Saturday, 11 October 2008
Alan Coren: The Gollies Karamazov
If you're of a certain age, you may remember the satirical magazine Punch (1841-2002), even if you only read it in the dentist's waiting room. For me, the highlight was always Alan Coren's column, which invariably had me in stitches.
To commemorate Alan Coren's death a year ago, his son and daughter have just published an anthology of his work, Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks. It was chosen as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week last week and if you're quick you can listen to the five broadcast extracts here, read by the brilliant John Sessions who does all the voices wonderfully well. So far, I've only managed to hear "Let Us Now Phone Famous Men", and yes, it had me in stitches all over again.
In The Times, there's an example of what Coren did best, in my opinion - the literary parody. This one's called "The Pooh Also Rises". There's also an article about Alan Coren by his son Giles here.
Both Giles and Victoria Coren have, happily, inherited their father's gift of humour. Victoria Coren, a journalist since the age of 14, is probably best known for the TV series Balderdash & Piffle which tested new words or definitions sent in by the public for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. OK, that doesn't sound funny but it often was. She also writes columns in The Guardian and The Observer. Besides being The Times's restaurant critic, Giles Coren was recently co-presenter (or victim) with comedian Sue Perkins of The Supersizers Go..., a series of programmes in which the pair lived for a week on the dishes of various periods and tested the effects of historical diets with hilarious and sometimes revolting results. He also wrote this (expletives undeleted) in which he vents his anger with some Times sub-editor who went too far with one of his articles.