Moab is My Washpot – Stephen Fry

MIMWI don’t really see the point of an autobiography of someone’s first twenty years. If they left it a little longer, there might be more perspective. Furthermore, much of the material in this book appears elsewhere.

There’s that Fry smugness: noting that there are chavs in Uley; Never east asparagus after Ascot

There’s also stereotypical quips: ‘quicker than a priest can strip a choirboy’

He seems to disagree with his public school headmaster that every child has a talent – this is a belief that inspired and motivated me throughout over thirty years of teaching. Whatever school you go to, he reckons, will damage you. He liked practicing calligraphy, a hypnotist helped his stutter by getting him to sing, he hates P.E. – ‘Games are not ludic.’ He hides behind the 5s courts. As in many comprehensive schools, work is regarded as effeminate by most pupils. He prefers his later experience of the social mix in the technical college.

He believes that nature is horrible and that he was born with a triple handicap: asthma, Jewish and gay.

On religion, he hates attempts at ‘outreach’ and modern hymns (hence, maybe, the title from an obscure verse in the psalms which could have been better translated). He enjoyed the opportunity to study in prison but pokes fun at the visitor, the Bishop of Malmesbury for being out of touch. This is typical of his smug sense of superiority – I happen to know the bishop concerned and he is far from out of touch.

One good quip: ‘If you find gays disgusting, then you find sex disgusting.’ He is more concerned for beauty and love than for sex.

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