Adrian Mole is balding, he's bitter and he's back, this time aged 30¼. Working at the Hoi Polloy restaurant, Soho, where a typical menu includes:
Heinz Tomato Soup, he is spotted by a cable TV producer and ends up starring in a celebrity chef show celebrating offal. Though he may be older he is certainly no wiser, still passing his time by dreaming of Pandora (now a shining star in Tony Blair's New Government) after his marriage to a Nigerian beauty ends in tatters. But underneath the layers of experience and sophistication, fans of the Mole family will find the same dysfunctional mess that made Adrian's Secret Diary an instant bestseller--his young son is being brought up by his mother in Ashby-de-la- Zouch, his 16-year-old sister leaves home to live with her multiply pierced boyfriend and his father is bed- bound with manic depression. Adrian still makes constant lists of juvenile neuroses and concentrates on his penis activity to an unhealthy extent (it is when it reaches 0/10 he realises something has to be done).
(with white bread floaters)
Grey Lamb Chops
Boiled Cabbage avec Dan Quayle Potatoes
Dark Brown onion gravy
Spotted Dick à la Clinton
Bird's Eye Custard
Cheddar Cheese, Cream Crackers
After Eight Mint
Townsend's trademark acerbic wit is still much in evidence;
Zippo kissed my mother's hand and complimented her on the shirt she was wearing. 'Is it Vivienne Westwood?' he murmered. it is only the frames of reference that have changed. Occasionally verging on the corny ("I arrived at the Brent Cross shopping centre car-park, to find that my car had been towed away five days ago and was in a police compound somewhere in Purley. A £25 cab ride took me to the Purley gates &") true Mole fanatics will forgive Townsend her occasional excesses for the numerous laugh-out-loud moments that punctuate Adrian's existence as he blunders on towards middle age.
'No', she muttered back. 'It's BhS'.
'You clever thing', he crooned.
Accessible, amusing and appealing, The Cappuccino Years see an Adrian who has survived the Growing Pains; thought better of True Confessions; is out of the Wilderness Years and is facing the only really important question that remains: Is Viagra cheating? --Lucie Naylor