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Human Croquet

Kate Atkinson has done it again. For me, anyway. I have to admit that I needed all my little grey cells to keep up with the intricacies of the plot and the abundance of characters. I knew I would love the book when I read: ‘…the marmalade is the colour of tawny amber and melted lions…‘ It has taken me a few weeks to get through it due to:

a) the snow
b) the cold
c) Christmas
d) the snow and the cold and Christmas

I finally finished reading it today after a brisk (and very cold) short walk in the hills to zap the cobwebs and burn off last evening’s alcohol (well, it is Scotland. And it was Hogmanay).

Oh, and in case you haden’t noticed, today’s date is 1.1.11. Or 1.1.11 if you are in the USA.

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Kate Atkinson

I’m not sure what it is that I like so much about Kate Atkinson’s writing. Perhaps it’s because the first of her books I read had Jackson Brodie, a former policeman who resigned and went on to do other things; I must have identified with him in some way. If you have ever been a police officer you will know what I mean, the moment you hand in your warrant card you relinquish a huge amount of power (and, at the time I did it, a degree of social standing). I have heard it said that ‘once a policeman always a policeman’. It isn’t true. What is true, and so personally irritating, is that you are so conditioned to the job you once did that for the rest of your life you are condemned to notice every legal trangression, however big or small. You probably need to have been a police officer to understand that – though I have been told by ex-colleagues who went the full term that their retirement came as a relief and they were more than happy to get out. Also, the police were different then – and I was in my late twenties when I left and hadn’t really grown up.

Somehow, Kate, you got the police thing so right. I would love to know how and why. Please tell me.

The book I am reading is one of her old ones, Human Croquet, first published in 1997.


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