Tag Archives: Thatcher

Thoughts on the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books by Sue Townsend

Adrian Mole 1 and 2

After finishing the mental assault that is ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’, I thought that I’d better choose something decidedly lighter in tone for my next reading project. I only own the first two ‘Adrian Mole’ books, and thought that I may as well approach them both together due to them being fairly short and following directly on from one another. Also, I’ve got a ridiculous amount of posts to do on books I’ve read recently, so this amalgamation speeds the process up somewhat.

There isn’t really a vast amount to say regarding these books, as they are fairly unassuming and not overly spectacular, to be honest. Don’t get me wrong, they are very funny in places due to the ironic tone that Townsend takes and in the innocence of much of what Mole writes, but they just don’t stand out as great works of fiction to be honest. I did enjoy them though. The use of a diary structure allows for revelations to appear gradually and add much of the humour to the books, with the reader travelling with Mole through the events of his life. One aspect of the books that I particularly liked was the fact that they were written and set in the early 1980’s, and as such include many political and cultural references from the time that are interesting glimpses into the recent past. I did not pick up on some of the references, but understood the vast majority, and particularly liked Mole’s view of Margaret Thatcher:

Friday February 12th

…Sometimes I think Mrs Thatcher is a nice kind sort of woman. Then the next day I see her on television and she frightens me rigid. She has got eyes like a psychotic killer, but a voice like a gentle person. It is a bit confusing.

from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾

The main thing that bothered me with both of these books was the tone that Townsend uses, with Mole coming across as world-weary and somewhat precocious in his views and opinions of himself, and I fear that in the later volumes this tone may get incredibly irritating if attached to an adult character. As a child and a teenager, it is somewhat believable (some passages remind me very much of my own early-teenage diaries), but gets grating after a while.

Saying that, I will definitely re-read these, in part because they are light reading and quite quick to get through, but also because I want to see if my attitude towards them changes upon second read. I just don’t think that I will read any more after these two. Let me know if you disagree!

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Political intolerance

Before I start this post, I will say that this is based on personal observation and opinion- so don’t moan at me for what I say!

The reason that I’m writing this is because yesterday I came across an interesting string of comments regarding a uni friend’s choice of political party, and found the whole episode irritating to say the least. This was for two reasons: 1) Their grasp of British politics was rather shaky, despite professing that they knew what they were talking about, and  2) I am now unsure how their staunch views affect my relationship with them, as I would be a prime example of someone their party wouldn’t like.  Now, let me explain.

I am a supporter of the UK’s Labour Party- I do not hide this fact. However, I can see that other parties leaders may have been decent in the past and done their jobs well. For example, I can see that for the most part, Churchill was a good leader and Prime Minister during WWII, but this would not make me instantly vote Tory or Liberal, even though he belonged to both of these parties at various points of his career.  I say this because the said Facebook rant seemed to take the line that because Margaret Thatcher had been an effectual leader and caused a change for the better in an Eastern Block country, then the party she belonged to would therefore be the best thing for the UK 20 years later. Just by reading that, you can probably see the flaw in the reasoning. It wasn’t that no knowledge of politics was exhibited per se, but it showed a lack of knowledge and regard for the country- any argument made against this view that tried to show the way people are worse off under the present Lib/Con coalition was ignored or attacked on personal grounds. Now, personal attacks are not okay in political debates or discussions and have no place in politics. However, the lack of seeming regard for the fact that many areas of the UK are in poverty, with families living on the ‘bread line’ and unable to find work or any form of help under the present government, seemed to me insulting. As I said above, the fact that a past Tory leader may have been good for another country does not mean that the present Tory party’s policies are good for the country now in the present. The cuts the coalition has made so far hit the people at the bottom of the social pile first and the hardest. Rather than cutting the bonuses that banks and the BBC are allowed to give to present and former, ineffectual and disgraced chiefs, the government would prefer to cut benefits to those worst off, or make people in council housing pay more rent by giving them less housing benefit if they are deemed to have too many bedrooms. They would prefer to pay several billion pounds on a high-speed rail network (‘HS2’) that is not needed and would only benefit a select few, and make it easier for big businesses to pay no tax through loopholes in the law than  give help to those millions of families who need it. For someone who has only ever seen the privileged, middle-class side of the UK and has only spent time with middle class individuals from the ‘Oxford Bubble’, the cuts by the government may seem to have no relevance or may not matter, but I can personally see the effect that such stupid policies have in an area such as Stoke-on-Trent. Which leads me on to the second point that I detailed at the beginning of this post.

As previous posts have alluded to, I have studied at Oxford, but come from a working class background in a dead city. It is frustrating that as a write this, I am currently without a job and my family is scraping by on several forms of benefit. I am not proud of this, and as I have said before, my partner and myself aim to make the most of our life for the sake of our own happiness and for our children’s future- we want to return to university at Oxford, and then write, lecture and be successful sociologists  and priests (my partner); archaeologists and poets (myself). However that is the state at present, and the current government are making the situation worse for us. Now, in posting the views regarding the Tories as mentioned above, and by ignoring the effect their policies are having on those less well off in society, I cannot help but feel as though my friend shares the Conservative view of people of benefits and those at the bottom of the heap. Am I in a situation of my own making? Should I have to carry out community service for every penny of my Jobseekers, which I could end up doing, instead of carrying out volunteer work at excavations to gain important skills that could give me the experience that allows me to apply for the jobs that I hope to do? I cannot help but feel that this is how they silently view me; as a chav with kids who’s arsing around instead of working, or as a scrounger who should help myself instead of being helped. Perhaps I shouldn’t have even been to Oxford, coming from a working class area. Here, I could start with the Labour propaganda, as it is thanks to them and their introduction of Student Loans that I was able to go to uni; in much the same way as the Facebook comments suggested Thatcher should be lauded for making it possible to reach the University of Oxford from Eastern Europe.* However, I had hoped that my friends knew my family and I better; taking us for who we are and not what the government may say we are. It saddens me, and frankly hurts.

I do not have a problem with people holding different views to mine, whether this be political or religious. I just don’t like it when it is ill-thought out and personally insulting. Anyhoo- feel free to comment on here or on the Electric Puppet Facebook page. I would love your input.

Thatcher cartoon

Image: Shooty/Caglecartoons.com

* I could also add that Labour’s Student Loans made it possible for foreign Tories to study here… but I won’t.

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