Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Brothers: mine, Roger Goldman's and Jack Yeats'.

I just finished reading Barbara Trapido's 'Brother of the More Famous Jack' and seldom has anything given me so much pleasure. It is the most heavenly book, with exactly the atmosphere of how one would imagine Cath Kidston's house to be, maybe with the addition of some heavyweight literary and philosophical conversation, a handful of freshly-picked daffodils and a few cracked plates.

There was a passage which particularly delighted me, with its combination of idealistic youthfulness, pure English eccentricity and scholarly puritanism. I will copy it out in full: Jane is the mother and Jonathon the 17 year old son who has just been given a detention:

'You are cheeky, Jont,' Jane says without concern. 'I consider it part of your charm, but you cannot expect others to do so.'
'The bloody fool asks me to paraphrase "heaven's cherubin, horsed upon the sightless couriers of the air",' he says, thumping about. 'What's the fucking good of paraphrasing it? It sounds better the way it is.'
'What did you say to him, Jont?' Jane says insistently.
'I said if he didn't understand it he shouldn't be doing it with us.'
'And?' she says archly.
'He said if I was so clever would I like to take the class. So I took the class. A bloody sight better at it I was, too, but he made me stop after about ten minutes because it showed him up.'

It reminded me completely of my own brother, the lovely G, also 17, who is the sweetest and gentlest person I know but who also has absoutely zero respect for authority, and is too funny and perceptive to ever be quiet for long. His school reports always say things like 'G is a very bright and able pupil, but would do better to spend less of his time in class distracting his peers'. Or, 'G shows great promise but his contributions to discussions would be more beneficial to him and his classmates if they were less tangential.' The best thing he has ever done, in my eyes, goes like this: he was in an English class and put his hand in the air to answer a question. His teacher, mistakenly, thought that he was making a rude gesture and snapped 'Right, G, I've had enough of this! Detention!' to which G replied, solemnly but vehemently, 'Don't be ridiculous.'

Never have I been so proud.