Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Lunchtime read: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This reminds me of the Adrian Mole diaries by Sue Townsend, not just because of the diary format but also because of the humour. The reader can see some of the twists coming long before they do and revels in the main characters stumbling into them. But this is also a political book. The spin doctoring, willingness to bend the civil service at will and the ambition all point back to the recent Blair years.

The story evolves around Dr Alfred Jones who works for Fisheries department and is asked – well pressured with the threat of the sack – to help with a project to create a salmon river in the Yemen. The project is on the face of it an impossibility because of the heat, lack of oxygen in the water and the impact on natural migration patterns.

But the Alistair Campbell figure believes it will be good for the government and its relations with the Middle East so Dr Jones is told in no uncertain terms to get on and make the project happen.

Having started he rather enjoys his entry into a life of attractive lawyers and Arab sheiks. At home his high-powered wife Mary is moving permanently to Geneva and her childless marriage with Alfred is falling apart – not that she seems to mind. That leaves Alfred stuck with a growing attraction for Harriet the lawyer for the sheik, who is engaged to a captain serving in Iraq - a bit more scope for politics there.

More tomorrow…

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