I had 25 minutes yesterday to write some thoughts on Adrian Mole while backstage in Maidenhead. I have no idea if The Guardian published it. If not, here it is, slightly expanded. There is no great insight. It was hastily written to meet a sudden deadline and I did not have my copies of the books with me.
Two books have made me snort milk out of my nose through apoplectic laughter, both are diaries of deluded, fictional males, and both still provide me with delight when I return to them decades on, The Diary of a Nobody and The Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3/4. I no longer drink milk when reading, for health reasons. I was fortunate that my puberty began when the first Adrian Mole was published and The Smiths formed, here were two great self-regarding narrators that would help through those difficult years of penile panic, acne eruptions and romantic notions that were untroubled by real possibilities. Sue Townsend invaded the minds of teenage boys and revealed the terrors and desires that lay within with startling accuracy.
At the time, in the midst of my own onslaught of hormonal confusion, I was too busy laughing to see the mirror in front of me. (similarly, we all liked to imagine we were Vyvian in The Young Ones when we more often Rik with a lentil smear of Neil). Sue Townsend carried off the trick of writing as a deluded lad who would never have the ability to be a writer, and did so with such wit and yet believability in her character’s frequent witlessness.
The teenager is frequently spoofed, but it takes great empathy to make such an anti-hero so loveable and real. “I saw Malcolm Muggeridge on the television last night, and I understood nearly every word. It all adds up. A bad home, poor diet, not liking punk. I think I will join the library and see what happens.” And so, Adrian declares himself an intellectual. We may all like to have imagined we were Holden Caulfield, but really we were Adrain Mole. I hope no one else tries to revive Adrian Mole, you might be able to hand Sherlock Holmes or James Bond to other authors, but Mole has more humanity than them, and it is a tribute to the humane vision of Sue Townsend that she could create such a character.
I am off touring as usual – Dublin, Newcastle, Leeds, Chorley, Belfast, Guildford, Horsham and on and on and on. I blame the desires of my teenage self for the lunatic path I now tread. Idiot he and idiot I. All tour details HERE
Latest DVD of three hours of gabbling, jumping and mime HERE