Today I’m interviewing Lord David Prosser, author of My Barsetshire Diary: The Daily Events of the Gentry Recorded for Posterity, The Queen’s Envoy, and many other brilliantly funny stories.
Here is what I have to say about his first book:
David Prosser’s wit is like a good piece of cheddar: sharp and full of flavour. But what really makes “My Barsetshire Diary” stand out is the author’s penchant for infusing each and every sentence with humour.
I have not seen such incredibly well sustained humour since Wodehouse, and it is not for lack of trying.
If you ever have a chance to meet David Prosser in person, please do us all a favour and kidnap him, then force him to write some more.
Sorin: What has humour ever done for us? Besides the aqueduct, the sanitation and roads…
David: Humour is the best diet in the world. Just think how much exercise you get with belly laughs. If only we could harness all that energy.
Sorin: If only we could… Speaking of which, if you had three wishes, what would you do with them?
David: I’d arrange for a little mass hypnosis, so that at a given trigger word, everyone would buy one of my books, and at a second trigger word they’d want the set and beg for more. Then of course I’d have to opt for world peace since no-one at war has time to read. Lastly I’d appear on ‘Oprah’ and make sure people understood that Indies are good writers too, and make a few book suggestions. Stephen King, John Grisham, Terry Pratchett et al are probably rich enough already.
Sorin: Deservedly so, I might add. As we are talking about famous writers, people have likened you to P.G. Wodehouse, more than once. How do you think he copes with the pressure?
David: You mean apart from being dead? I didn’t think we were getting a necromantic interview. Hmm, the pressure of having me compared to him, I’d hope he was glad I wasn’t around when he was, but be happy the tradition of tale telling carries on.
Sorin: Necromancy, you say… All right, since you brought that up, what would you like to have inscribed on your tombstone?
David: “He Was Funny and He Was Nice” would be ideal, though I suppose having my name there might help in case there are pilgrimages to my gravesite.
Sorin: Duly noted. Why would a perfectly sane person read your books? What about the not so perfectly sane?
David: The perfectly sane would read them because they can read situations they’re probably been in or at least seen many times during their lives, except for the second book of course where only super-secret James Bond types would have been in those particular situations. The im-perfectly sane would read them because they want to become perfect of course.
Sorin: Makes imperfect sense! Here’s a tough question for you: Elves or Orcs?
David: It has to be Elves, of course, since Orcs have no magic. An Elf could magically give me a shave after a rough night; the Orc is more likely to stop me from needing a shave on a permanent basis. And, be fair, they have faces only a mother could love, you’d never get to speak to a pretty woman again with an Orc at your side.
Sorin: If the Barsetshire Diaries were made into a movie, who would you like to play you?
David: I’m thinking the ideal person would be me, but lacking an equity card I guess that’s out. Hugh Laurie would be very good though maybe Ioan Gruffudd but he’d have to get rid of the stretch arms first and his outfit for the Royal Navy.
Sorin: My mind was set on Stephen Fry. It could be his next project, after the TV series Kingdom. One last question: what is your favourite word, in any language?
David: Hiraeth. Since you didn’t ask what it means I’ll assume everyone already knows and keep schtumm.
Sorin: Diolch i chi, Ewythr!
Here is an excerpt from My Barsetshire Diary: The Daily Events of the Gentry Recorded for Posterity, which I particularly enjoy, probably because it has a parrot in it:
I was greeted by pandemonium in the shape of Lady Julia in her riding gear descending upon me at speed.
“He’s gone”, she cried, “you must have left the door open!”.
At which point I had visions of someone nipping in and kidnapping her doddery old papa while I was out. Instead I just responded “Slow down, dearheart, who’s gone?”.
“The bird has”, she said, and I swear I heard her add “Silly old fool”. Now Joey is my territory. The little rogue has been with us for years and a more entertaining budgie you won’t find. Nor a richer one probably as he usually steals and hides my loose change and anything shiny he can hold in his beak. Even today no one has been able to find his hoard. Probably intends to retire to the sun one day. Anyway, I digress.
Panic stricken to lose my only ally, I dashed into the house so fast the rubber tips on my crutches started to smoke.
I went into the drawing room where Joey usually holds court and started calling him. At first there was no answer and I had visions of spending my afternoon shouting up at all the trees in the village. Then I heard a strange grating sound that seemed to echo round the room. Unable to recognise either the sound or the source, I started looking round the room until eventually I narrowed the sound down to an old copper swan-necked jug on the piano. There the little blighter was, right at the bottom, crooning to himself and enjoying the echo. Gently I laid the jug on its side so he could get out. Out he waddled drawing blood from my hand affectionately as he went by.
All was calm again.