Thursday, 28 July 2011

Jeffrey Bernard-Low Life

Last night I finished the excellent Inspector van Veeteren novel The Return by Hakan Nesser, reviewed here. An excellent book so I went on the hunt downstairs, looking for something other than a detective book. I'm a recent convert to this genre, tempted into it by Henning Mankell's Wallander books about five or six years ago, and now have to pull myself away sometimes and read other things.

So while searching through our shelves of books I was absolutely overjoyed to find Jeffrey Bernard's Low Life. It is the collected Low Life columns that Bernard wrote for The Spectatator magazine. For years Bernard was the overwehelming reason I subscribed to The Spectator. His style and humour, not to mention his acceptance of his addictions and resultant disabilities made his columns hilarious without ever being mawkish or self-pitying, and his put downs of helpers and lefties alike were legend.

I thought I'd either lost or loaned this book out years ago, and was never to see it again. I was overjoyed to find it again and it was the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning.

A quote on the back of the book from a Times review sums him up:
'Bernard's unswerving dedication to booze, fags, the horses, unsuitable women, overspending and the law courts, have made him the archetypal Terrible Object Lesson, a Knight in Shining Black Armour who spends his life tilting at Windmill Girls on soft going, missing and landing up in bed with the Inland Revenue and a shoe full of Chinese takeaway.'
Treat yourself, it's the perfect book to dip into and, unless political correctness has deprived you of every last drop of your sense of humour, you will love Bernard and his Low Life as much as I and millions of others have over the years.

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