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       True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, p.1

           Sue Townsend
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True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole


  True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend

  Sue Townsend, with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (1982) and The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (1984), was Britain’s bestselling author of the 1980s. Her hugely successful novels are Rebuilding Coventry (1988), True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend (1989), Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major (1991), The Queen and I (1992), Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years (1993), Ghost Children (1997), Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (1999), The Public Confessions of a Middle-aged Woman (Aged 55¾) (2001) and Number Ten (2002). Most of her books are published by Penguin. She is also well known as a playwright. She lives in Leicester.

  True Confessions

  of Adrian Albert Mole, Margaret Hilda Roberts and Susan Lilian Townsend

  Sue Townsend



  Published by the Penguin Group

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

  Penguin Putnam 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 Books (NZ) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads, Albany, Auckland, 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

  First published in Great Britain by Methuen 1989

  Published in Mandarin Paperbacks 1990

  Reprinted in Arrow Books 1998

  Published in Penguin Books 2003

  Copyright © Sue Townsend, 1989

  All rights reserved

  The moral right of the author has been asserted

  Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser

  ISBN: 978-0-14-196293-1

  To Lin Hardcastle

  childhood friend


  Author’s Preface

  Adrian Albert Mole

  Adrian Mole’s Christmas

  The Mole/Mancini Letters

  A Letter to the BBC

  Adrian Mole on ‘Pirate Radio Four’

  Art, Culture and Politics

  A Mole in Moscow

  Mole on Lifestyle

  Mole’s Prizewinning Essay

  The Sarah Ferguson Affair

  The Mole/Kent Letters

  Adrian Mole Leaves Home

  Mole at the Department of the Environment

  Susan Lilian Townsend


  Writing for Television


  Why I Like England

  Margaret Hilda Roberts

  The Secret Diary of Margaret Hilda Roberts Aged 14¼

  Correspondence of a Queen in Waiting

  Author’s Preface

  Dearest reader,

  Since the scandal broke about the so-called ‘five dwarves in a bed’ affair (though I still maintain there were only four) I have seldom visited civilization; my meagre supplies are delivered to me by donkey carrier every second Tuesday. I collect peat from the moors for my fire and I draw water from a well conveniently situated only three miles from my cottage. Thus my needs are satisfied.

  What care I for the trappings of success? What joy did I ever get from wearing Joy perfume? None – only more mosquito bites when I went abroad.

  The occasional visitor brings me news of London’s vibrant literary scene. Sometimes they bring commissions; it is by this method that I finance my chosen frugal lifestyle. This book is a collection of some of the articles and essays I have written over the past few years.

  There is also some previously unpublished material, The Prison Letters between A. Mole and Barry Kent, for example. And some poetry written by A. Mole (included here only because he threatened to starve himself to death unless I agreed).

  Mole’s blackmailing tactics have succeeded to the extent that he has the lion’s share of this book, though I must stress that this is not a ‘Mole Book’; Margaret Hilda Roberts and I also contribute.

  Old Hag Cottage


  Black Moor

  Nr Buxton

  April 1989

  Notes on the Contributors

  Adrian Albert Mole. Adrian Albert Mole was the editor and main contributor to the Neil Armstrong Comprehensive School magazine, The Voice of Youth.

  Since then his poems have appeared in the Leicester Mercury and the Skegness Herald. A volume of his poems entitled The Restless Tadpole was printed by Vanity Publishers Ltd, in 1987.

  He is currently writing a novel about the East Midlands called Lo! the Flat Hills of My Homeland.

  Adrian Mole lives in Leicester with his dog. In 1986 he won record damages against the failed novelist Sue Townsend after she published his diaries claiming that they were her own works of fiction.

  Margaret Hilda Roberts. These diary entries were found between the pages of The Be-Ro Cook Book for Girls at a car boot sale in Grantham on a Bank Holiday Monday in 1988.

  Nothing (unfortunately) is known about Margaret Hilda Roberts or what became of her. The diary is believed to have been written in the nineteen thirties.

  Susan Lilian Townsend. Enjoyed notoriety at one time but has sunk into obscurity since her involvement in the ‘five dwarves in a bed’ scandal in 1989 for which she received a suspended prison sentence of two years. The judge’s remarks were widely reported in the popular press: ‘To think that a woman of your age could stoop so low.’

  Since the scandal she has lived in isolation in a bleak moorland cottage near to Buxton. She alleges that her only companions are a family of curlews and a large fungus growing in the corner of her living room. She is forty-three.

  Adrian Albert Mole

  Adrian Mole’s Christmas

  December 1984

  Monday December 24th

  Christmas Eve

  Something dead strange has happened to Christmas. It’s just not the same as it used to be when I was a kid. In fact I’ve never really got over the trauma of finding out that my parents had been lying to me annually about the existence of Santa Claus.

  To me then, at the age of eleven, Santa Claus was a bit like God, all-seeing, all-knowing, but without the lousy things that God allows to happen: earthquakes, famines, motorway crashes. I would lie in bed under the blankets (how crude the word blankets sounds today when we are all conversant with the Tog rating of continental quilts), my heart pounding and palms sweaty in anticipation of the virgin Beano album. I would imagine big jolly Santa looking from his celestial sledge over our cul-de-sac and saying to his elves. ‘Give Adrian Mole something decent this year. He is a good lad. He never forgets to put the lavatory seat down.’ Ah … the folly of the child!

  Alas, now at the age of maturity (sixteen years, eight months and twenty-two days, five hours and six minutes) … I know that my parents walk around the town centre wild-eyed with consumer panic chanting desperately, ‘What shall we get for Adrian?’ Is it any wonder that Christmas Eve has lost its awe?

  2.15am Just got back from the Midnight Service. As usual it dragged on far too long. My mother started getting fidgety after the first hour of the Co-op young wives’ carols. She kept whispering, ‘I shall have to go home soon or that bloody turkey will never be thawed out for the morning.’

  Once again the Nativity Playlet was ruined by having a live donkey in the church. It never behaves itself, and always causes a major disturbance, so why does the vicar inflict it on us? OK so his brother-in-law runs a donkey sanctuary, but so what?

  To be fair, the effect of the Midnight Service was dead moving. Even to me who is a committed nihilistic existentialist.

  Tuesday December 25th

  Christmas Day

  Not a bad collection of presents considering my Dad’s redundant. I got the grey zip-up cardigan I asked for. My mother said, ‘If you want to look like a sixteen-year-old Frank Bough then go ahead and wear the thing!’

  The Oxford Dictionary will come in useful for increasing my word power. But the best present of all was the electric shaver. I have already had three shaves. My chin is as smooth as a billiard ball. Somebody should get one for Leon Brittan. It is not good for Britain’s image for a cabinet minister to go around looking like a gangster who has been in the cells of a New York Police Station all night.

  The lousy Sugdens, my mother’s inbred Norfolk relations, turned up at 11.30am. So I got my parents out of bed and then retired to my room to read my Beano annual. Perhaps I am too worldly and literate nowadays, but I was quite disappointed at its childish level of humour.

  I emerged from my room in time for Christmas dinner and was forced to engage the Sugdens in conversation. They told me in minute, mind-boggling detail about the life-cycle of King Edward potatoes, from tuber to chip pan. They were not a bit interested in my conversation about the Norwegian leather industry. In fact they looked bored. Just my luck to have philistines for relations. Dinner was late as usual. My mother has never learnt the secret of co-ordinating the ingredients of a meal. Her gravy is always made before the roast potatoes have turned brown. I went into the kitchen to give her some advice, but she shouted, ‘Bugger off out’ through the steam. When it came the meal was quite nice but there was no witty repartee over the table; not a single hilarious anecdote was told. In fact I wish I’d had my Xmas dinner with Ned Sherrin. His relations are dead lucky to have him. I bet their sides ache from laughing.

  The Sugdens don’t approve of drink, so every time my parents even looked at a bottle of spirits they tightened their lips and sipped their tea. (And yes it is possible to do both, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.) In the evening we all had a desultory game of cards. Grandad Sugden won four thousand pounds off my father. There was a lot of joking about my father giving Grandad Sugden an IOU but father said to me in the kitchen, ‘No way am I putting my name to paper, that mean old git would have me in court as fast as you could say King Edward!’

  The Sugdens went to bed early on our rusty camp beds. They are leaving for Norfolk at dawn because they are worried about potato poachers. I now know why my mother turned out to be wilful and prone to alcohol abuse. It is a reaction against her lousy moronic upbringing in the middle of the potato fields of Norfolk.

  Wednesday December 26th

  Boxing Day

  I was woken at dawn by the sound of Grandad Sugden’s rusty Ford Escort refusing to start. I know I should have gone down into the street and helped to push it but Grandma Sugden seemed to be doing all right on her own. It must be all those years of flinging sacks of potatoes about. My parents were wisely pretending to be asleep, but I know they were awake because I could hear coarse laughter coming from their bedroom, and when the Sugdens’ engine came alive and the Escort finally turned the corner of our cul-de-sac I distinctly heard the sound of a champagne cork popping and the chink of glasses. Not to mention the loud ‘Cheers’.

  Went back to sleep but the dog licked me awake at 9.30, so I took it for a walk past Pandora’s house. Her dad’s Volvo wasn’t in the drive so they must still be staying with their rich relations. On the way I passed Barry Kent, who was kicking a football up against the wall of the old people’s home. He seemed full of seasonal goodwill for once and I stopped to talk with him. He asked what I’d had for Christmas; I told him and I asked him what he’d had. He looked embarrassed and said, ‘I ain’t ’ad much this year ’cos our dad’s lost his job.’ I asked him what happened. He said, ‘I dunno. Our dad says Mrs Thatcher took it off him.’ I said, ‘What, personally?’ Barry shrugged and said, ‘Well that’s what our dad reckons.’

  Barry asked me back to his house for a cup of tea so I went to show that I bore him no grudge from the days when he used to demand money with menaces from me. The outside of the Kents’ council house looked very grim (Barry told me that the council have been promising to mend the fences, doors and windows for years) but the inside looked magical. Paper chains were hung everywhere, almost completely hiding the cracks in the walls and ceilings. Mr Kent had been out in the community and found a large branch, painted it with white gloss paint and stuck it into the empty paint tin. This branch effectively took the place of a Christmas tree in my opinion, but Mrs Kent said, sadly, ‘But it’s not the same really, not if the only reason you’ve got it is because you can’t afford to have a real, plastic one.’ I was going to say that their improvised tree was modernistic and Hi Tech but I kept my mouth shut.

  I asked the Kent children what they’d had for Christmas and they said, ‘Shoes.’ So I had to pretend to admire them. I had no choice because they kept sticking them under my nose. Mrs Kent laughed and said, ‘And Mr Kent and me gave each other a packet of fags!’ As you know, dear diary, I disapprove of smoking but I could understand their need to have a bit of pleasure at Christmas so I didn’t give them my anti-smoking lecture.

  I didn’t like to ask any more questions and politely declined the mince pies they offered … from where I was sitting I could see into their empty pantry.

  Walking back home I wondered how my parents were able to buy decent Christmas presents for me. After all my father and Mr Kent were both innocent victims of the robot culture where machines are preferred to people.

  As I came through our back door I found out. My father was saying, ‘But how the hell am I going to pay the next Access bill, Pauline?’ My mother said, ‘We’ll have to sell something George, whatever happens we’ve got to hang on to at least one credit card because it’s impossible to live on the dole and social security!’

  So my family’s Christmas prosperity is a thin veneer. We’ve had it on credit.

  In the afternoon we went round to Grandma’s for Boxing Day tea. As she slurped out the trifle she complained bitterly about her Christmas Day spent at the Evergreen Club. She said, ‘I knew I shouldn’t have gone; that filthy communist Bert Baxter got disgustingly drunk on a box of liqueur chocolates and sang crude words at the Carol Service!’

  My father said, ‘You should have come to us, mum, I did ask you!’

  Grandma said, ‘You only asked me once and anyway the Sugdens were there.’ This last remark offended my mother; she is always criticizing her family but she hates anybody else to do the same. The tea ended in disaster when I broke a willow pattern plate that Grandma has had for years. I know Grandma loves me but I have to record that on this occasion she looked at me with murder in her eyes. She said, ‘Nobody will ever know what that plate meant to me!’ I offered to pick the pieces up but she pushed me away with the end of the hand brush. I went into the bathroom to cool down. After twenty minutes my mother banged on the door and said, ‘C’mon, Adrian, we’re going home. Grandma’s just told your dad that it’s his own fault he’s been made redundant.’ As I passed through the living room the silence between my father and my grandma was as solid as a double-glazed window.

  As we passed Pandora’s house in the car, I saw that the fairy lights on the fir tree in her garden were switched on, so I asked my parents to drop me off. Pandora was ecstatic to see me at first. She raved
about the present I bought her (a solid gold bracelet from Tesco’s, £2.49) but after a while she cooled a bit and started going on about the Christmas house-party she’d been to. She made a lot of references to a boy called Crispin Wartog-Lowndes. Apparently he is an expert rower and he rowed Pandora across a lake on Christmas Day. Whilst doing so he quoted from the works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. According to Pandora there was a mist on the lake. I got into a silent jealous rage and imagined pushing Crispin Wartog-Lowndes’s aristocratic face under the lake until he’d forgotten Pandora, Christmas and Shelley. I got into bed at 1am, worn out with all the emotion. In fact, as I lay in the dark, tears came to my eyes; especially when I remembered the Kents’ empty pantry.

  The Mole/Mancini Letters

  January 1st 1985


  Hamish Mancini

  196 West Houston Street

  New York, NY

  Hi there Aidy!

  How are you kid? … How’s the zits … your face still look like the surface of the moon? Hey don’t worry, I gotta cure. You rub the corpse of a dead frog into your face at night. Do you have frogs in England? … Your mum gotta blender? … OK, here’s what you do:

  You find a dead frog.

  You put it in the blender. (Gory, but you don’t have to look.)

  You depress the button for 30 seconds. (Neither do you have to listen.)

  You pour the resulting gunk into a jar.

  You wash the blender, huh?

  Last thing at night (clean your teeth first) you apply the gunk to your face. It works! I now gotta complexion like a baby’s ass. Hey! It was great reading your diary, even the odd unflattering remark about me. Still, old buddy, I forgive you on account of how you were of unsound mind at the time you wrote the stuff. An’ I got questions …

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