Guest Post: The Humour Musketeers and Me by Bodicia

It was wonderful to be asked to write a guest post for Noelle’s lovely blog but what was I to write about? I had a think and my mind wandered to the three men in my life. These men have made me laugh and even made me cry on occasion for the last thirty odd years and I haven’t even been married to any of them. Stand up James Herriot, Tom Sharpe and Bill Bryson.

My relationship with Herriot began many years ago. It started in the school library. The humour section beckoned whilst I was trying to read up on a particularly boring biology test which was booked for the following day. No matter how much I read the text book in front of me nothing was going in and staying there and I had reached the end of my academic capacity for the day. As the library emptied I glanced over to the shelf and sticking out was Herriot’s If Only They Could Talk beckoning seductively in my general direction and telling me to ditch the biology and learn from the master. What’s a girl to do? Over the next few years I absorbed every book he wrote and I can still quote passages from them. I also know that if a cow looks as if it is wearing spectacles then it probably has a copper deficiency. As yet I haven’t had a use for it but never say never…

Tom Sharpe was an accidental encounter in a second hand book shop in a small Suffolk town. Never mind meeting over the tomatoes in the supermarket; that was old hat by then. This was the real thing. His rough edged coverings, his enticing artwork. This was a well-thumbed book which had been loved and now needed some appreciation. I was that woman. He made me laugh, he made me wince, he made me realise humour writing was a well-oiled machine of phrases crafted to build an image just enough to allow the reader to take it one step further in their imagination. From Riotous Assembly to Ancestral Vices I wanted to have written those books. Not for the sales but just for the accomplishment and creativity.

Bill Bryson took me by surprise one day whilst on a packed train to London. I rather wish he hadn’t as I laughed out loud at his nickname and description of his Dover landlady (whose name I don’t feel inclined to repeat here as it is rather rude…) in front of several startled passengers and that was before he started putting warnings on his books. Thank heavens I wasn’t in First Class otherwise they would have chucked me off at Hatfield Peverel and I might still have been there. A least I would have had something to read. His perception of the flaws of the human race and his ability to laugh at himself held an appeal which I still find entertaining as I re-read his books to this day. These days he has taken to writing books which explore various topics such as his excellent A Short History Of Nearly Everything and At Home to name just two but it is his travel memoirs such as Notes From A Small Island, Neither Here, Nor There: Travels In Europe and The Lost Continent: Travels In Small Town America which have made me snort tea through my nose and have kept me going back for more. Of course, the relationship soured somewhat when I realised he had totally bypassed East Anglia on his travels as if we weren’t worth a mention and then had the audacity to move here. Well, honestly!

Bodicia can be found on her website where she writes book reviews, articles and entertains guests. You can also find her on Twitter and Goodreads.

Me2_2Huge thanks to Bodicia for this post! You can find her at A Woman’s Wisdom. Do check out her Tales of the Manor, an outgoing humor series on her blog. You’ll love her wit!



17 thoughts on “Guest Post: The Humour Musketeers and Me by Bodicia”

  1. Love it – I adore Bill Bryson, too! My favourite of his is A Walk In The Woods, but it’s hard to pick one. I used to love his weekly columns in the Mail, many moons ago – I have all his books and they’ve now been compiled into one, but I can’t remember what it’s called (stroll to bookshelves) I’ve been listening to At Home on audio book – brilliant!

  2. Pingback: The Humour Musketeers and Me | A Woman's Wisdom

  3. I love Bill Bryson, too, but I don’t think any writer will make me laugh as much as dear Tom Sharpe (though Malla Duncan’s Fat Chance recently came close!) I was on a train journey, many years ago, when I had just begun reading Wilt. Needless to say, I got some very strange looks from the other passengers as I snorted, giggled, squealed and cried tears laughing at the goings on in that book. Thank you for reminding me.

  4. A brilliant post, and just the cheering up I needed to day. I loved all things James Herriot too and Bill Bryson had his day with me, but alas I don’t think I can remember reading any Tom Sharpe, must have passed me by for some reason, but looks like I should be taking a closer look. Thanks Bodicia and Noelle.

  5. Serendipity had me stumble here, following a link from Luccia Grey and am I glad I did. Alway a joy to find someone after my own heart. Such great picks. From the floater that had him thrown out of that Dover guest house, through the many ways Americans are injured using the sofa to his relationship with Stephen Katz in those woods, I am a Bryson aficionado. However it is his explanation of cricket, or rather cricket commentary when he is Down Under that nearly had me dead with laughter. If you don’t know here’s a link. And then there’s Tom Sharpe. Such a good call: the explosion that destroyed Porterhouse as he sought to be rid of his gross of condoms has to be one of the funniest set pieces ever written. Well that and Wilt and the blow up doll. And Konstabel Els and his fight to the death with the Doberman in, I think, Indecent Exposure. Thank you for tripping the memory banks; I’ll be reading something I wasn’t planning tonight now! I have to admit to not having read Herriot, having only watched the TV series, but they are never as good as the books, are they, so I will have to give them a go.

  6. Loved this post! It brought back warm memories of reading Herriot to my animal-mad children, and much undignified spluttering over Bill Bryson on the train! I always loved the Devon landlady cameo, particularly the bit where Bill longs to yell after Mrs S, when she disapproves of him leaving his fried tomato, “I thought it was a blood clot!” Thanks for reminding me; I just have to dig out ‘Notes from a Small Island’ and read it again now :o)

  7. Great post from Bodicia. I told her I’m a huge Herriot fan, so much so that we vacationed in Yorkshire for ten days, staying on a sheep farm and learning about the dogs used to herd them. We took a detour one day and ended up in the small town where they were filming All Creatures Great and Small for TV and got to meet the actors. Lovely high spot for the vacation.. except that several pictures I took were taken with the cap on the lens!

  8. Laughing out loud at a book on the train always gathers envious stares. We are all trying to read the title and author so we can get it ourselves!

    Of course most people bypass East Anglia. You don’t arrive in Norwich by accident. Thank goodness!! 😀

    1. There is one road and one railway in. We lure them here with talk of ale and historical seasides and then we put them to work on the land…ooh argh *chews on a straw in deep thought* ;-D

  9. I’m in awe at Bryson’s research. I feel sure that he must have a staff of millions to do the fact finding that he does for his books and then his own brand of humour I have to admit if I was a tea drinker, I too, would be snorting the stuff out my nostrils.

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