Nov 03


The Brown Wedge5 comments • 903 views

BEDROOM SECRETS FOR A HAPPY MARRIAGE: Something I really enjoy doing is reading aloud to Isabel – it’s good practise for probably the only aspect of childrearing I’ll be any good at, and it’s fun introducing her to favourites from my bookworm boyhood. Top of the pile right now is the stupendous Uncle by JP Martin, a book about a very fat and hugely wealthy elephant and his battles with a variety of hataz. It’s a book that my memories betrayed a little – I remembered how stinking rich Uncle was constantly battling with workshy povvos dressed in potato sacks and blanched rather. Reading it now it’s obvious that Uncle is as ludicrous a figure as any of his foes. It’s also clear that the book is very, very funny: an absurd rush of nonsense punctuated with marvellous details (Uncle’s enemies pause after each fresh attack to scribble furiously on their “hating tablets”) and a lip-smacking relish for language (foes called Filljug Hateman and J. Hawkins Flabskin).

You can only easily get the first of six Uncle books (Uncle), and perhaps the second (Uncle Cleans Up). The others remain un-reissued, apparently because the publisher is worried about the classist overtones. You can see them for silly money on Amazon sometimes – if anyone does find any going cheap I do recommend that you snap them up. (And read them aloud to your partner!)


  1. 1
    home design on 4 Apr 2015 #

    Hello, It is a good post, thank you.

  2. 2
    Tommy Mack on 4 Apr 2015 #

    I loved the uncle books too. I guess it’s a kids’ vision of what you’d do with wealth: loads of eccentric paraphernalia and schemes. I remember reading something since (Guardian I think) that JP Martin had made uncle rather pompous and his enemies more fun so there wasn’t a clear cut choice between good and bad guys. I’m dubious about this though, I can’t imagine many eight year olds thinking I’m ”I’m siding with the alcoholics (Black Tom!) who live on a rubbish dump because they have the best lines”

    There was a band called Beaver Hateman a few years back iirc.

  3. 3
    lonepilgrim on 4 Apr 2015 #

    I adore the Uncle books and I’m fortunate to have a full set of the original hardback books thanks to my mum who spotted them in a 2nd hand bookshop in the late 1980s. I seem to recall the stories being read by Spike Milligan on Jackanory which would certainly be a good fit. It’s also worth noting the perfect illustrations by Quentin Blake.
    I’m not sure that I’d agree that Beaver Hateman and his Crew were full-blown alcoholics – they just lived in the moment, man
    You can now buy the collected stories in one volume thanks to a fan who ran a Kickstarter scheme a couple of years ago.

  4. 4
    Tommy Mack on 4 Apr 2015 #

    Hmm…”I’m not hooked, I’m just selling myself into slavery for a keg of Black Tom because I want to, I can stop any time I want”

    Admitting you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, Lonepilgrim ;-)

  5. 5
    lonepilgrim on 5 Apr 2015 #

    ‘My name is Jellytussle and I’m an alcoholic”

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