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Just a little memory

Sharpe went in 1952 to South Africa where he spent the next ten years as a social worker, teacher and photographer. The suffering of people under apartheid radicalised him. A play he wrote about it led to his expulsion from the country. The notebook and tapes in which Verdaguer recorded his life contain more detail about his life in South Africa, where he first jotted down observations that he used in his early works such as Riotous Assembly.

Decades back, I’m working as a waiter in London. South African girl also working there. Chatting away in a slow period, as you do, ask if she’s read Riotous Assembly etc. No,…..ah, they’re by Tom Sharpe, grossly parodic but very funny etc.

Oh, I didn’t know he’d written novels. My parents knew him – actually, he took my baby pictures.

It’s a small world etc.

11 thoughts on “Just a little memory”

  1. Indeed, his SA novels were the best; I wasn’t so impressed with his later ones set in the UK.

    But his biting satire and send up of behaviours and attitudes was certainly acidic and most enjoyable to read.

    Satire is a good way to rile the powers that be. LOL


  2. The Wilt scenes set in Fenlands Tech (?) were truly excellent. One character, one of the other teachers, had some superb lines.

  3. The suffering of people under apartheid radicalised him

    Thankfully we just ignore the suffering of people under black rule.

  4. One notes that he was a fervent Nazi in his early life. Perhaps his liking for national socialism was one of things that led him to support black national socialism in South Africa?

  5. Martin Near The M25

    My English Teacher introduced me to the books in secondary school. Doubt that would happen these days.

    For some reason I quite like the bit in The Throwback where he takes on the Inland Revenue.

  6. When I was an undergraduate, friends asked me why a liberal chap like me didn’t rant on about apartheid. I said I thought apartheid a lousy way to run a country but had every confidence that whatever replaced it would also be a lousy way to run a country.

    Sometimes you just get things right, eh?

  7. His Porterhouse Blue was basically required reading when I was at Cambridge. I was told that the porter at Corpus – a Mr Jaggard – was the one on whom Scullion was modelled.

  8. “Thankfully we just ignore the suffering of people under black rule.”

    In England you mean, Steve?

  9. 40 years on, the caustic-soda filled condom, and resulting cheesegrater usage, still brings tears to the eyes.
    I forget which one, but it was an estate of rented property with tenants on fixed rents…
    Getting rid of tenants is even harder now.

  10. I remember laughing so hard and long I almost choked myself unconscious. And yes, dear God, the old coronel (?) and the cheese grater!

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