08 June 2009

Lord Lucan: My Story (William Coles)

This review is going to need a bit of a preface for those of you (Australians, Americans, under-40's etc.) who have no idea who Lord Lucan was/is:

He meant to kill his wife but whacked the nanny instead. He fled (probably the country) and is still one of Britain's most wanted men. This all took place one fateful night in 1974 and since that night no one really knows what happened to good ol' Lord Lucan, although he has been 'spotted' in many different countries over the years.

This book confused me at first, as it is presented as a diary of Lucan's that has only recently turned up. William Coles is the author of these diaries but acts as editor, the better, he informed me, to let the British public suspend disbelief and accept the novel as a reasonable course of events to have befallen Lucan.

One mistake Coles makes is in his introduction, where he states that Lucan was "by no means a writer." This of course meant that I entered the story with the immediate assumption that the writing was going to be terrible, somewhat clouding any objective stance I might have originally taken. Coles also states in the introduction that 'Lucan' "...frequently switches tenses, flip-flopping from present to past..." Considering Coles is WRITING FOR LUCAN I would have thought he could have emitted this part of the introduction and just... written the diaries in the correct tense.

As previously mentioned in this blog, I find the world of Eton, the English class system and the general 'what-ho' aspect of England fascinating yet simultaneously frightfully abhorrent. Thus, I find it hard to sympathise with Lucan when he begins to complain about how the whole world has turned against him... BECAUSE HE MURDERED SOMEONE. There he is, swigging Bolinger on his sinking private boat, bemoaning the sorry state of affairs he finds himself in. Here I think Coles does well in creating (or envisioning as it were) a man who could, quite conceivably, murder the nanny.

HOWEVER, truly the most awful thing about the story (which, in all likelihood is akin to what actually happened) is the way Lucan's old Eton pals all rally around him and help him to hide from the police and then smuggle him out of the country. They go on and on about loyalty and the binding ties of friendship, all perfectly summed up in this one quote when a friend is talking about the possibility of turning Lucan in: "It goes against every last instinct of human loyalties and to hell with the law or the common norms of civic behaviour."

COMMON NORMS OF CIVIC BEHAVIOUR, I am assuming, would be to, politely yet firmly, tell a friend he is not welcome to hide in your basement because he killed someone.

Yes indeed, to hell with these common norms.

Whilst I find the way the story has been presented needlessly confusing, I did quite enjoy this in a way. I think. Enjoyed is probably not the right word. ENGROSSED perhaps, marvelling at the pig-headed nature of the upper classes. And, it must be added... I do feel slightly anxious now, working in London as a nanny. I SERIOUSLY hope I'm not exterminated in some future domestic brawl. That would be truly horrific.

Although, considering the current apathy I am experiencing as the mindless nature of my job begins to grate in it's seventh month... there is the possibility that a death threat might liven things up a little bit.

Rating: 5/10.

If you want to find out more about Lord Lucan, go here. Some overly hilarious person with WAY too much time on their hands has compiled an entire website about him, complete with a live forum to post sightings of Lucan. Exciting.
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