I Never Had A Proper Job is a charming memoir which covers many subjects: the Catholic Church’s power over society; corporal punishment in schools; poverty; war-time rationing; and the general innocence of children at the time. However, it avoids falling into the category of yet another biography set in ‘Old Dublin’ for it is told from the unique perspective of a boy who wants to be an actor. Such a decision challenges everything he is taught including the course set out for his solid job. Delving into the world of Theatre and Drama, Cassin recalls the actors and stars of his time; he records the fit-up touring days; running a tiny theatre club in Baggot Street, Dublin, and a 200-seater, the 37 Theatre Club in O’Connell Street before the fire authorities and then a business firm ejected him.
While the harsh reality of the Dublin of the time is ever-present, I Never Had A Proper Job explores an alternative side of it in the Arts scene at work. Not all his stories are from the theatre. This is the story of Barry Cassin, the child, man, husband and father. He recalls his youth, his parents, and particularly his wife, Nancy, who failed totally to turn him into a farmer. The result is a delightful and entertaining read. A must-have for not only theatre and culture aficionados, but those interested in a way of living long gone.