Cynical look at mad, mad world

RODDY Doyle’s latest book, Two Pints, is only 89 pages long and appeared first as excerpts on Facebook.

It’s essentially a string of conversations between two middle-aged men who, over 15 months starting in June 2011, sit on bar stools chewing the fat over the news of the day and attempting to make sense of a mad world. Imagine Cheers with Norm and Cliff Claven, only replaced by cynical Irishmen who have no off button for swearing.

The rambling chats – in a James Joyce dashes instead of quotation marks style – take in the pope, the trickery of Martin McGuinness, the Olympic Games, EU bail-outs, the Costa Concordia tragedy and the Anders Behring Breivik massacre. But Doyle, the Chelsea fan, also muses on the miserable form of Fernando Torres.

One man is more confrontational about life, the other a mollifier and although the conversations occasionally become angry, harmony is always restored over a pint. The language (ah, realism) is coarse.

One man describes Basque separatists ETA as “those Spanish c*** who aren’t Spanish”, while Downton Abbey is “that s***e” and David Cameron “that baby-faced p***k”.

True to pub conversations, celebrity deaths feature heavily.

Poor ol’ Whitney Houston fares better than Robin Gibb. “Depressin’, isn’t it? The teeth might last longer than the songs,” says one of the un-named men.

The flights of fancy are enjoyable (“Would you let yourself be digitally enhanced?”) and sometimes Doyle, an accomplished author of adult and children’s literature, reduces political realities to sharp asides.

Talking of the fad of HD TV one of the drinkers says: “Does it make the f****** economy look better as well?”

It’s a slight book but a funny and provocative one too. – © The Daily Telegraph

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