Clever Girl

Growing Up in the 1950s

Brian Thompson

RRP: £7.99

13 September 2007

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843545453

RRP: £14.99

1 March 2007

Published by Atlantic Books

ISBN: 9781843545446

Brian Thompson groped his way to being a grown up. He excelled at school and met a girl – the girl of the title – who recognised his ambition to escape the miserable lives his parents had made for each other. After such a disastrous childhood, with her he set himself the task of discovering the healing waters of pure ordinariness.

Brian spent his National Service in the King’s African Rifles, fighting a colonial war in Kenya, with the dubious assistance of his platoon sergeant, one Idi Amin. Despite skirmishes with the Mau Mau, his most serious injury was playing football with a biscuit tin on Christmas Day, 1954. ‘Thank God we have a navy,’ his father sighed when he returned home.

He read English at Cambridge in the last days of old-style university education and at the very cusp of the new popular culture ushered in by rock and roll. Suitably confused, and with what his father liked to call the real world lapping at his feet, he did what was considered the right thing. He married the Clever Girl.