"Nigel says that Sharon Botts will show you everything for 50p and a pound of grapes."
The news of the death of Sue Townsend this morning has upset me deeply. Famous people die, and we commiserate and feel it a shame. And that's it. But I loved Sue Townsend. I thought she was marvellous. I think she would have thought me a berk for thinking that. She always seemed like she wouldn't suffer fools gladly, which was another thing about her I admired. She was one of several woman who had a huge impact on the teenage me, growing up in 80s Britain.
For any of you that aren't familiar with her, Sue Townsend was a British writer, who found fame as the creator of the eponymous Adrian Mole. Adrian kept a diary, and he started it when he was 13 and 3/4. I am a year younger than Adrian, and so his teenage years parallelled mine. I have also kept a diary since I was a teen. Spots, The Falklands War, unrequited love, poetry, underwhelming Christmas presents and general angst were Adrian's trademark. Mine was probably very similar at his age. Apart from The Falklands. I was never as politically motivated as Adrian. My diary contained more Duran Duran and less Margaret Thatcher.
"I have just realised that I have never seen a dead body or a real female nipple.
This is what comes of living in a cul-de-sac."
Although marketed as children's fiction, it still moves me at forty four. I love her acid comedy, her ease at addressing 'difficult' issues and the way that she didn't patronise or talk down to kids. I have often felt that without her there would have been no JK Rowling. Not in this country anyway. I wonder if the parents who put her books into their children's Christmas stockings knew that they contained such strong opinions on the British class system, politics, feminism and losing ones virginity.
"Donkey Dawkins of 5P says that his thing comes off the end of a ruler."
When many of my class mates were reading about Judy Blume's Margaret and her periods, I was reading about Adrian and his love of Pandora Braithwaite. I cried tears of laughter at the poem he penned for her (Pandora, I adore ya!). At thirteen I, too, was a fledgling poet. I had written my best poem to date, and was convinced that I was just waiting to be discovered. So did Adrian. He realised that he was an intellectual at about the same time that I did. Alas for both of us, no-one else recognised it
"I am an intellectual. But at the same time, I'm not very clever."
I still have my Adrian Mole books - The Secret Diary, The Growing Pains, The Cappuccino Years, The Prostate Years. They are dogged eared and cherished. I have read them more times I have read Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre.
If our whole is the sum of our parts, then a little part of me belongs to Sue Townsend.