Wednesday, 21 November 2012

'Madam Idiotina of the Highest Order'

Read Vivienne Plumb's The Diary as a Positive in Female Adult Behaviour (1999, Headworx), a small mysterious book.

As well as being mysterious, it is very well written: on p. 10, the story teller - diary writer - sees

"...the Cakeman's bubblegum pink van. It was the pink of sticking plasters or like those baby girl clothes they sell in those baby clothing shops that close down and get turned into burger bars...".

Then she writes:

" The Cakeman was parked opposite the 24-Hour Shop and he was delivering chocolate lamingtons, frosted finger buns, brandy snaps, sticky jam donuts, and thick wedges of oozing custard squares.

The sliding rear doors of the van were open and inside I could see the Cakeman himself, a small man in bermuda shorts with his arms full of apricot pies. I asked him if I could buy a donut and he agreed and invited me into the van.

In the soft cakey dark the Cakeman's long socked leg brushed against mine as he handed me the donut. The jam gleamed evilly from the centre, an evil ruby pirate eye winking and glinting, aye, aye, eat me why don't you, aye, why don't you eat three of me in one go?"

I have noticed that Plumb generally avoids capital letters - she writes 'friday'  - which makes Cakeman's capital C salient. He is delivering unhealthy sickly sweet food from the van's dark hole. Even though he is only 'a small man in bermuda shorts', one feels that he is a being with some awful power, there is a sense of danger when he 'invites her into the van'. Innocence perverted by male power. There is a soft darkness and a long leg brushing against her (Yuk!). The donut gleams evilly - there! now it is said outright, he is evil. He tries to draw her into into an 'in-depth philosophical debate'.

My other favourite bit is at the end of the book, when she reports behaving particularly stupidly under the influence of  sexual desire:
"I am a fool.
I know I am a fool.
I am Madam Idiotina of the Highest Order."

That delighted me, it is the kind of things teenagers say to each other and to themselves. A funny dialogue develops between the different parts of herself - MADAM IDIOTINA and the OTHER PERSONA, GENERALLY IGNORED. I laughed out loud.

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