Monday, 13 August 2012

Book Review - Mammoth Boy by John Hart

Of all the Barnet Councillors, perhaps the most colourful is John Hart. John doesn't mince his words and one suspects that he started his career in Barnet when the minutues of meetings were transcribed on parchments, using quill pens and only the finest octopus ink. Unlike many of his colleagues, John is highly educated and used to be a lecturer. He also has a keen interest in literature and has recently written a book. I bumped into John a couple of weeks ago in Waitrose car park. I was off to buy some fish fingers for supper and pulled up next to him, just as he was loading a couple of cases of the finest Ruby Port, a side of venison and a dozen of the finest quails eggs into his 1957 Armstrong Siddley (actually I've rather egged this up, but if the meeting were a Hollywood film, that is most certainly how it would happen).  Anyway, as ever we had a brief chat. I asked John how his book sales were progressing and he said "I'm down to the last few". He then gave me a copy and I promised to review it. I cannot think of another Barnet Conservative Councillor who's prose I'd bother to read. For a bit of fun I thought I'd construct a list of possible books they could have written :-

"Brian Salinger - My Part in his downfall" by Brian Coleman
"Sheep farming in Barnet" by Daniel Thomas
"101 Uses for a dead Twat" by Robert Ramsbottom
"50 Shades of Grey" by Helena Hart
"Smoking is Good for You" by Thomas Davey

Interestingly, I googled "Book about a friendly Parking Warden" for a book for Dean Cohen and not a single title came up. Anyway, as far as I know, John Hart is alone in being a published author amongst the Barnet Councillors. I took the book away to France with me, to read on the plane. Knowing John, I expected it to be a decent read. I rather suspected that as the subject was a boy growing up in Stone Age Spain, there would be much ravishing of fulsome blondes from the tribe next door along with the decimation of the liberal namby pambies who ran said tribe. I expected a bit of neolithic capitalism, with red blooded heros getting the girl and the loot (or at least a few Mammoth steaks) !

In actual fact, the book is a very gripping read. Sadly, there is no ravishing of fair maidens. Mammoth Boy Urrell is struggling to survive in a very harsh world of nomadic tribes. He is taken under the wing of the mysterious Agaratz, who has various maladies and many mystic powers, which would in this day and age entitle him to a free disabled parking ticket in Barnet (oops sorry just read that they are going up to £10). Agaratz teaches Urrell that you must respect nature to survive. When you take a birds egg to survive, only take one, so that the bird will have a chick to hatch and carry on the breed. When berries are plentiful, don't kill animals for food. When food is scarce, share it with the animals. Agaratz also teaches Mammoth boy the beauty of art and music and introduces him to the joys of psychedelic drugs, in the form of mysterious magic mushrooms., used by the shamen to see ancient times (I wonder if John's own experiences were drawn from ;^) ).

As Urrell grows stronger, he is taught how to fight and defend himself, but always with honour and dignity. Eventually Agaratz and Urrell set off on a mission (with Urrell's wolf and an old, starving and dying lion, who they have befriended during the harsh winter months). They visit magical places and see strange things (Blind fish, Geyzers). They arrive at the gathering of the clans. Urrell has many tasks to prove himself a man. His prize is a maiden fair (although one who he respects rather than ravishes).

I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in stories of ancient times. It is well written and researched and vivid in it's storytelling. It would make a great Disneyesque story (although they'd probably ruin it). You can get the book from Amazon here - - and you can even download it onto your kindle.

Fair play to John for proving not every Barnet Tory is a complete philistine (in fact he's probably the only one who actually knows what the classical definition of a  philistine really is).  I was left wondering if  deep in Johns true blue soul, there is a liberal lefty screaming to get out. I read the book effortlessly and like all entertaining books, I was left wondering what happened next and wishing it was a little longer. Recommended.

1 comment:

Mr Mustard said...

For next time you visit Roger you can buy quail eggs in WR. In the Chipping Barnet branch they are in the same section as smoked salmon and make a nice little starter on a bed of leaves, with those lovely brown shrimps and some mayo. Ooh, must go as it is nearly dinner time.