More satirical diaries of a persistently pathetic English everyman pitches brickbats and sourballs at Tony Blair, Princess Di worshippers, TV cooking shows, celibacy, and the ever increasing bunch of village idiots and ne’er-do-wells in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
Back in 1982, long before Bridget Jones turned feckless romance and menstrual cramps into bestselling silliness, playwright and comic novelist Townsend introduced The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged, 13 3/4. Over the years, the precocious adolescent who wrote bad poetry and made hilariously misinformed comments about his dysfunctional family, has grown—though not necessarily up. This sixth installment covers Adrian’s misadventures, with sarcastic side glances at national events, from March 1997 to May 1998, and opens with 31-year-old Adrian, author of an unpublished novel, employed as a chef at the Hoi Polloi, a fashionable Soho restaurant that serves such ineptly prepared “traditional” English fare as overcooked frozen liver and runny Yorkshire pudding (from the kitchen, Adrian glimpses Bridget Jones grimacing over dinner). His Nigerian wife Jo Jo has fled back to Africa while their three-year-old offspring, William, stays with Adrian’s father, George, who is chronically depressed because he can’t get it up anymore, and mother, Pauline, who is having an affair with Ivan Braithwaite, the father of Adrian’s first girlfriend, the voluptuous Dr. Pandora Braithwaite, who is also Adrian’s first and, so far, unrequited love. The diaries open with Adrian’s cautious surprise at Tony Blair’s election, for who should ride in on Blair’s coattails as the new MP for Ashby-de-la-Zouch? Adrian contemplates celibacy, makes a short-lived TV cooking show called Offally Good!, Princess Di is killed in a car crash, Adrian’s father has an affair with Ivan Braithwaite’s wife, the Hoi Polloi is closed when foot fungus is found in a sink and, incredibly, Pandora and Adrian wind up in bed.
Some of Townsend’s veddy British jokes don’t cross the Atlantic, but those that do are funny, frivolous, and devastatingly dead-on.