Thursday, 17 January 2013

Read in 2013 - 3: Educating Jack

The last one (so far) in Jack Sheffield's series about his life as the headteacher of a village school in North Yorkshire, book # 6 is "Educating Jack".


The academic year 1982-1983 provides the framework for all the various strands of stories; there is, once again, a lot of humour in the book and a lot to trigger the memory:
"Fame" was in the cinemas and caused a general trend for legwarmers, the pound note was replaced by the pound coin, the first mobile phones were introduced, compact discs started to appear on the scene, and a jar of Nescafé was 96p.
Of course, at the beginning of the book, it is revealed who was victim of the accident that so dramatically ended the previous book. And at the end of this one, a life-changing event takes place in Jack's life.

I enjoyed this one for its familiarity - the same characters plus some new ones, in the same surroundings; people get older, take on new jobs, move house, fall in love and have anniversaries, children grow, make new friends and learn a lot, both in the classroom and out.
This time, there were a few more of the small errors/inaccuracies that should have been eliminated by good editing. Did I just not notice them in the previous books, or has the editing become sloppier for want of faster publishing?

Here are some examples:
Friday, 17 September 1982 starts with Vera (the school secretary) taking out her baking dish and recipe book in her kitchen to make an apple cake. She writes a list of ingredients needed from the village store... and leaves. The baking is never done, and next time we see Vera, she's already at the school office.
Vera is also involved in the next error: Chapter Eight starts with her and her brother setting off on Friday, 17 December "...in their little white Austin A40 for the last day of term...". And how does Chapter Nine start? "It was Tuesday, 21 December, the last day of the autumn term...". Now, which one was the last day of term? Friday or Tuesday?

Then there's the issue of a few less-than-well formulated sentences. Once again, I am probably just being overly picky, but I think Jack Sheffield can do better than this:
"... Petula Dudley-Palmer, complete with a green leotard and matching headband, had just completed her morning workout...", and later on in the book, a herd of Friesian cattle are "contentedly chewing grass to their hearts' content".

The humour in the book made up for those, though, and although some of the jokes are probably considered rather "old", they still made me laugh:
Henry Fodder, recently retired Canon Emeritus from York Minster [...] had come to live in the village. [...] he had not been blessed with a sense of humour, which would have been useful, particularly when you were addressed as Canon Fodder.

Deke Ramsbottom [...] had just completed the repair of the weather cock [...]. Emily Cade was passing by, pushing her elderly mother, Ada, in her wheelchair. In a loud voice Ada shouted, "Isn't it nice to see the cock upright again, vicar?" and Emily, red-faced, hurried on.

In the window of her hair salon, Diane Wigglesworth was putting up a photograph of Joan Collins next to one of Kevin Keegan, as both were sporting the same hairstyle.
So, all things considered, I am looking forward to reading the first three books in the series once my mother-in-law swaps with me. And as far as I know, book # 7 will be out some time this year.

18 comments:

  1. Hello Meike:
    We can understand the appeal of these books for you for, if we understand correctly, you used to live in the area in which the books are set.

    Have you considered a new, or even secondary career, as a proof reader?! We think that you would, in all seriousness, make an excellent one.

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    Replies
    1. Hello Jane and Lance, it's my late husband's family who live in that area, and I have been a regular visitor for many years now.

      From time to time, I do some quality check work on documents for friends and customers, but nothing I can live off. In the 1990s, I worked at a publishing and printing company and did a lot of proofreading there; it has never left me and I simply can not NOT see a typo or other error, which sometimes makes reading less entertaining than it should be!

      Delete
  2. "Cannon Fodder"! That's going to have me laughing all day.

    Jane and Lance are right, why aren't you an editor?

    ReplyDelete
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    1. He he glad you liked the joke, too, and I am not the only one to find it funny :-)

      I'd like to be an editor, but I wouldn't know how to go about getting such a job. Besides, I have only just started a new job last month!

      Delete
  3. I agree with H...you would be a great proofreader, and editor, and anything related to books. I also love books. When I worked I used to spend money only on books!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. See my reply to Jane and Lance, Francesca... :-)

      Much as I love books and reading, I must confess I spend more money on clothes than on books. But most of my money goes straight into the mortgage for my flat.

      Delete
  4. IDEA! Couldn't you provide publicity via your website for free books? With a bit of free proof reading thrown in ??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm... but then how would I benefit from that?

      Delete
  5. Hey there, stopping by from the Hop! Check out my site www.highheeledmama.com and follow if you like!

    Happy Saturday!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Noel, thank you for stopping by! I am going to have a look at your blog in a bit.
      Have a good week!

      Delete
  6. Very cool blog. Interesting posts. ;)
    Nice atmosphere guests with you here on the blog. ;]
    Yours. Have a nice day. !

    Follow me on facebook fanpage and blog
    I'm very concerned about this, please. :)
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-another-light/413836138693856

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Patrycja, thank you for taking the time to have a look at my blog!
      I'm afraid I am not on facebook and therefore won't be able to follow you there.

      Delete
  7. I think the publishing industry is in such disarray these days that proofreading has gone completely by the board. Submissions are supposed to be in digital form (disc or email) not in paper printouts, which makes proofreading more problematic. It also puts the onus on the writer, not the publisher, if there are any mistakes. And no matter how careful a writer you are, there are bound to be some glitches. Which is why the position of proofreader was invented in the first place.

    But with the demise of the printed word being glumly predicted daily, I suppose the wonder is that we get any books in actual book form at all any more, with or without errors!

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    1. You are right about that!
      Yes, proofreading is so important; everybody makes typos and other errors, and it is nearly impossible to find each and everyone of one's own mistakes. Maybe a lot of people don't even realise the mistakes, or if they do, they aren't bothered at all, and I am too picky and need to change my attitude.

      Delete
  8. I've got all this to come Meike.

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    1. And I'll soon send my half to my mother-in-law so that she can send me the first three books.
      For now, though, I really need something non-fiction.

      Delete
  9. this is a book ho goes to my wishliust.. the history is envolvent .. and you review make me curious abou the end..

    grat review..

    Klau tks
    http://musicwithbook.blogspot.com.br/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello klau Tks, thank you for stopping at my blog!
      I've had a look at your blog, but I'm afraid I do not understand Portuguese well enough to read it.

      Delete