The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch

july(June 2014 meetup)

The book:
The P45 Diaries by Ben Hatch
This book is a semi-autobiographical account of the protagonist’s coming of age, following his journey as he gets sacked from a number of jobs from working in a kebab house where he didn’t realise he had to take the skewer out of the chicken before putting it in a pitta, and various others, including macdonalds, and a stint with a builder. As funny as it is to read about his blaze of glory exits from the workplace, there is the undercurrent of him dealing with the bereavement following the death of his mother, and the consequently tumultuous relationship with his father who is the Head of BBC 2 and desperately trying to get his son to hold down a job.  Another main theme is his rejection of the corporate world and his inability to embrace maturity, so when the ending sees him being accepted onto a journalism course the reader is relieved to witness this first step towards some stability in his life and his entrance into adulthood.

We loved….
The humour and change in style from some of the ‘heavier’ books we have been reading, and the way that the book managed to tackle some really heavy issues such as bereavement, the deterioration of someone before death, while making us laugh out loud. There was a refreshing mix of humour, honesty, and seriousness. We also loved the al fresco setting, and michelle’s epic diary style question tree (see photo!), complete with Welsh cakes! A hard act to follow for next month but I’m sure she will.

We didn’t love….
that Michelle got stuck in traffic and was late and that we were actually going to have to think of something to say unprompted! Also, a few of us thought that perhaps the humour was a little forced in places, especially the beginning, until it became a bit meatier.

We disagreed….
about very much this time. On the whole we all enjoyed it, and everyone who finished it said that they did not expect the ending.

We digressed….
and talked about the difference between bronchitis and pleurisy. We obviously missed the last couple of months’ medicinal themes and wanted to give our brains a workout. Thanks to Robin, our resident microbiologist, we learnt a lot about lungs. We also talked about the possibility of branching out and going to the cinema to watch the film adaptations of books we have read. This led to a discussion about the release of 50 Shades of Grey as a film, and there seems to be more demand for Mansel to reinstate his weekly readings from the book.



I love my book club, I really do. Where else could I sit outside a pub on a weeknight and legitimately get drunk just that little bit too early while talking about how much I love David Walliams’s children’s books without people thinking I was weird. I’m aware people still retain the right to think that, but when surrounded by a fair number of other people doing the same they are less likely to sit there pointing and screwing up their faces, and hopefully more likely to wonder what’s wrong with them for not doing it.

The important stuff first: June’s meetup kicked off with a complimentary bottle of wine from the White Hart Llangybi as way of an apology for a slight venue/date mix up the previous month. It was unnecessarily generous but very gratefully received, not least by Anne, who bounced through the door with her hair swinging from side to side as she excitedly told us that she had been told a the bar that there was already wine outside for her.

Priorities sorted out, we moved onto the book which was a winner on all accounts. It was chosen by our youngest, and most sensible member, L who is 9 and has very good taste. At the moment her taste is restricted to the book choices but it wont be long before she will be making just a great choices from the wine list.

A few people thought that Walliams was a little ageist at the beginning of the book, but this was mainly by those members who probably didn’t want the rest of us to think that they really did cabbage farts. Careful you don’t protest too much though, yeah? Oh, and one member is actually growing cabbage seeds in their allotment. All these possible ageist issues were tackled throughout the book when granny turns gangsta and wows her grandson and the readers with her alter ego. As not all of the members had read the book (yes, it really is that relaxed!), the book was summarised beautifully by the girl who chose it and it was at this point that I suddenly had a vivid memory of what it felt like to really love a book at that age.

It was revealed by Anne, that this was the first book that we have read with the book club that made her cry. If you know Anne then you will know that it is not the most shocking news, but it is a milestone nonetheless.  (Anne is someone who cried profusely when watching a boy see his dad fall off the travelator on Gladiators)

Anne also admitted that when she read the part about the granny doing naked yoga she thought ‘I don’t look anything like that’, but then saw the illustration and then thought ‘Ah, I do!’. I personally think it is a huge lie and hope that my chocking on my wine from laughter didn’t imply otherwise at the time.

Favourite character:  a few of us really like the newsagent as we have all met someone similar.

Favourite illustration: most of us said the queen flashing her Union Jack knickers.

Likes/Dislikes: There were too many lists and barcharts for some people (one of them being Anne who incidentally is the inventor of the human barchart), and there were not enough lists for the book chooser. Another favourite part was the cabbage recipe which the book chooser read out to us and made us all feel queasy.

We then discussed what makes children’s literature so different from adult literature and how do some people manage to get it so right?

Overall it was a very well liked book and we would all happily read another David Walliams book.

Thanks to everyone for coming.

We meet the last Weds of the month, in venues in and around Usk. Check with me or the fb page for event details.

Upcoming meetups….

  • July 31st                The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood & And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (with BBC Radio Wales attending to hear our discussion)
  • August  28th      The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
  • Sept 25th               The Warden by Anthony Trollope & The Spooks Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
  • October 30th       The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz
  • November 27th  TBC
  • December             Date and Book TBC
  • January 2014   Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier