April 30th, 2011


April Books 31) Lady Chatterley's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

One of those famous books which I had never actually read - I did leaf through Hunt Emerson's graphic novel adaptation a few years back but wasn't really engaged, and actually my memory is that he gets one very important part of the story completely wrong, which is that Sir Clifford Chatterley is only a few years older than the young Lady Chatterley.

It is a good book - Constance, stuck in a hasty marriage with a man who has been disabled in the war, finds lust and then love with Mellors, the gamekeeper; she basically grows out of the role that society (embodied in her sister rather then her father, who is somewhat subversive for a knight of the realm) and heads for what is practically a happy ending. The world has moved on from the 1920s, of course, and it's largely a social parable of its time, but memorable for all that. I was impressed that Constance had had a number of lovers before Mellors came along; I was also struck by Lawrence's rather negative portrayal of the Irish characters (all Trinity graduates, no doubt).

It seems a bit weird from the viewpoint of 2011 to think that this book was once considered too obscene to publish in the United Kingdom and various other jurisdictions. The jarring use of language for today's reader is actually not the explicit sex but Mellors' conscious affectation of Derbyshire dialect; I think attitudes towards speech patterns have now changed to the extent that this would seem patronising both from the author and from the character in a book published today. The obscenities can be found in any bookshop, or many corners of the internet, and are not really shocking at all.

Anyway, glad I finally read this at last.

April Books 32) More Short Trips, edited by Stephen Cole

Another of the late 1990s BBC anthologies of short stories about the first eight Doctors. Standouts for me: "64 Carlisle Street", by Gary Russell, featuring the First Doctor, Steven and Dodo; "Special Weapons", by Paul Leonard, with Mel and the Seventh Doctor; and "Good Companions" by Peter Anghelides, featuring Tegan and a future Doctor with red hair. Wooden spoon to Gareth Roberts, whose "Return of the Spiders" with the Fourth Doctor, K9 and Romana is really awful; Roberts can do much better than this and usually does.

Taxi conversation

Me: The city's changed a fair bit in the last thirty years.

Driver: It surely has. (Indicates the junction of Ormeau Road and Donegall Pass.) See them traffic lights? In 1973 I rammed through them lights and slammed on the brakes, because there was two men pointing a gun at my head. They called me up from the depot at [St] George's Market, cause they knew they'd get a Catholic taxi driver that way, and then they pointed a gun at my head and told me to take them to Sandy Row for my 'last drink'. But I slammed on the brakes - lucky I had a seat belt, not every car had one back then - and the lad with the gun went through the windscreen, and his mate in the back got out the car and they both legged it, leaving the gun just lying there in the middle of the road. I never heard nothing back from the police, I don't believe they ever investigated it.

Me (somewhat gobsmacked): And you kept up driving taxis ever since?

Driver: No, after that I couldn't do it any more; my nerves couldn't take it. I only started on the taxis again five years ago, I was driving lorries for years. But it's a lonely life, and I was smoking too many cigarettes cos there's nothing else to do in the cab of the lorry all day. That'll be £5.20, sir, enjoy the weather, looks like it's a smashing day.

April Books 33) Deadly Download, by Jason Arnopp

I'm glad to see that despite the sad loss of Elisabeth Sladen there remains a certain amount of Sarah Jane material for me to absorb, even before the BBC decide what to do with the already filmed material for the fifth series. This is a cracking good yarn, told (like all the SJA audios) by Sladen as SJS in the first person, about an alien menace which controls people by persuading them to download it. That basically tells you all you need to know; a neat little parable for our times, with decent character time for both Sarah and Luke (less so for Clyde and Rani), nicely produced and generally satisfactory.