Janet Fisher Getting up at hall-past six

I drove ott tor Dewsbury in the log having had two slices ol toast and ditliculty getting my child to nursery. Negotiating the middle lane in an

ever increasing sense ol insecurity

I was hemmed in by an articulated lorry carrying car axles irom Dusseldort to Newcastle,

causing me unfortunater to miss my junction

so that, abandoned in a stream of trailic,

I hopelully llashed my lights at the XHS in tront and,

he having relumed my signal, drew in at the nearest service station.

Needing a shoulder to cry on l sat with him

on a grassy bank overlooking the Happy Eater and when

he put his hand up my skirt and nibbled my ear

lite had never been sweeter.

Having renegotiated the carriageway upon

which as it happened traffic was now thinning out

llound It by a judicious use at the accelerator

possible to get to work only 3 twenty-seven minutes late.

i From the Virago Book at Wicked Verse (Virago £7.99), a sparkling, scathing, ; scintillating stocking-tiller oi shameless

stanzas by women poets from Sappho to Stevie Smith.

TWO SMALL. Gu-zssas o’ LEMONADE. m:— sanN’As Howmenz’s A LOT 0' was: ems


From Lobey's the Wee Boy, compiled by Hanald MacColl (Mainstream £4.99), live Lobey Dosser adventures by the legendary cartoonist Bud Neill, tollowing the Glasgow-bom Sheritt

//V M 09m 00m MLOO/V

The last of England

Tom Lappin talks to gentleman-comic Stephen Fry about his weighty new volume of journalistic titbits.

It isn’t readily apparent up here, but down south there’s something of a cultural rearguard action being fought against a creeping tide of Americanisation and shallow modernism, as an essentially bourgeois cadre struggles against the destruction of old-fashioned Englishness.

Manning the artistic barricades are the likes of Alan Bennett, Morrissey and Stephen Fry, longing for the days when there was cricket on the village green, Latin prep to finish before supper, and ghetto-blasters hadn’t been invented. Fry particularly, despite his high-profile support of the Labour Party at the last election, his support for many a progressive liberal cause, and his (albeit celibate) homosexuality, has a nostalgia for Olde England that would rival any rural reactionary’s.

‘I can‘t deny it and it’s more than slightly sentimental,‘ he says. ‘People who live in dominated cultures like Scotland or Wales or Ireland can’t really conceive of this but they’re allowed to be sentimental about their cultural identity, whereas for an Englishman it does seem embarrassingly jingoistic, it sounds right wing. For a Scots chap to get slightly dewy-eyed about his heritage and language is justifiable, but not so for an Englishman.‘

This is one of the pervading themes i

running through Paperweight, a collection of Fry‘s radio talks, columns for The Listener and the Telegraph and assorted ephemera. In his writing, and in many of the

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comedy sketches he performs with Hugh Laurie, Fry reveals an obsession with the intricacies of language, to the extent that he occasionally gets so wrapped up in the wordplay that he neglects to include a point or punchline.

‘For a Scots chap to get slightly dewy-eyed about his heritage and language is justifiable, but not so loran Englishman.’

‘There are some aspects of English language and culture that I‘m very

protective of,’ he admits. ‘Perhaps , it‘s a result of being half-Jewish or i my sexual identity or something

' being naturally an outsider you

therefore have two choices: either

Stephen Fry as Jeeves with Hugh Laurie as Wooster

become a rebel who dresses like Trotsky and pick your nose in public, or you throw yourself into your dominant culture completely.‘

Fry chose the latter, although he emphasises there‘s a difference between affection for the trappings of the establishment, and an acceptance of their moral code. ‘There’s a line of Alan Bennett’s when he was writing Forty Years On. He was looking out the window into Regent’s Park and saw a military band practising a march-past for some Trooping of the Colour and he

said “I find the whole spectacle

! ridiculous and degrading. but at the j same time there‘s a small lump that ; comes into my throat." I often find myselftrying to resolve those two

i reactions.’

Paperweight is published by Heinemann at£14.99.

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Calton Creek as he does what a man has to do around the Wild West, managing to squeeze in innumerable gloriously awlulpuns.

Tthist4— 17 5926?