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"Stewardess, can I please move seats?"
on 11 September 2009
Reading this book is very much like sitting on a long-haul flight next to an irritating old woman. It is a prime example of someone mistaking their opinions for wisdom. In that sense, I suppose, Irma Kurtz is the Jeremy Clarkson of her generation. Older does not necessarily mean wiser, as you would discover if you read this dreary book. Irma's life, though mildly interesting, has not been interesting enough to justify inflicting it's tale on the rest of us. I really didn't need to be told that the price of property in London has increased massively, nor that young people are not respectful of the elderly in the UK the way they are in other cultures. A couple of the contributions from other old folk are mildly amusing, most are self indulgent and uninteresting (nice trick though, when one's own life has been too dull to fill a book, get other dullards to chip in a few pages). Also, and I know this is not Irma's fault but that of her publisher, I feel (not for the first time, I admit) somewhat duped by the cover note comparing Kurtz to Bryson. She isn't in the same league as Bryson, in fact I don't think they are even playing the same sport!
Therefore, I am delighted that I borrowed this book from a friend. Not because I enjoyed reading it, but rather that had I shelled out my hard earned cash for it, I'd be even more disappointed.
If you want a book by an `oldster' to entertain and enlighten, then rush off now to buy `Resident Alien' by Quentin Crisp. Drenched in wit, and dropping pearls of wisdom faster than a pensioner can say "I remember when all this was fields", Quentin remains, for me, the ultimate oldster in harness.