Monday, 4 January 2010

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ by Sue Townsend

A real time piece from the 1980s, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ is a brilliantly funny slice of social observation, drawn through the eyes of its eponymous hero. Sue Townsend’s pen was as sharp as ever during the later books, but unfortunately, Adrian himself had begun to depress me and I stopped reading them...

A hypochondriac who thinks he’s an intellectual, Adrian bumbles through life with a complete lack of self unawareness. His diary captures his frustrations with his family, his school and his love for the treacle haired Pandora Braithwaite.

He starts the year with a worthy set of New Year’s resolutions:

8. After hearing the disgusting noises from downstairs last night, I have also vowed never to drink alcohol.
My father got the dog drunk on cherry brandy at the party last night. If the RSPCA hear about it he could get done.

Woodbine smoking OAP Bert Baxter is another thorn in Adrian’s side. After looking after him for the Good Samaritans for a few months, he finds himself having to clean up his filthy home:

Pandora and I went to look at Bert’s house today. It is a truly awesome sight. If Bert took all his empty beer bottles back to the off-license he might get enough money on the empties to pay off his rent arrears... My father took Bert’s beer bottles back to the off-license this morning. The boot, back seat and floor of the car were filled with them. The car stank of brown ale. He ran out of petrol on the way and called the AA. The AA man was most uncivil, he said it wasn’t the Automobile Association my father needed, it was Alcoholics Anonymous.

He drily recounts the time that Bert comes to visit, driven over by Pandora’s father:

Pandora’s father stayed for a quick drink, then a pre-lunch one, then a chaser, then one for the road. Then the had one to prove that he never got drunk during the day... I had to endure watching my father do his imitation of some bloke called Frank Sinatra singing ‘One for my baby and one more for the road’. Pandora’s father pretended to be the bartender with our Tupperware custard jug.

New Year comes round again so quickly. His last entry for the year ends thus:

My father came crashing through the front door at 1 a.m. carrying a lump of coal in his hand. Drunk as usual. My mother started going on about what a wonderful son I was and how much she loved me. It’s a pity she never says anything like that when she’s sober.

And so onto Adrian’s Growing Pains...

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