Utterly Ridiculous by Philip Moore
|Utterly Ridiculous by Philip Moore|
|Reviewer: Paul Harrop|
|Summary: Slapstick shenanigans and harmless hi-jinks around the airfields of England.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: October 2007|
If I learned nothing else from this book, I now know of a new profession: aircraft cleaner. For that is the trade of Dave, the hero of Utterly Ridiculous. With little but a van and his torpid terrier Biggles, Dave roves the airstrips of southern England, titivating light aircraft.
The book is a series of loosely connected stories, each describing a procession of more or less farcical events. And if the author Philip L Moore doesn't quite do for aircraft cleaning what James Herriott did for country vets, he has a spirited go.
Abetted by his feckless nephew Doug, Dave attempts to earn an honest living while tangling with Russian stunt fliers, dodgy proprietors, his ex-wife, transsexual pilots and, occasionally, the law. One episode is even set in prison, where Dave languishes for contempt of court.
The stories abound with mishap. In the spirit of Benny Hill, several involve clothes being torn comically off. Being set on airfields, the book offers plentiful airborne high-kinks, crash landings and aerobatic thrills. This edition is a toned-down version to make it suitable for younger readers. Even so, there is no shortage of improbably willing young ladies eager to expose their assets or seduce Dave.
From the above, you may detect a whiff of male wish-fulfilment about several of the stories. Such is the unpretentious manner of their telling though, I can't imagine many readers taking offence, even at the franker and more adult passages. A few tales involve sudden death or injury. But these are told with such matter-of-factness that they are robbed of any horror.
The best passages are the shots of simple visual humour – like when Dave wakes up, stretches, and puts his arms straight though the roof of the caravan in which he lives. Or there is the imaginative scene where Biggles tangles with a feline bully. This almost makes up for the re-telling of the old, old joke about the kiddy who thinks her mother is dying because she's overheard her cry Christ, I'm coming.
With a title like Utterly Ridiculous, the book is disarmingly honest about its style, tone and intention. If he perhaps overdoes the exclamation marks, Moore nevertheless relates Dave's escapades with a spirit of enthusiasm, energetic and likeable, with a healthy disrespect for authority and a streak of down-to-earth decency.
This often lands his hero in trouble, but you sense he has right on his side. With its cast of larger-than-life characters, its litany of scrapes, scraps and screwing, Utterly Ridiculous is an endearingly throwaway read, and testament to peculiarly British have-a-go gusto.
You can read more book reviews or buy Utterly Ridiculous by Philip Moore at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Utterly Ridiculous by Philip Moore at Amazon.com.
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