Saturday, 4 June 2011

Give me Eeyore, or Give Me Proust

Chatting to a friend the other day, I commented that I occasionally get into trouble for putting milk in espresso coffee. Apparently you’re not meant to do that. My friend fiercely defended my right to put milk, or indeed anything else that took my fancy, into anything I wished to drink. I was grateful for her support. As it happens I drink espresso not only because the espresso maker I have is one of those that you place directly on the hob and therefore guarantees piping hot coffee, something which cafetiéres and percolators cannot, but also that said espresso maker looks ever so slightly like a dalek.

I was reminded of all the above while perusing the Guardian on-line and yet again coming across someone getting remarkably tetchy about adults reading Harry Potter. This is a bit of a King Charles’ Head with CP Scott’s mob*. They have that curious irritation bordering on real anger about the Harry Potter books which I genuinely do not understand. Some of it seems to be down to snobbery, some of it down to jealousy and a lot down to the fact that adults read them too. And this seems to be the real irritant. But what, pray, is so appallingly wrong with adults reading children’s books? Especially that some extremely fun and interesting writing is currently coming from that corner.

*And with me as a quick glance shows I have written about three blogs on this subject over the last six months

The answer, at least for some people, seems to be a sense of propriety. Adults should not read books intended for some other group. It makes a mockery of the whole terribly serious business of being a reader. After all, how can you hold your head up at the Hay on Wye Literary Festival when your bibliophilic superiority is undermined by someone reading The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (which scores doubly badly as it is not only a YA** book but science fiction as well but which remains one the very few literary responses to the banking crisis that I have come across).

Well the hell with them. I will continue to put milk in my espresso and read what I damn well want to read. It’s just such a terrible shame that I have to assert my right to do so.

**Young Adult as teenagers and children who dislike being called children are now referred to by the publishing industry. As I now have discovered, calling a teenager an old child does not go down well.

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