Pocket Books £7.99
The Pheasants' Revolt, By Brian Viner
Sunday 20 April 2008
There are several obstacles to enjoying this account of the Viner family's attempts to settle in rural north Herefordshire after relocating from London's Crouch End. To begin with, there's the ghastly punning title, which looms at you like something nasty from the 1970s. After that there's the first anecdote about "an attractive strawberry blonde of indeterminate years" who turns out to be a scarecrow; a patrician little tale that reminds readers how "Best Scarecrow competitions... or Dog with the Waggiest Tail competitions, are taken with deadly seriousness in the country". Finally, there's the grasping zaniness. Chapter two starts: "Whether the doctor and nurses had caught a whiff of my aloe-scented scrotum or not, I must say that when I started writing this book, I didn't expect to embark quite so soon on the story of my snip in Llandrindod Wells."
If these things don't put you off you may, like Michael Palin (quoted on the back), find there's "not a single dull page". On the other hand, you may wonder if Mr Palin was talking about the brightness of the paper.
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