Two books that don’t really go together, but they’re the last ones I read in May or started in May and finished in June, and weren’t on the subject of Iceland. So, unlikely pair they might be, but everything can’t be arranged neatly!
Paul Magrs – “The Diary of a Dr Who Addict”
(08 Dec 2013 – BookCrossing Birmingham Secret Santa present)
In this delightful novel written for Young Adults but perfectly readable by the rest of us, we follow some time in the life of David, growing up in the North-Eastern England town of Newton Aycliffe in the 1980s – as did the author – and getting used to a new family structure with a new, American stepdad and his mum, the fabulous Jacqui, an ally for a time in this new and unsettling period of David’s life, especially as she has a room full of sci fi and gets properly interested in David’s obsession, Dr Who.
It’s the time when Peter Davidson started on the show, which adds a lovely nostalgic touch, and it really captures the excitement of sitting down to watch the new series as a young almost-teen. David finds, however, that his best friend, Robert, is not as keen as he used to be, and in fact is starting to look down on it, as well as starting to criticise David for being both too mainstream (compared to him and his somewhat marvellous sister – the women characters in this book, as with all of Magrs’ novels, are super) and too ‘puffy’.
Will David have the courage to take his own path? Is it easier being friends with girls? (Not particularly, it turns out.) What will happen to the family as Jacqui gets frailer and starts to sleepwalk? Some lovely set pieces, plenty of that Magrs standby, precincts (precinct is to Magrs what the tabard is to Victoria Wood, the classic word – do any authors you love have a standard word that will summon them up in a couple of syllables?), an engaging central character and an ending that hints at new beginnings. Lovely.
John Sergeant – “Give me Ten Seconds”
(28 December 2013 – BookCrossing meetup)
The instruction in the title turns out to be a request for a warning when he’s about to run out of time, which is interesting. A slightly older book, this autobiography covers his early life and BBC years, up until the time when he moved to ITN (so we don’t get any of the Strictly stuff). It’s engagingly written, settling a few scores and taking us behind the scenes for an insight into political characters as well as the machinations of the BBC.
The background to political events such as the Falklands war and power struggles in the Conservative and Labour parties was interesting, and I was amused to note that the BBC was accused of giving undue coverage to the rise of the SDP / Liberal Democrats in the 80s, given that the same is being said with regard to UKIP nowadays. The book is dated, which is a shame, but still a good read.