Send in the Clones
13 November 2002
From the Dept of Marketing Mistakes: I've just walked into Safeways, to be greeted by Darth Vader trying to sell me the DVD of a truly bad movie. Unfortunately, this Darth Vader was about five foot eight in his plastic boots and helmet; the helmet did amplify his voice, but it couldn't transpose it, and he spoke with quite an appealing light tenor, the poor boy. Miscasting just wasn't the word. Or maybe it was, actually, come to think of it... Anyway, he was persistent as well as miscast, so I took a breath and began to tell him just how awful 'Send in the Clones' actually was; and had barely got started when he offered his only defence, which was that it's better than its predecessor. Which is, of course, true - but lordie, what a truly depressing claim that is...
And so home, where I'm nursing a virus in front of the fire and reading 'Maxwell's Match' by M J Trow. It's a crime novel, about a comprehensive teacher transported into a private school just in time for murders to happen all around him; and it's another depressing experience, glib and smug of voice and intensely irritating. Here's a quote:
"Earlier generations of kids and most of the staff called Bert Martin 'Doc' after the boots. Maxwell called him 'Betty' after 'All my Eye of a Yarn and Betty Martin', but since he knew the Latin original and its meaning, everybody, including Bert Martin, thought it best to let it go."
I have no idea what this means, and neither does Google. 'All my eye and Betty Martin' is a phrase that means a lie; the presumptive implication here is that the full phrase he gives must be an English transliteration of a Latin tag. Maxwell may very well know that, but I do not; and when it comes to a writer boasting about his character's and therefore his own knowledge without deigning to share that knowledge with his readers - well, maybe it's time for that writer to step into the library with a glass of malt and his old service revolver, or literary equivalent. This is not my notion of the novelist's art.
Or perhaps I'm being ungenerous? It's all this aching and shivering, it can do that to a man. Not to mention missing my Chinese lesson, that grieves me more than life itself, and that's a lot of grief.
© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.