“I shall never laugh but in that maid’s company”

Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 1, Scene 4

William Shakespeare

A massive THANK YOU to everyone who’s been reading and following and liking and commenting recently 🙂 I hit 2000 views last week, and although I know that isn’t a lot to most bloggers, I’m super excited about it! So thanks guys – hope you’ve enjoyed reading these ramblings…

Let’s move on, before I get all embarrassingly gooey and emotional, to the main part of this post: humour books, of which I got a whole bunch for Christmas, starting with…

  • ‘Is It Just Me?’ by Miranda Hart – This topped the bestseller hardback charts for aaagggges, allImage through the Christmas period, showing just how successful Miranda’s trademark clumsy, awkward style has become. Now, I am a massive fan of the show. I even went to see Episode Six of Series Three (the latest one) being filmed. But if you find her clutzy, hyper, talking-to-the-camera thing annoying, step away from this book! If you’re not quite sure who Miranda is, or have only seen her on ‘Call the Midwife’, here’s the online blurb to give you a little taste of what her style is like:

“Well hello to you dear browser. Now I have your attention it would be rude if I didn’t tell you a little about my literary feast. So, here is the thing: is it just me or does anyone else find that adulthood offers no refuge from the unexpected horrors, peculiar lack of physical coordination and sometimes unexplained nudity, that accompanied childhood and adolescence?

Does everybody struggle with the hazards that accompany, say, sitting elegantly on a bar stool; using chopsticks; pretending to understand the bank crisis; pedicures – surely it’s plain wrong for a stranger to fondle your feet? Or is it just me?

I am proud to say I have a wealth of awkward experiences – from school days to life as an office temp – and here I offer my 18-year-old self (and I hope you too dear reader) some much needed caution and guidance on how to navigate life’s rocky path.

Because frankly where is the manual? The much needed manual to life. Well, fret not, for this is my attempt at one and let’s call it, because it’s fun, a Miran-ual. I thank you.”

And yes, to some people, that can get pretty annoying, pretty quickly. However, if you too find Miranda’s sitcom hilarious, you should enjoy the book; the intimacy which she creates by speaking to camera is mirrored in her language, as she calls the reader ‘My Dear Reader Chum’ (MDRC for short) and carries on conversations with her eighteen-year old self who, to someone almost eighteen at least, sounds ridiculously childish. But then again, maybe I am ridiculously childish and just don’t realise it (see my Shakespeare duck for proof of this theory). Maybe in thirty years time, I’ll look back on this post and chuckle softly to myself at my supposed ‘maturity’, shake my head amusedly, and think “You have absolutely no idea, little Alice…”

…And then again maybe not. Anyway, back to the book. I basically found it fun to read, but not always laugh-out-loud-hilarious. To be honest, I found the answer to ‘Is it just me?’ was all too often ‘Yes. Yes, Miranda, it is just you.’  The anecdotes that accompany the Miranda-specific problems are still funny, but just not as entertaining as those you immediately identify with, like her Diet Book.

“Chapter One – Eat less. Chapter Two – Move more. The End.”

That is the sort of thing that makes this book stand out from the other celebrity autobiographies. Although at times the determined goofiness can seem a little trite, it’s original, silly and often snortingly funny, unlike…

  • ‘Moranthology’ by Caitlin Moran, unfortunately – I love love loved Moran’s first: ‘How to Be a Woman’ and this just wasn’t any near as good. Waaahh, I feel so let down. Although there were some entertaining sections (like the bit on ‘Sherlock’. I love Sherlock. But more on that later…), I felt she dwelt far too Imagemuch on her troubled background for my liking. Not to be mean but after the twentieth ‘oh look at my hilariously weird and wonderful background which I can use both for comedic and serious points, because although it now seems hysterical, it actually raises some very grave issues about the state of society both now and then’ column, it simply left me…bored, if I’m honest. It was just too much of a muchness for my liking. On the plus side, every single piece is superbly written, especially those on Lady Gaga and her in-bed conversations with her husband; I just needed some more variety in ideas and themes to keep it interesting and fresh. I didn’t get the belly-laughs and shoulder-shaking I wanted, more a slight smile as I turned the page, eager to get onto my next book for some proper funny.
  • ‘Mrs Hudson’s Diaries: A View from the Landing at 221B’ by Bob and Barry Cryer – Now, as I’ve said, I am infatuated with both the BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ and Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories, so the promise of more Holmes combined with Barry Cryer’s quick wit,Image which he demonstrates on ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’ every week on BBC Radio 4, got me pretty damn excited. However, again, I was left disappointed, but in an entirely different way; whereas, had I not had such high expectations from Moran, I would probably have thought it was much better, this book just left me…ambivalent. What can I say about it, except that this Oliver Philpot chap who kept turning up was clearly meant to be amusing but was actually ridiculously annoying? There wasn’t nearly enough on Sherlock and Watson, and far too much on random characters invented to be friends to Mrs Hudson and fill out the story. The idea itself had a lot of potential, but this book was neither funny nor serious, neither excellent nor awful, merely average. Saying all this, many of the reviews on Amazon are very complimentary, so maybe I’m being harsh? But whereas I would probably recommend the other two books, I felt this was just a waste of time, as I plodded through it like thick custard, just waiting to get to the sweet, tart humour below, but it never came. So then I was left with just a bowl of custard. (Metaphor gone too far? Yeah, I agree. It stops here, don’t worry).

Wow, this a long post. Sorry guys – I lost half of it and then had to re-write and blahblahblah. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading it anyway! I’m going to see ‘Turn of the Screw’, an adaptation of Henry James’ novella at the Almeida this Friday, so I’ll be sure to report back on that. Currently I’m wading my way through ‘The Coming of the Third Reich’ by Richard Evans to help with my History A-Level, and then I’ve got a short novel lined up, kindly given to me by one of my teachers, but any suggestions for what to read after that would be gratefully received 🙂

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