my heart, my heart, stop beating so...
Welcome back Fox. You have been missed, and in case you hadn't noticed, there's an election brewing.
Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
I picked up a copy of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" at my mum and dad's at the weekend and zoomed through it in about ten minutes. It's a pretty simple story: three farmers get sick of having their livestock pinched by a fox, and so attempt to kill him and his family: first with a shotgun, then by digging him out, then by trying to starve him out (strangely they didn't try chasing after him on horseback with a pack of hounds - apparently the most efficient way of keeping the fox population under control). Naturally, Mr. Fox outsmarts them all and comes out on top.
You can read it as an allegory of nature winning out over technology, if you so desire, but that's not what makes this a classic, and it certainly isn't what hooks the kids (or me, for that matter).
Roald Dahl was a genius, and what makes him a genius is that he knew that kids are vicious, dirty little brutes and are only interested in blood, muck and guts. Examples of this are all over his books - the repulsive kids accompanying Charlie around the Chocolate Factory, the other giants in the BFG, the Twits.... and so on. In this particular story, Mr. Fox has his tail blown off by a shotgun pretty early in the story, leaving only a bloody stump, and the three farmers are delighfully vile:
"Boggis and Bunce and Bean
One fat, one short, one lean.
These horrible crooks
So different in looks
Were nonetheless equally mean."
Dahl revels in making the farmers as revolting as he can, and in sparing his readers none of the details: he tells us that Bunce eats only doughnuts stuffed with mashed goose livers and we learn that Bean has some trouble hearing because he never washes, and his ears were full of "all kinds of muck and wax and bits of chewing gum and dead flies and stuff like that".
I'm currently almost halfway through "The Invention of Solitude" by Paul Auster, but I'm beginning to realise that life's too short, and I'm going to see if I still have my copy of the BFG lying around. Now don't get me wrong - Auster is a great author, but he's no Dahl, is he?
So, the Catholic Church doesn't believe in euthanasia. Have I got that right?
Check. In my defence, I am unlikely to get into town before Saturday, and when I do, I am likely to go to Selectadisc or FOPP, and only go into HMV if it's an emergency. As for convincing C. it's a worthwhile investment... well, I try.
The 50-quid bloke is a big user of the web
He shops at Amazon as well as the high street
Well... yes. But not just at Amazon.
He loathes Pop Idol, telling the kids it devalues everything rock music stands for
Hm. I loathe the manufactured tripe that this kind of show produces. Does that count? And kids? [shudders]
When I got back home after New Year, I had a little card from the House of Commons through my door telling me that Mr. Clarke had received my letter and would be replying in due course. February rolled around, and I was becoming a little sceptical. Until I got home tonight and found a lovely House of Commons envelope on my doormat with a lovely typed letter inside.