Saturday, January 06, 2007

A Wayne in a Manger = A Waste of my Money

I picked up A Wayne in a Manger beside a cash till in Borders. A perfect stocking filler—lots of stories about funny nativity plays.

The back story is that Gervase Phinn was an school’s inspector in the Yorkshire Dales. He wrote James Herriot-style books about the funny things he witnessed and participated in during those years. The Christmas stories, and anything remotely to do with nativity plays, have been extracted and reformatted into this tiny book.

Small pages, huge type and ridiculously large line spacing. It’s surely a product of Penguin’s marketing department to cash in on the small book you can give away at Christmas market.

I fell for it. Twenty chapters. Some just contain a poem. About two or three genuinely made me laugh. (And I’d love to see Chapter 12 enacted by a group of children.) But the rest of the stories were weak and forced.

Still from the nativity scene in the film Love Actually

On the upside, it gives be a chance to use this still from the nativity play at the end of Love Actually—a quite brilliant film, unlike this book. Look carefully for the octopus! And I would be interested in reading (a second hand copy of) one of Phinn’s proper books ... they couldn’t be as bad as this slimmed down collation.

I close with one of the best paragraphs, describing the entry of the Three Kings in one particular nativity.

‘I am the King of the North,’ said one little boy, kneeling before the manger and laying down a brightly wrapped box. ‘I bring you gold.’

‘I am the King of the South,’ said the second, kneeling before the manger and laying down a large coloured jar. ‘I bring you myrrh.’

‘I am the King of the East,’ said the third and smallest child, kneeling before the manger and laying down a silver bowl. ‘And Frank sent this.’

6 comments:

John Self said...

Er... I don't get it!

Still, the trick here was to stock it by the till. You'd have been forewarned of its crapness if they'd stored it in the natural home of all unamusing books: the Humour section.

Alan in Belfast said...

The joke was in the last line ...

> And Frank sent this.

I notice that Amazon UK haven't published my ranty review online!

John Self said...

Yes I guessed that but still didn't get it! Then in a semi-sleeping state last night or this morning I realised it was a pun on Frankincense. D'oh!

Norwin! said...

I read the hotel's copy of his book "up and down in the dales" on the last day of my holiday this year. It was perfect holiday reading - easy going, funny, and charming.
I really enjoyed it.

taleteller said...

I did read this book. To be honest, I found it lot better than other Phinn books. Sometimes all you want is unintelligent and silly humour; and Wayne in a Manger solves that purpose.

Regards
Lisa

l0ckw0i said...

I thought that this little book was a tonic.I also read extracts from it to my 6 and 8yr old Grandchildren who laughed and laughed.I must admit I still laugh out loud when I read some of the stories especially "poor little bugger" bit from a Dales boy who was made aware of the poor conditions that Jesus endured on being born in a stable!