May Week Was in June (Unreliable Memoirs Continued) by Clive James - review by Wallace Arnold

Wallace Arnold

The Nose with a Luminous Dong

May Week Was in June (Unreliable Memoirs Continued)

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THOUGH ESSENTIALLY un homme sérieux, I have, as is widely known, from time to time engaged myself in the act of humorous composition. The light-hearted essay containing the jocular (and occasionally waspish!) aperçu has long been a forte of mine, and the list of my contributions to Punch magazine in my Who's Who entry - 'The Lighter Side of Spring-Cleaning' (May, 1969), 'lf lt's Wednesday, It Must Be Margate!' (April, 1964), 'Broom! Clunk! - A Sideways Look at Car Maintenance' (August, 1959), 'Pardon My Swahili- Wallace Arnold Goes On His Hols' (August, 1974), 'The Unfairer Sex- All You Never Wanted To Know About Birds of The World!' (Christmas Number 1971), 'Never Again! -Wallace Arnold Tries His Hand At The Bobsleigh' (September, 1982), 'Excuse My Ear-Muffs- A Sane View of Today's Pop "Music"' (January, 1968), 'Names That Make Me Chuckle' (weekly series, June 1966-March 1983) - reads like a veritable compendium of postwar English (very English!) humour. During all this time as the doyenne of comic writers, I have, freely admit, never found myself averse to taking the occasional 'crack' at the British Trades Union Movement. As early as 1962, I had invented the marvellously ridiculous - yet in a way oddly touching- figure of Len Grunt, Convenor of the Allied Union of Loafers, Grumblers and Slugabeds, a character who swiftly found his place in that pantheon of richly stuff! )? Who knows, he might have enjoyed a reputation as comic, thoroughly English figures in our national literature which also includes the immortal Mr Pooter and the immortal Mrs Pooter to name but one.

Mr Len Grunt(!), I need hardly remind readers of The Literary Review, was the archetypal Trades Unionist: uncultured, grubby, stubborn and hopelessly unrealistic, with something of a passion for champagne. Excellent! I daresay my wonder, though, if this really matters one jot? Many of my wicked lampoon caused a rich

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