Tuesday, 26 March 2013

And with a single leap, he was free

After yesterday's mega-post reporting on the AWWE conference I attended at the weekend, I need a holiday. And I'm going to have one: a whole week in Ireland. This means no phone, no texting, no tweeting, no blogging, no e-mail and no marking.

Actually, no fishing either. Having been forced to eat the horrible stuff every Friday for 18 years (and for breakfast every Saturday if I didn't eat it for dinner, until we got a greedy and clever cat which knew under which chair to sit), I can't face it. Though I did eat a big plate of hake served by my gourmet aunt last year.

But I digress. Which is really the point of blogging, surely? My week off means lots of walking (in the rain), perhaps some swimming in the Atlantic and plenty of reading. After the holiday I'm teaching more Milton, Lorna Sage's Bad Blood, Gwyn Thomas's Sorrow for thy Sons and, er, Jilly Cooper's Riders. It's for a course on the relationship between reading positions and social class, so it fits. The only problem is that it's such a relentlessly terrible book. The clichés come thick and fast, the plot is painstakingly explained at length in every other paragraph by a very bossy narrator and even the famed filth, which is meant to pervade every comma and syllable, is actually evasive and minimal. So far I've read 80 pages and there have been 6 lines of hay-rolling, expressed in language so coy that Barbara Cartland would be yawning.

The plot is basically class-rivalry between a cruel double-barrelled Toff and a Hard But Ultimately Good Gypsy with a chip on his shoulder. Meanwhile there are nasty female toffs and nasty social-climbing toffs and miserable fat toffs (who shag said Gypsy to annoy Mummy) and lots and lots of horses. Even worse, the fat toff woman is called Tory, so I'm finding empathy difficult.

Chums, I once read a Jeffrey Archer novel: this is far, far worse. I'm just hoping that it will become ludicrous enough to amuse me. But it will still serve my academic purposes nicely. Perhaps on my return I'll regale you with choice quotes. For now, have a taster of the TV version ('You don't need French to make love… just a Frenchman'). Near the end there's a lovely reference to prurient media interest in the lives of the rich ('Gotcha, super-bastard', goggles the tabloid hackette):

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