Saturday, May 03, 2003

"Hurry up and die, you old bugger!"

There's an apocryphal tale doing the rounds about a stage version of Anne Frank's diary. It was so long winded, so badly acted, so downright boring that the stalls were shouting "She's in the loft!" during the second act whenever someone in a Nazi uniform appeared. The trouble is, I've got the same problem with my reading habits. Only without the Nazis.

I like a nice biography. It's good to read a book about the great and good of the world and how they got their names so well known. I've also got a thing about polar exploration, so I've read fine biographies of Shackleton, Scott, Amundsen and that fraud Peary who never made it to the North Pole no matter what you read in an atlas. All of these men died young, usually somewhere freezing, leading to rather neat, concise books.

Which is more than can be said for Fridjoft Nansen, father of polar exploration. He may have been the first man to cross Greenland, he may have made the first truly serious attempt at the North Pole, but he achieved all of these things in the first half of his seventy years. The result was that all the best stuff was in the first coplue of hundred pages, with another three hundred about his life in Norwegian politics. Fridjoft, me old son, you were a true hero, but even I was crying out for a fatal heart attack by page 650 and your fourth job on the League of Nations.

However, I read that book about Thatcher, and for all my cries of "Hurry up and die, you old cow!", she still resolutely refuses to turn up her toes. Bitch.

The Scaryduck Archive

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