microphone centre-stage to the dressing room - he is not very good at bowing and coming back for encores. This is a poet who is happier writing poems than performing them.

Although he didn't study at Oxford, this gifted scouser published his first poem in an Oxford journal. It was a crazy little poem (as so many of his poems are) which likened the sunset to a fried egg slipping out of the pan.

Seeing it laid out on the printed page, with his name boldly placed underneath, spurred him on to greater things and confirmed a belief he had harboured for some time that he was a fully fledged poet - and what's more, his poems were going to set the world on fire. Since then, he has written more than 50 books, including The Mersey Sound with fellow Liverpool poets Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, which remains the biggest-selling British poetry book.

Like the best of his poetry, his autobiography is packed full of hilarious observations, unbelievable stories, nostalgic reminiscences and bittersweet tales of love, life and loss.

Roger McGough is to perform an evening of stories and new poems on Saturday, March 15, at 7.45pm at Amey Theatre, Abingdon School, as part of the Abingdon Arts Festival.