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18.07.2015
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If pressed to name the most important literary figure in my life, I’d quite happily dismiss Dickens and scoff at Shakespeare.
Sue Townsend was working on a new Adrian Mole novel when she died, with the working title of Pandora’s Box.
After writing in secret for 20 years while working as a factory worker, shop assistant and youth worker, she eventually joined a writers' group at the Phoenix Theatre in Leicester when she was in her 30s. I was racked with sexuality but it wore off when I helped my father put manure on our rose bed. It’s provincial poet Adrian Albert Mole who’s been my most dependable companion.Moley celebrates 30 years since the publication of his first diary this year. This is what comes from living in a cul de sac''After hearing the disgusting noises from downstairs last night, I have also vowed never to drink alcohol''Pandora! To mark the occasion his creator Sue Townsend’s publishers are reissuing the entire Mole series, giving readers old and new a chance to marvel at the indignities thrown upon the bard of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, which range from losing a true love to his mother’s toyboy to being victimised by a sociopathic swan named Gielgud.And although the new set of books – featuring a few new extras about Adrian’s life and an introduction by fan David Walliams – look smart, I think I’ll stick to rereading my battered old, mixed-up set of hardbacks and tatty paperbacks of varying editions.


Indeed, I still have my copy of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13?, which I read for the first time, aged 11?. Three years after The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13?'s publication at the end of 1982, came both a second volume - The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole - and an ITV adaptation. To me, it seemed inevitable that nerdy, spotty, naive Adrian would end up with the beautiful, smart Pandora Braithwaite.
I didn’t get the gags about Frank Bough either.I quickly devoured the next three and waited eagerly for the early New Labour-era Cappuccino Years to be released in 1999. She had a heart attack in her 30s and suffered from diabetes for many years, leaving her registered blind in 2001 and forced to resort to dictating her work. Moments from the books pop into my thoughts whenever I encounter everyday things like Newport Pagnell, The Archers and the roof of St Pancras station. My life hasn’t been much like Adrian’s, thank goodness, but his perseverance in the face of inadequacy is an inspirational to all of us provincial divs.It’s not just Adrian’s life that makes the diaries worth rereading. I loved her dearly, as did most people who were lucky enough to encounter her in their lives.
Nor have many British novelists captured the disappointment of the Blair years quite as adroitly as 2004’s Adrian Mole and The Weapons of Mass Destruction in which the folly of Iraq is told through the death of Adrian’s son’s best friend.


In 2001, BBC Two decided it was time to check back in with the character for Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years.
It’s one of two moments in the Mole series that has brought me to tears.By the time of the latest (if not necessarily last) book, The Prostrate Years, life had taken its toll on Adrian and his creator. Townsend’s health problems were reflected in Adrian’s prostate cancer – something that didn’t lighten the indignities poured upon him, but, still, made his minor triumphs all the more inspiring. It’d be terrible if there wasn’t.Mole may have entered the world before I was born, but it’s been a pleasure to grow up with him. As such, when I was sent a copy of the reissued first diary there was only one thing I could think to do with it – pass it on to my 11-year-old nephew. One of the warmest, funniest and wisest people I ever met." Writer Caitlin Moran said she was "One of the funniest women who ever lived".




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