The icon doesn’t match the post but after today I shan’t have much use for it so here it is again. I have voted and hope everyone who can, will exercise this right which people have fought for. Ahem, now for the book.
A while ago I wrote about the comedy section of the Guardian list of 1,000 books you should read. I noted that it included Michael Frayn’s Towards the End of the Morning but not his (IMO) funnier book The Tin Men. I picked up a copy of TTEOTM recently and have just read it again. It was first published in 1967 and is set in the old Fleet Street where Frayn himself started his journalistic career in the late 1950s; a time when the great presses still rolled in the same buildings where the copy was written and the type set up. Michael Frayn has written a new introduction for this edition describing all this and the regular drinking haunts and habits of those long-gone journalists.
John Dyson and Bob work in a Dickensian office, filling the paper’s crossword, nature, religious and bygone columns. Dyson, married with children, hopes to get into television. Bob, pursued by women he fears, seems to have no ambition at all. The past goes out when ‘old Eddy Moulton’ actually dies in the office; the future arrives with brash Erskine Morris, a David Frost type. This book has often been compared with Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop and there are many echoes of Waugh’s style. Take the published works of an old bore called Lord Boddy: ‘The Case for Disarmament (1939); Let Victory be Ours (1942); The Russians – Our Comrades! (1945); World Communism: a Study in Tyranny (1949)’ etc. Reminds one of Sir Joseph Mainwaring in Put Out More Flags. There’s no dramatic plotline, no excitement at all, just consistently good writing and subtle jokes. I enjoyed the read but I still think The Tin Men is a much funnier book.