Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Day Job by Mark Wallington


Well, I said in my last post that I had wanted easy reading, and this book certainly met that requirement. The Day Job is the story of a year in the author's life before he and his partner managed to sell a script idea to Not the Nine O' Clock News. Since then he's written quite a few things I've never seen, though I note that he adapted one of my favourite travel memoirs for the BBC (Terry Darlington's Narrow Dog to Carcassonne - review coming up sometime soon, since I am about to start re-reading it). Unfortunately, I can't see any sign of the film having been finished - rats.

Anyway, back to The Day Job. Unable to sell his scripts, Mark Wallington decided that the best way to earn a modest living while keeping enough time available for writing would be to take up gardening. He didn't seem to know a great deal about it, but was fortunate in his first client, who needed help because her arthritis had become too sever for her to manage her large garden alone. Under her guidance, Wallington seems to have managed to wing it, doing mostly maintenance work during the summer, gaining clients by word of mouth and being lucky enough to find Mr Gold, owner of an extensive string of properties let to non-gardening tenants. Mild excitement is provided by his rivalry with Powergardeners and by the author's lack of any real knowledge about gardening - will he be unmasked as an imposter?

I was kept reading by the fact that there is nothing to object to - Wallington and his friends are an amiable bunch, and his adventures mildly amusing. The writing is chatty and eveything moves along at a fairly rollicking pace, summer reading if ever I saw it.

Mark Wallington has written a better known book, 500 Mile Walkies, about a journey along the Pennine Way with a dog. It has, I see, 2 sequels, so perhaps he has found his niche as a writer (and explains his interest in the Narrow Dog book). I think I might give the first one a try...

5 comments:

elizabethm said...

I may be the other person in the world who has read this book! I quite enjoyed it, in a gentle, mindless way. It is not the best example of that kind of autobiographical writing though for me. Have you read Michael Wright's "C'est la Folie"? Liked that very much.

Table Talk said...

Being allergic to gardening myself, I'm probably also allergic to books about gardening, but dogs are another matter. I shall look out for the '500 Mile Walkies' volume, although I hope he didn't try and do it all in one day. We used to have a dog who, if he thought we'd gone far enough, would hightail it home and leave me to go on by myself.

GeraniumCat said...

Elizabeth, I don't know that one, but it sounds from what you say as though I might like it.

TT, I'm about to embark on a different version of a long walk with a dog, though not a disreputable one, I think.

When The Bolter was a puppy she would suddenly decide that she had walked far enough and demand in no uncertain terms to be carried. Fortunately, she would usually decide within a very short time that she'd had enough rest and that exploring was much more fun, and demand, equally firmly, to be put down again. Now she can outrun us all, of course.

Julia Wherrell said...

Just feel the need to point out the 500 Mile Walkies is NOT about the Pennine Way... it's the South West Coast Path. Rather different! I enjoyed it very much, yes, quite simple and undemanding, but a whole lot better than many books out there. It was also influential in helping me make the decision to move to the Westcountry!

Geranium Cat said...

Julia, thank you for that correction! I went on myself to read 500 Mile Walkies, and enjoyed it, but hadn't remembered that I'd misinformed people. Wouldn't make me move back to the West Country myself, but I hope that it's worked for you!