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Wednesday April 30th 1997
I take up my pen once again to record a momentous time in the affairs of men (and, thank God, because this is intended to be a secret diary, I am not required to add 'and women').
The day after tomorrow on May 2nd, as dawn breaks, I predict that the Labour Party will just scrape in, and will form the next government. Talk of a landslide victory is hysterical rubbish whipped up by the media.
My own prediction is based on 'insider' knowledge. The insider is an actor called Fred Gipton who was in An Inspector Calls with Tony Booth, the father-in-law of our future Prime Minister. Gipton spilled the beans in Hoi Polloi, the restaurant where I work, after two bottles of Jacob's Creek, a Pernod and a vodka sorbet. After begging me to keep 'shtum' he told me that he had heard, via a tortuous grapevine, that Mr Blair expected to win with a tiny majority. Three was mentioned. He also told me that Mr Blair wears a wig, but I have freeze-framed a News At Ten video of him alighting from a helicopter on to a school playing-field and I am satisfied that no wig could stand up to the air turbulence caused by the chopper blades. Tony wears his own hair, it is certainement.
So, every vote counts, which is why I will drive up to Ashby-de-la-Zouch tonight after I finish my shift in the restaurant. When I told Savage that I would need to take a day off in order to vote, he went into a tirade about the foolishness of giving 'hoi polloi' the vote. 'If I ruled the f------ country,' he said (I cannot bring myself to write f------), 'I'd restrict the vote to men over forty-five years of age, and I'd narrow it down to those who earned over seventy K a year.'
'You wouldn't allow women to vote?' I checked.
'No, I f------ well wouldn't,' he raged. 'They're all f------ mad. If they've not got PMT they've got HRT or VPL.'
I pointed out to him that VPL stands for visible panty line, but he was, as usual, beyond reason. When he began to recount the crimes and misdemeanours of his estranged wife, Kim, I went into the kitchen and made onion gravy for the toad-in-the-hole.
After he calmed down a bit I approached him again. 'Mr Savage,' I said, 'I have not had a day off for six weeks.'
'How do you intend to vote?' he asked, challengingly.
I resented him asking, but I replied, 'Labour.'
'Then no f------ way, Jose,' he shouted, pushing a highball glass under the rum optic, and keeping it there until the glass was half full (or half empty, depending on your personality type). He drank deeply from it, as though the contents were Ribena.
'Why should I lose a valuable member of staff on one of the busiest days of the year and help that shirtlifter Blair get elected?' He coughed, lighting one of his filthy French cigarettes. I pointed out to him that Mr Blair is far from being a poorer, and has, in fact, fathered a trio of children. Savage gave a horrible phlegmy laugh, during which he crossed his legs (he suffers from stress incontinence). He took me to the front door of the restaurant, pointed at the Hot Rods shop opposite. Rod himself was in the shop window, arranging some studded leather underpants on a collection of tiered display plinths. 'Now that's a shop for poofters, am I right, Mole?' he said, breathing rum fumes in my face.
'The shop specializes in clothes and equipment for gay men,' I conceded.
'And are none of Rod's customers happily married?' he asked, dropping his voice theatrically.
I said, with heavy irony, 'So, Mr Blair's marriage is a sham and his children are nothing but ciphers conceived in the bed of cynicism, so that one day he will deceive the British people into voting for him, thinking him to be a heterosexual socialist, whereas ...'
'Mark my words, Mole, Blair is a "friend of Rod's" if ever I f------ saw one, and he's no f------ socialist either.'
I began to cook the cabbages for dinner. Savage liked them to boil for at least half an hour. My work as a chef has been a doddle since Savage instituted his Traditional English, No Choice menu. Tonight's repast is:
Heinz tomato soup
(with white bread floaters)
* * *
Grey lamb chops
Boiled cabbage avec Dan Quayle potatoes
Dark brown onion gravy
* * *
Spotted Dick a la Clinton
Bird's custard (skin £6.00 extra)
* * *
Cheddar Cheese, Cream Crackers Nescafe After Eight Mint
* * *
There are two types of wine--white £46, red £46
* * *
Service charge not included. You are expected to smoke between courses. Pipes and cigars are particularly welcome.
The restaurant is fully booked six weeks ahead. Savage turned Princess Michael of Kent away from the door last night. She was distraught.
The restaurant critic A. A. Gill said in his review in the Sunday Times that Hoi Polloi served execrable nursery food. 'The sausage on my plate could have been a turd: it looked like a turd, it tasted like a turd, it smelled like a turd, it had the texture of a turd. In fact, thinking about it, it probably was a turd.'
Savage has had Gill's review blown up at the Copy Shop and stuck it up in the window, where it draws admiring crowds.
Around about midnight I asked my fellow workers, those who could understand English, if they intended to vote today. Luigi, the maitre d', is a Communist in Italy, but he will be voting Liberal Democrat in Croydon, where he lives. Malcolm, the washer-upper, said he was thinking of voting Conservative, 'because they help the self-employed'. I pointed out to Malcolm that he was only self-employed because Savage refused to pay for a National Insurance stamp and tax, but Malcolm then went on to say that he liked John Major because he (Malcolm) had been fostered by a couple who lived in Huntingdon, Major's constituency. As Malcolm grappled with the Spotted Dick tin in the sink, I asked him about the Conservatives' election pledges.
'They've said they won't put the taxes up,' he said, in his reedy voice.
I said, 'Malcolm, you don't pay tax, remember? You get paid cash in hand. You're off the books, which enables you to draw benefits from the DSS. You get free teeth, free travel to hospital, free everything.'
Malcolm said, 'On the other hand, I might vote Labour.'
Thursday May 1st
Dean Street, Soho, London, to Wisteria Walk, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, in three hours. Not bad considering I kept under the speed limit all the way. On the way down I heard the Labour Party candidate for Ashby, Dr Pandora Braithwaite, talking about the importance of family values on Talk Radio. I was so outraged I almost choked on an Opal Fruit and steered into the fast lane. Talk about hypocrisy!
Pandora has shown open contempt for family life. Her first husband, Julian, was openly, in fact boastfully, gay. And her live-in lover, Jack Cavendish, has been married three times and has ten acknowledged children, three of whom have been in drug rehabilitation units up and down the country. The eldest is still languishing in jail in Turkey. Most of the others seem to be attracted to strange religious sects. Tom, the youngest, is a vicar in Hull.
How Pandora ever got past a Labour Party selection committee is a mystery to me. She smokes at least
Excerpted from Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend Copyright © 1996 by Sue Townsend. Excerpted by permission.
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