Saturday, 18 June 2016

This was fun and, though I meant to make it last, I've romped through it at a gallop. I wasn't expecting Toasted English to arrive with its handsome dust-jacket intact - well, it was only 25p - but I think the hardback itself is rather charming, don't you?

It is difficult after the passage of years to recall the precise emotions with which the population of England switched on their radio sets one summer evening in 1945 and prepared to hear that the Tories had won the General Election. It is even harder to enter into the feelings of five British subjects marooned on an island in the inscrutable East awaiting news of the elected governors who were to lead the destinies of the distant nation, to which they hoped - with luck - soon to return ....

Janice said, "They wouldn't nationalize Claridge's, would they?" 

It isn't long before these Robinson Crusoes are rescued, to find that there has been a coup and the new Socialist government has been ousted. England is now a totalitarian regime run on a rigid class system. But nobody seems to be happy. Not even the As - who spend their days visiting their tailors and spending gold sovereigns that nobody else is allowed to use.  Man-about-Town is now a career option.

But the As aren't allowed to play bridge with their middle-class friends who are Bs. And they're fed up living up to domestic standards imposed by their servants who are Cs. It's tough being forced to eat seven courses of bad English food - gravy soup, some boiled turbot, a partridge, a saddle of mutton - when you were happy with a tin of baked beans in the kitchen during the war. The government expects A ladies to do their duty and deliver calves' foot jelly to the Cs - but the Cs won't touch it since they tasted Heinz tomato soup. On the other hand, if you don't obey the rules - and you suspect that the butler is a MI5 nark - then you might be degraded to being a middle-class B, and who'd want that?

Whatever you do, don't express a liking for Picasso ... odds and sods and intellectuals are Es.

 Good fun, in the same vein as Marghanita Laski's earlier comic novel Love on the Supertax.


galant said...

I couldn't resist this, but I've had to shell out more than your 25p, sadly, but still, it's under a tenner. I tried Ladies of Lyndon, but after a few pages I was thoroughly muddled who everyone was, it all seemed a little frenetic, and I've had to put that to one side. I might give it another go sometime - maybe it improves! We can't all like the same books, out there there is something for everyone, maybe this just wasn't for me.
Current reading, non-fiction: Virginia Nicholson's Singled Out, about the 2 million women 'left' after WW1.
Margaret P

mary said...

I think Ladies of Lyndon is very muddling at the beginning,Margaret - I definitely preferred Together and Apart. Having said I'd had enough MK for now, I bought another one this afternoon - Lucy Carmichael - well, I don't think I've come across it before in any charity shop, that's my excuse. Hope you enjoy Toasted English. I was lucky finding it for 25p, in fact you're lucky finding one for under a tenner!
I've been meaning to read SIngled Out for so long ... must get round to it soon.