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       Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction, p.1

           Sue Townsend
 
Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction


  Adrian Mole

  and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

  Praise for the Adrian Mole series

  ‘Thank goodness for his steadfast loyalty to Pandora… Three cheers for his chaotic, non-achieving, dysfunctional family… We need him’ Evening Standard

  ‘One of the great comic creations… I can’t remember a more relentlessly funny book… Three cheers: Ashby de la Zouch is back on the literary map – and the Cappuccino Years is quite possibly a classic’ Daily Mirror

  ‘Mole has entered his kingdom… he presents a quizzical, innocent, frustrated perspective on the unlovely face of cool Britannia… Townsend manages it by dint of superb jokes and an underlying political and social seriousness as she skitters brilliantly over the surface of contemporary life’ Sunday Times

  ‘One of literature’s most endearing figures. He is an excellent guide for all of us as we wander through the cappuccino years’ Observer

  ‘Made me laugh very loudly on public transport, which is about the only real criterion for funny writing’ Independent on Sunday

  ‘The publishers could offer a money back guarantee if you don’t laugh and be sure they wouldn’t have to write a single cheque’ Jeremy Paxman, Sunday Herald

  ‘Adrian Mole has progressed from being a minority enthusiasm to something like a national figurehead… Sue Townsend has done more than write a comic series descended from Just William. She has held a mirror up to the nation and made us happy to laugh at what we see in it’ Sunday Telegraph

  ‘Enormously funny’ Sunday Telegraph

  ‘A very, very funny book’ Sunday Times

  ‘A classic. The Adrian Mole diaries are thoroughly subversive. [He is] a true hero for our time’ Richard Ingrams

  ‘Funny, moving and a poke in the eye for adult morality’ Sunday Express

  ‘Written with great verve, and showing an uncanny understanding of the young. Sue Townsend holds the balance between innocence and precocity and the result is both hilarious and salutary’ Daily Telegraph

  ‘Life’s no fun for an adolescent intellectual. For the reader it is a hoot’ New Statesman

  ‘The new book takes up the diary where the last left off, and is quite as classic’ Financial Times

  ‘The funniest, most bitter-sweet book you’re likely to read this year’ Daily Mirror

  ‘I not only wept, I howled and hooted and had to get up and walk around the room and wipe my eyes so that I could go on reading’ Tom Sharpe

  ‘Marvellous, touching and screamingly funny… set to become as much a cult book as The Catcher in the Rye’ Jilly Cooper

  ‘[Adrian Mole is] one of the great comic creations’ Daily Mirror

  ‘The author’s accuracy and comic timing left me wincing with pleasure’ New Statesman

  ‘Wonderfully funny and sharp as knives’ Sunday Times

  ‘Mole still makes me laugh and laugh’ Daily Express

  Praise for The Queen and I

  ‘Laugh-out-loud funny’ Sunday Telegraph

  ‘No other author could imagine this so graphically, demolish the institution so wittily and yet leave the family with its human dignity intact’ The Times

  ‘Absorbing, entertaining… the funniest thing in print since Adrian Mole’ Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph

  ‘Kept me rolling about until the last page’ Daily Mail

  Praise for Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman Aged 55 3/4

  ‘I want to be this funny. I want to be as funny, witty, sceptical and as unrepentantly cynical as Susan Lilian Townsend’ The Journal

  ‘Proof, once more, that Townsend is one of the funniest writers around’ The Times

  ‘Anyone who loved The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole will enjoy this collection of witty and sharply observed jottings from the inimitable Sue Townsend. Great stuff from a master of British satire, observation – and prose’ OK!

  ‘Sue Townsend is eloquent, wise and above all full of fun… whether she’s happy, nostalgic or just plain angry, her wit and honesty make her an unmissable read’ Sainsbury’s Magazine

  ‘It’s as if Townsend has caught our idiosyncrasies on candid camera and is showing a rerun of all the silly clips’ Time Out

  ‘What a fantastic advertisement for middle age – it can’t be bad if it’s this funny’ Heat

  ‘Townsend has such a witty way with words that it makes her consistently amusing… a welcome addition to any bookshelf’ Hello!

  ‘Townsend is every woman’s favourite Everywoman’ Good Housekeeping

  Praise for Number Ten

  ‘Hilarious. Sue Townsend’s laughter is infectious’ Sunday Telegraph

  ‘A wickedly entertaining and passionate swipe at New Labour’ The Times

  ‘There is a gem on nearly every page. Nothing escapes Townsend’s withering pen. Satirical, witty, observant… a clever book’ Observer

  ‘Poignant, hilarious, heart-rending, devastating’ New Statesman

  ‘A delight. Genuinely funny… compassion shines through the unashamed ironic social commentary’ Guardian

  ‘She has unrivalled claim to be this country’s foremost practising comic novelist’ Mail on Sunday

  ‘As ever with Townsend, her brilliance lies in her simplicity… It’s a great comic novel, this tale of two Britains, and should be on the bedside tables of Downing Street’ Independent

  ‘Townsend is one of our finest living comic writers… This is a wickedly entertaining and passionate swipe at New Labour’ The Times

  ‘No Townsend novel can fail to entertain… fans will find a smile on every page’ Sunday Times

  ‘Brilliant satire. Very contemporary, a bit controversial and loads of fun’ Daily Mirror

  ‘Few writers have the wit and powers of observation to write a humorous political satire but Townsend’s story of PM Edward Clare is spot on’ Sunday Mirror

  ‘Politicians beware’ Daily Mail

  ‘Convincing and amusing’ Daily Express

  ‘A brilliantly perceptive state-of-the-nation address’ Red ‘Hilarious’ Heat

  ‘A marvellously funny read’ Family Circle

  By the Same Author

  FICTION

  The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4

  The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole

  The True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole,

  Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian

  Townsend

  Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major

  Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years

  Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years

  Rebuilding Coventry

  The Queen and I

  Ghost Children

  Number Ten

  PLAYS

  Bazaar and Rummage

  Womberang

  Groping for Words

  The Great Celestial Cow

  Ten Tiny Fingers, Nine Tiny Toes

  The Queen and I

  NON-FICTION

  Mr Bevan’s Dream

  Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman Aged 55 3/4

  Adrian Mole

  and the Weapons of Mass Destruction

  Sue Townsend

  MICHAEL JOSEPH

  an imprint of

  PENGUIN BOOKS

  MICHAEL JOSEPH

  Published by the Penguin Group

  Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2

  Penguin Books India (P
) Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  www.penguin.com

  First published 2004

  1

  Copyright © Lily Broadway Productions Ltd, 2004

  Survivors © Siegfried Sassoon. By kind permission of George Sassoon.

  The moral right of the author has been asserted

  All rights reserved.

  Without limiting the rights under copyright

  reserved above, no part of this publication may be

  reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system,

  or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical,

  photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior

  written permission of both the copyright owner and

  the above publisher of this book

  EISBN 978–0–141–90078–0

  This book is dedicated to the memory of

  John James Alan Ball,

  Maureen Pamela Broadway

  and Giles Gordon.

  And to the Lovely Girls,

  Finley Townsend,

  Isabelle Carter,

  Jessica Stafford

  and Mala Townsend,

  with all my love.

  Acknowledgements

  I would like to thank my husband, Colin Broadway, for the practical and loving support he gave me throughout the writing of this book.

  2002

  Private and Confidential

  Wisteria Walk

  The Right Honourable

  Ashby de la Zouch

  Tony Blair, MP, QC

  Leicestershire

  10 Downing Street

  Whitehall

  September 29th 2002

  London SW1A

  Dear Mr Blair

  You may remember me – we met at a Norwegian Leather Industry reception at the House of Commons in 1999. Pandora Braithwaite, now the Junior Minister for Brownfield Regeneration, introduced us, and we had a brief conversation about the BBC during which I opined that the Corporation’s attitude towards provincial scriptwriters was disgraceful. Unfortunately, you were called away to attend to some urgent matter on the far side of the room.

  I am writing to thank you for warning me about the imminent threat to Cyprus posed by Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  I had booked a week’s holiday at the Athena Apartments, Paphos, Cyprus, for the first week of November for me and my eldest son at a total cost of £571 plus airport tax. My personal travel adviser, Johnny Bond, of Latesun Ltd, demanded a deposit of £57.10, which I paid to him on September 23rd. Imagine my alarm when I turned on the television the next day and heard you telling the House of Commons that Saddam Hussein could attack Cyprus with his Weapons of Mass Destruction within forty-five minutes!

  I immediately rang Johnny Bond and cancelled the holiday. (With only forty-five minutes’ warning, I could not risk being on the beach and out of earshot of a possible Foreign Office announcement.)

  My problem is this, Mr Blair. Latesun Ltd are refusing to refund my deposit unless I furnish them with proof:

  a) that Saddam Hussein has a stockpile of Weapons of Mass Destruction,

  b) that he can deploy them within forty-five minutes, and

  c) that they can reach Cyprus.

  Johnny Bond, who was, according to his colleagues, ‘away from his desk’ yesterday (I suspect that he was on the Stop the War march), has dared to question the truth of your statement to the House!

  Would it be possible to send a handwritten note confirming the threat to Cyprus so that I can pass it on to Johnny Bond and therefore retrieve my deposit? I can ill afford to lose £57.10.

  I remain, sir,

  Adrian Mole

  PS I wonder if you would ask your wife, Cherie, if she would agree to be the guest speaker at the Leicestershire and Rutland Creative Writing Group’s Literary Dinner on December 23rd this year. Will Self has turned us down – rather curtly, in fact. We don’t pay a fee or expenses but I think she would find us a lively and stimulating group.

  Anyway, Mr Blair, keep up the good work.

  Saturday October 5th 2002

  I viewed a loft apartment at the Old Battery Factory, Rat Wharf, today. Mark B’astard, the estate agent, told me that Canalside properties are being snapped up by the ‘Buy to Let’ crowd. It is in a great location, five minutes’ walk along the towpath from the bookshop where I work. The loft has one huge room and a bathroom with glass-brick walls.

  When Mark B’astard went for a pee I could see his blurry outline, so if I buy the apartment I will ask my mother to run me up some curtains.

  I stepped out on to the tensile-steel and mesh balcony and looked at the view. The canal lay below me, sparkling in the autumn sunshine. A flock of swans glided past, a grey bird flew by and a narrowboat came into sight under a bridge. When it passed my balcony, a bearded man with a grey straggly ponytail waved and said, ‘Lovely afternoon.’ I could see his wife in the bottom of the boat, washing up. She saw me but did not wave.

  Mark B’astard had tactfully withdrawn while I soaked up the atmosphere of the place. But now he rejoined me and pointed out several original features: the genuine acid burns in the floorboards, the hooks where the blackout curtains were hung in the war.

  I asked him what the scaffold-clad building next door was being turned into.

  ‘A hotel, I think,’ he said.

  He went on to tell me that Eric Shift, the scrap-metal multi-millionaire who would own the freehold of my property, had bought up the whole of Rat Wharf and was hoping to transform it into Leicester’s equivalent of the Left Bank in Paris.

  I confessed to Mark that I had always wanted to dabble in watercolours.

  He nodded and said, ‘That’s nice,’ but I got the impression that he didn’t know what I was talking about.

  Mark looked around longingly at the stark white wall space and said, ‘This is the sort of place I’d like to live in, but I’ve got three kids under five and the wife wants a garden.’

  I commiserated with him and told him that, until very recently, I was the full-time father of two boys, but that the British Army was looking after Glenn, the seventeen-year-old, and the nine-year-old, William, had gone to live with his mother in Nigeria.

  B’astard looked at me enviously and said, ‘You’re young to have your kids off your hands.’

  I told him I was thirty-four and a half and that it was time I put myself first for a change.

  After B’astard pointed out the integral granite cheese-board in the kitchen worktop, I agreed to buy the apartment.

  Before we left I went out on the balcony for one last look. The sun was setting behind the distant multi-storey car park. A fox walked along the opposite towpath with a Tesco’s carrier bag in its mouth. A brown creature (a water vole, I think) slipped into the canal and swam out of sight. The swans floated majestically by. The biggest swan looked me straight in the eye, as if to say, ‘Welcome to your new home, Adrian.’

  10 p.m.

  I went into the kitchen, turned the volume down on the radio and informed my parents that I would be moving out of their spare room and into a loft apartment in the Old Battery Factory on Rat Wharf in Leicester at the earliest opportunity.

  My mother could not hide her delight at this news.

  My father sneered, ‘The Old Battery Factory? Your grandad worked there once, but he had to leave after a rat bite turned septic. We thought he’d have to have his leg off.’

  My mother said, ‘Rat Wharf? Isn’t that where the rough sleepers’ hostel is opening next year?’

  I said, ‘You’ve been misinformed. The whole area is being transformed into Leicester’s cultural quarter.’


  When I asked my mother if she would run me up some curtains for the glass-brick lavatory, she said sarcastically, ‘Sorry, but I think you’re confusing me with somebody who keeps a needle and thread in the house.’

  At 7 o’clock my father turned the sound up on the radio and we listened to the news. Britain’s military chiefs were demanding to know what their role would be if Britain goes to war with Iraq. Share prices had fallen again.

  My father banged his head on the table and said, ‘I’ll kill that bastard financial adviser who talked me into putting my pension into Equitable Life.’

  When the Archers theme tune played, my parents reached for their cigarettes, lit up and sat listening to the agricultural soap opera with their mouths slightly open. They are doing things together in yet another attempt to save their marriage.

  My mother and father are elderly baby-boomers of fifty-nine and sixty-two respectively. I keep waiting for them to give in to old age and take up the uniform that other old people adopt. I would like to see them wearing beige car coats, polyester slacks and, in my mother’s case, a grey cauliflower perm, but neither of them will give in. They are still squeezing themselves into stonewashed jeans and black leather fitted jackets.

  My father thinks that by growing his grey hair long he will be mistaken for somebody who used to be in the music business. The poor fool is deceiving himself. He will always look like a retired storage-heater salesman.

  He is forced to wear a baseball cap at all times now because he has lost most of the hair on top of his head, causing a youthful folly to be revealed: on his stag night, after he had drunk ten pints of Everards Bitter, he agreed to have his head shaved and ‘I am a nutter’ tattooed in green ink on his scalp.

  Fortunately the stag night was held a week before the wedding, but it explains why, in my parents’ only wedding photograph, my father looks like the convict Abel Magwitch from Great Expectations.

  My father has had his other tattoos removed on the NHS, but they will not fund the green ink one. For that he would have to go to Harley Street for laser treatment and pay over £1,000. My mother has been urging him to take out a bank loan, but my father says that it’s easier and cheaper to wear a cap. My mother says that she can’t bear reading ‘I am a nutter’ when my father has his back turned to her in bed, which is most of the time apparently.

 
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